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5 Under-the-Radar Legal Developments Entrepreneurs Need to Know The rewriting of the federal tax code was from the only change relevant to entrepreneurs.

By Jaia Thomas

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Entrepreneurship, more than anything else, is about taking responsibility for our choices and the consequences of those choices. While that singleminded focus on personal responsiblity is empowering, the larger truth is that our actions take place in a society ruled by a network of laws and regulations. From local permits to the patents that protect new ideas and inventions, rules and regulations fundamentally shape how business is conducted.

As 2018 unfolds, here are five changes to law and rules entrepreneurs need to keep in mind.

Related: What You Need to Know About New Local and State Laws for 2017

Higher patent fees

For those entrepreneurs thinking of registering an invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), patent fees will increase on January 16, 2018. The USPTO speculates that during FY 2017, patent operations cost $2.986 billion. As patent operations continue to rise, the USPTO will be imposing higher fees to help offset these costs. Slight increases (which are defined as increases of less than 10 percent or less than $20) will effect search, filing and examination fees. There will also be slight increases to issue fees and excess claim fees. There will be significant fee increases to patent trial fees. For more information: www.uspto.gov

Taxes are going up in Delaware.

More than 1.2 million legal entities are incorporated in Delaware. For entrepreneurs with businesses incorporated in Delaware or for entrepreneurs contemplating incorporating a business in Delaware, it is important to note that the tax rates will be increasing in 2018. Several tax changes will take effect January 1, 2018. The penalty for filing an annual franchise tax report late will increase from $125 to $250. The tax rate computed for corporations with more than $1 million in assumed capital will also increase.

More privacy for job applicants.

For business owners who reside in Vermont, effective January 1, 2018, employers may not compel employees or job applicants to allow employers to access an employee's or applicant's personal social media accounts, including videos, photographs, blogs, podcasts, instant or text messages, emails, online services or accounts, or internet website profiles or locations. Specifically, employers may not require, request or coerce an employee or applicant to do the following: (1) divulge or present any content from the employee's or applicant's social media account, (2) add anyone, including the employer, to the employee's or applicant's list of contacts associated with a social media account.

Salary history and arrest history.

In California, prospective employers will no longer be able to ask applicants about their salary history in 2018. Under Assembly Bill 168, the salary history of job applicants can only be disclosed voluntarily. Also, under Assembly Bill 1008, California will now prohibit employers with five or more employees from asking about criminal history information on job applications and from inquiring about or considering criminal history at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made.

Minimum wage increases.

If you are an employer planning on hiring employees in 2018, keep in mind that the minimum wage will be increasing in many cities. Effective January 1, 2018, minimum wage in New York City rises for employers with 10 or fewer employees rises from $10.50 to $12/hour, and for employers with 11 or more employees, minimum wage increases from $11 to $13/hour. In California, minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $11/hour for employees of businesses with 26 or more employees, and $10 to $10.50/hour for employees of businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Jaia Thomas

Attorney and Entrepreneur

Jaia Thomas is a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment attorney. She also assists business owners with intellectual property matters, such as copyright and trademark registrations.

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