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On April 1, 2024, California’s Assembly Bill No.1228 (“AB 1228”) took effect, making the state’s fast food workers the highest paid in the United States. However, uncertainty regarding precisely who is covered under the new law has left some employers reeling, as the stakes for complying with California’s Labor Code remain as high as ever.

Continue Reading California Wage Hike Law for Fast Food Workers Generates Uncertainty for Some Employers
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In the realm of commercial leasing, the fine print of contracts can often hold significant consequences for both landlords and tenants. One area where contention often arises is with exculpatory clauses, which routinely aim to absolve landlords from responsibility for injuries or damages suffered by tenants or third parties, even if those harms result from the landlord’s negligence or failure to maintain premises adequately. However, the efficacy of exculpatory clauses becomes blurred when confronted with hazards such as asbestos, a notorious carcinogen found in many older commercial buildings, including some retail properties.

Continue Reading California Ruling Shows Limits of Exculpatory Lease Clauses
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Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is often touted as the latest transformative technology set to revolutionize the commercial real estate industry. This may seem like grandstanding, but the hype is real. AI is already being implemented by law firms and their clients to streamline business processes. AI, however, is ultimately a tool and whether tools make our lives easier or harder often depends on if we use them safely. This blog post examines some of the ways in which AI is used in commercial real estate and potential pitfalls with broad implementation.

Continue Reading AI in Real Estate: Prospects and Pitfalls
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In a speech before the Yale Law School February 2024, SEC Chair Gary Gensler had AI top of mind. Interrupted only by a colorful collection of movie references, Chair Gensler focused almost the entirety of his remarks on AI and the SEC’s corresponding regulatory duties. Chair Gensler addressed the risks associated with AI while cautioning reporting companies to avoid “AI washing” and making boilerplate AI disclosures that are not particularized to the company. The speech nicely underscores the SEC’s two-fold, and at times juxtaposed, concerns about the important emerging technology.

Continue Reading Recent Gensler Speech Highlights SEC’s Two-Fold AI Disclosure Concerns
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On March 6, 2024, by a party-line vote of 3-2, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted final rules (entitled “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors”) requiring most public companies to disclose climate-related information in registration statements and annual reports filed with the SEC. The SEC first proposed climate disclosure rules in March 2022, and the proposal has been a source of much debate and controversy, generating over 24,000 comment letters, more than any regulation in the history of the SEC.

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Earlier this year, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed S.B. S1048A into law (which we reported about here) requiring sellers that impose credit card surcharges to post the total price, inclusive of the surcharge, on the item. The law is aimed at preventing consumers from being misled when making a purchase using their credit card. Governor Hochul recently announced guidance to help businesses better implement the law’s requirements. The guidelines, which include an informational video as well as a one page brochure, provide three affirmative ways companies may comply with the guidelines. Businesses can: (1) clearly display both the credit card and cash price; (2) list the higher credit card price and a “discount” for the cash purchases; or (3) use the same price for both cash and credit card purchases. However, business cannot: (1) put a sign on the register notifying consumers of a credit card fee; (2) include a separate line item on the receipt for something like a “convenience fee” or “administrative fee;” (3) advertise all prices include a cash discount that does not apply to credit card purchases; or (4) include a credit card warning surcharge on the item price tag. Given the hefty civil penalties for each violation (up to $500), businesses should consider these updated guidelines closely to ensure compliance.

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Virginia is currently one of just two states, along with Mississippi, without state-court class actions. But in the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 259, which would create a class action mechanism in Virginia state courts. Under Virginia law, the governor can sign the bill, veto it, do nothing (which permits it to become law)—or he can propose amendments to the bill, which would then be sent back to the General Assembly at the “veto session” in April. The governor could veto the bill—or, in the alternative, he could propose an amendment to protect Virginia businesses from the threat of outrageous statutory damages claims under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Continue Reading The Legislation Enacting Virginia’s New Class Action Statute Should Be Amended to Protect Virginia Businesses From In Terrorem Statutory Damages
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In our client alert, A Brief Explanation of the USPTO’s Useful New AI-Assisted Invention Guidance, we discuss the Inventorship Guidance for AI-assisted Inventions, 89 Fed. Reg. 10043 (Feb. 13, 2024), recently released by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The guidance provides inventors and patent applicants with a framework regarding AI-assisted inventions and how inventorship of such will be judged at the USPTO. Why should a retailer care?

Continue Reading New USPTO AI-Assisted Invention Guidance Will Affect Retailers and Consumer Goods Companies
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In recent years, consumers filed a spate of class actions claiming that retailers misrepresented the retail price on discounted goods to mislead consumers into thinking they were obtaining a bargain. Many of those cases settled or were dismissed for lack of injury because plaintiffs failed to allege that the purchased item was deficient in an objectively identifiable way.

Continue Reading Does Being “Left to Guess” Establish Standing for Injunctive Relief After TransUnion?
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Companies face significant exposure from privacy related claims. An increasing number of these claims result from efforts at the state level to regulate use of personal data. One key focus is Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), but as lawmakers in other states continue to introduce legislation aimed at regulating the use of biometric data, more court decisions may muddy the waters regarding what conduct may be covered under a general liability policy.

Continue Reading Illinois Court Says 7th Circuit Fumbled Illinois Law in BIPA Decision