Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus on: (1) changes to New York State wage and overtime laws; (2) an update in Trademark Law; and (3) intellectual property insurance.
While the implementation of the changes to the FLSA were stayed by a federal court late last year, Employer's in New York should be advised that the minimum wage and overtime exemption thresholds have increased under New York State law. Across New York, all employees are entitled to be paid at least $9.70 per hour and must be paid overtime if they earn less than $727.50 per week. However, in certain cities and counties, these figures are higher. In New York City, employers with 11 or more employees must pay their workers at least $11.00 per hour and grant overtime to anyone making less than $825 per week. For smaller NYC employers, these figures amount to $10.50 hourly and $787.50 weekly; in Long Island and Westchester they are $10.00 and $750.00, respectively. Employers and employees alike should be further aware that all of these thresholds are scheduled to increase again at the end of 2017.
The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) will begin randomly auditing approximately ten percent of all "declarations of use" filed in connection with trademarks that are registered in one or more class as of March 21, 2017. A declaration of use is a document filed by the owner of a trademark stating that the that the mark is still being used in commerce as registered. The declaration of use is required to be filed between the 5th and 6th year after a mark is registered. While owners are generally only required to submit one specimen for each class under which their marks are registered, owners whose declarations are subjected to an audit by the USPTO will be required to provide additional evidence. Owners who supply insufficient evidence will find their marks subject to cancellation. As such, all trademark owners are encouraged to maintain records, including photographs, demonstrating a consistent use of their marks for all their registered purposes in order to best secure their rights in the event of an audit.
Although intellectual property (trademarks, patents, and copyrights) may represent a significant source of value for a company, business owners often fail to property protect themselves in the event they are faced with an infringement lawsuit. Defensive measures, such as obtaining insurance to cover the cost of any such lawsuit, should be seen as a necessary precaution for any business that places significant value on its intellectual property. Generally, policies that are typically carried by businesses (Comprehensive General Liability or Commercial General Liability Insurance) may offer coverage for claims related to infringement, however, businesses are advised to understand whether their existing policies do in fact offer coverage related to IP infringement and are advised to seek explicit endorsements in the absence of clear language.
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