Apr 13, 2021

United States Patent and Trademark Office Expands Patents for Humanity Program to COVID-19 Inventions

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced that the Patents for Humanity awards program is now open for COVID-19 related patents and patent applications, providing award winners with accelerated procedures at the USPTO. With the vast amount of COVID-19 related patent applications filed over the past year, the program provides another avenue outside of petitions to accelerate examination of pending patent applications related to this subject matter. The Patents for Humanity (PH) program, not to be confused with the popular Cards against Humanity game, is an awards competition “recognizing innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global… Read more


Apr 8, 2021

Department of Labor Issues Model COBRA Premium Subsidy Notices

Yesterday, the Department of Labor released Frequently Asked Questions and model notices and election forms in connection with the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) COBRA premium subsidy. The model notices and election forms may be used by employers to notify Assistance Eligible Individuals of the availability of the COBRA premium subsidy. Background. The ARPA provides Assistance Eligible Individuals with a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for medical, dental, and vision coverage. An Assistance Eligible Individual is a COBRA qualified beneficiary who, during the period from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021 (i) is eligible for COBRA by reason of a… Read more


Apr 8, 2021

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Apr 7, 2021

Virginia Passes Overtime Wage Act

VA Overtime Act

On March 20, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Overtime Wage Act into law.  Beginning on July 1, 2021, the Virginia Overtime Wage Act (“VOWA”) will go into effect resulting in new overtime rules far broader than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The VOWA contains provisions significantly different than the FLSA that require immediate attention of Virginian employers. Most notably, the VOWA expands FLSA provisions by changing the regular rate calculations for workers, providing larger damages for misclassified workers, extending the statute of limitations for overtime claims, and expanding liquidated damages for overtime violations. The VOWA defines… Read more


Apr 7, 2021

Effective Immediately – Group Health Plans Must Be Ready to Demonstrate Compliance with Mental Health Parity Rules

On April 2, 2021, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) confirmed that group health plan sponsors must be prepared now to provide specific proof, upon request by the Departments, that the plan complies with the federal mental health parity rules. New Documentation and Reporting Requirements. The new guidance expands on the recent amendments to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (the “Mental Health Parity Act” or “Act”) made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. These amendments require group health plans to perform and document a comparative… Read more


Apr 6, 2021

Supreme Court Decides Long Awaited Google vs. Oracle Copyright Case

Hailed by Google and others as the “copyright case of the decade,” the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in Google LLC.v Oracle America, Inc. The Court sided with Google in deciding that it is “fair use” for Google to verbatim take 11,000 lines of Java code and incorporate that into their application programming interface (“API”) software. Notably, the Supreme Court made no ruling on the fundamental issue of whether APIs are eligible for copyright protection. Google argued that they were not. Instead, the Court assumed for the sake of considering fair use that APIs were protectable, and… Read more


Mar 30, 2021

California Expands COVID-19 Supplement Paid Sick Leave

CA Sick Leave

On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 requiring California employers with more than 25 employees to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to covered employees.  Employers have until March 29, 2021 to ensure compliance with the new law, which is retroactive to January 1, 2021.  California’s previous supplemental paid leave expired on December 31, 2020.  Much like the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), Senate Bill 95 expands on the previous supplemental paid leave and provides additional circumstances in which the employer must provide leave, and will remain in effect until September 30, 2021. Senate… Read more


Mar 29, 2021

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Expands Voluntary Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave

FFCRA

With the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), employers with fewer than 500 employees may continue to collect tax credits for voluntarily providing expanded leave originally provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  As we discussed in our previous alert, the FFCRA’s mandatory leave provisions, requiring covered employers to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML), expired on December 31, 2020. Congress later provided employers with an opportunity to continue to provide the FFCRA leave – on a voluntary basis – in exchange for tax credits, up through… Read more


Mar 12, 2021

Prompt Action by Employers Required for COBRA Changes in the American Rescue Plan Act

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the “American Rescue Plan Act” (“ARPA”) (HR 1319). While ARPA addresses many different areas, employers will need to act promptly with regard to benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”). COBRA Subsidy “Assistance eligible individuals” will be eligible to receive a 100 percent subsidy for their COBRA continuation coverage premiums from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 (i.e., they will not have to contribute to the cost of COBRA premiums). Employers will receive a credit against payroll taxes for the cost of the subsidy. The subsidy will cease… Read more


Mar 9, 2021

A Year Later: The COVID-19 Judicial Emergency in Georgia

Jury Trials to Resume Again! The world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now. All sectors of life, from businesses to schools, to courts, to places of worship, have socially-distanced and shifted to technology to carry out their work. A year ago, on March 14, 2020, Chief Justice Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia declared a Statewide Judicial Emergency in the State of Georgia due to the “transmission of Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the State and the potential infection of those who work in or are required to appear in our courts.”[i] The first order suspended all jury… Read more