Friday, March 15, 2013

Beth Slagle Quoted in Pop City Article

Beth A. Slagle, Esquire
While many women in business today are successful, they often struggle when it comes to growing their businesses to greater profitability.

A new program at
Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) hopes to change that. CWE MyBoard is helping women entrepreneurs to not only succeed in the startup of their business but to sustain and grow it, which is often the hardest part.
Please click here to read Pop City's full article.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Immigration Expansion Should Cover the Gamut of Income Levels

Joel Pfeffer, Esquire
One detail on which all sides of the immigration debate seem to agree is the need to increase immigration quotas for the highly skilled, highly trained workers, so that more of these workers can enter the country. But a new immigration policy that does not adjust the quotas for workers along the entire wage and skill spectrum is doomed to fail.
As the Obama administration and members of Congress submit their proposals for immigration reform, one only hopes that in the course of the discussion, Congress, the president and the stakeholder community do not lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is reducing illegal entry and overstays of legal entrants. What to do about the estimated millions of illegal aliens already in the United States has, for practical purposes, stood in the way of badly needed immigration reform.
The various proposals discourage illegal immigration in several ways. For example, the president wants to establish mandatory verification by all employers to confirm employment authorization for new employees through the government database, E-Verify. Currently only certain employers are required to use E-Verify.
All the proposals call for increased border security and dedication of additional funds to secure the border. Finally, most proposals streamline the deportation of overstays who are threats to public safety. Congress will debate the effectiveness of these policies, and will enact some form of punishment and deterrent to illegal entry and overstay.
But if the goal is to prevent another illegal surge, our immigration policy must include a combination of reward and punishment. Comprehensive immigration reform will only be effective if there are legal opportunities for unskilled, semiskilled and highly skilled workers. Otherwise, the United States will continue to be a magnet for illegal entry and overstay.
The president has proposed increasing the quotas to eliminate the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration. The quotas were last overhauled in 1986. Under current quotas, most sponsored employees -- even professionals -- wait six years from the time an employer can establish a shortage of U.S. workers for the position until the employee is allowed to fill the position. Six years is simply too long for both the employer and the employee.
Streamlining the process for highly skilled immigrants, those with so-called "world class" skills, is an easy political sell. But reform needs to be across the board. The United States must offer realistic immigration opportunities at all levels, if another illegal immigration crisis is to be avoided.
Once we offer immigrants reasonable opportunities to immigrate to the United States, we can realistically expect that punishments imposed on those who fail to obey our laws will serve as effective deterrents.
Without a viable legal option, too many workers at all skill levels will be too tempted by the higher wages and greater opportunity in the United States. Without increased quotas at all levels, criminalizing unlawful status or taking other enforcement measures will simply create a revolving door of illegal aliens coming to the United States faster than we can deport those we find.
Whatever legislation is finally passed should reward aliens who follow our laws. The only reward that matters is to increase employment-based immigration visas and temporary guest worker visas. Otherwise, millions more will find illegal ways to enter the United States.
For more information on this topic, please contact Joel Pfeffer
This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Business Forum section. Read more:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Business Workshop: No Harm, No Lawsuit

David G. Oberdick, Esquire

In an unusual case involving running shoes, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that when it comes to intellectual property invalidity lawsuits, there is no basis to pursue a claim against a party that has voluntarily and unconditionally ceased its own infringement claims.

The case started when Nike sued Yums apparel for trade dress infringement for allegedly selling shoes similar to the trademarked design of the Nike Air Force 1. Yums filed a counterclaim to invalidate Nike's trade dress registration.

Nike decided it didn't want to proceed with its lawsuit and withdrew its infringement claim.

Nike also gave Yums a written covenant promising not to sue Yums for infringement of the Nike Air Force 1 mark for any past or future shoe design Yums might make.

Nike moved to dismiss the invalidity case against it, but Yums opposed the motion. Despite the covenant not to sue, Yums wanted the Nike trade dress rights completely cancelled.

The lower court ruled in Nike's favor that the case should be dismissed. The appeals court agreed with the lower court, and so did the Supreme Court. The reasoning of all the courts was that since the Nike covenant made it impossible for Nike to pursue any claim against Yums, the covenant protects not only Yums, but also its distributors and customers, thereby making the case moot.

The decision appears to give companies initiating lawsuits for intellectual property infringement an easy and inexpensive way out if they believe they are losing or if pursuing the lawsuit gets too costly. But some legal scholars believe the Supreme Court decision gives large companies an unfair advantage when suing smaller firms for intellectual property infringement.
For more information on this topic, please contact David G. Oberdick at
This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Business Workshop section. Business workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. Read more:

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Clock is Ticking for 9,000 Owners of Tax Exempt Properties

Allegheny County Challenges Real Estate Tax Exemptions

June F. Swanson, Esquire
If they haven't received it already, owners of tax-exempt properties in Allegheny County will shortly be getting a notice requiring them to justify  the continued tax-exempt status of their property. The County is sending these notices out under County Ordinance 49-07.  This Ordinance requires that every three years, the owners of tax exempt properties  confirm continued compliance with Pennsylvania's Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act.   According to published statements, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald intends to send  the notification letters over the next few weeks to approximately 9,000 owners of tax-exempt properties in Allegheny County.
By way of background, in April 2012 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirmed the long standing rule that in order to qualify for a real estate tax exemption as an "institution of purely public charity", an organization must meet a five prong test. This test requires that the organization meet all of the following requirements:
  1. Advances a charitable purpose;
  2. Donates (or offers free of charge) a substantial amount of its services;
  3. Benefits a class of persons who are legitimate subjects of charity;
  4. Relieves the government of some of its burden; AND
  5. Operates entirely free of private profit motive.
In order to maintain tax exemptions for their properties, organizations have sixty (60) days from the date of the notification letter to provide the County's Office of Property Assessments with a written explanation of how all five of these criteria are met.  An otherwise tax-exempt nonprofit organization may not be entitled to exemptions for all of its properties, as the use of the property will control whether the exemption is appropriate.  If a property is rented to tenants and is generating income, either all or a portion of the property could be deemed to be taxable.
Many nonprofits have paid little or no attention to increases in the assessed value of their real estate under the assumption that no tax will be due. However, for most nonprofits that are already dealing with cuts in government funding and constricting philanthropic dollars, the impact could be staggering.  If a property located in the City of Pittsburgh assessed at $300,000 suddenly loses its real estate tax exemption, the tax liability - without adjustments - for County, City, and School District taxes using 2013 rates would equal $6,582.00.  If that assessed value is above fair market value, the taking of a valuation appeal should also be considered; Allegheny County requires that valuation appeals for 2013 be filed by April 1.
Nonprofits should prepare to respond quickly and effectively to the Office of Property Assessments.  Now is the time for organizations to gather information on how they meet the five prong test, to revisit the Application for Exemption of Real Estate Taxation previously provided to the County, to examine the specific use of individual properties and to review the data regarding those properties appearing on the Allegheny County Real Estate website (  As the evaluation process progresses, the Office of Property Assessments will be posting answers to frequently asked questions online.
The members of the Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Real Estate Group have consistently achieved positive results for their clients in dealings with the Office of Property Assessments.  Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP has extensive experience advising nonprofit entities on organizational, real estate and tax matters and can assist your organization with this new challenge.  If you have any questions, please contact June Swanson at 412-456-2824 or by email at  You can also contact any other attorney at the firm with whom you have worked (Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Attorney Listing).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

ABA Intellectual Property Roundtable - March 14, 2013

January Topic: “To Seed or Not to Seed: A Primer on Patent Exhaustion and Implied Licenses”
David G. Oberdick, Esquire
Meyer, Unkovic & Scott and David Oberdick are proud to host the Pittsburgh Roundtable for the American Bar Association Intellectual Property Litigation Section. These quarterly meetings allow IP litigation practitioners to network with other attorneys and discuss topics of interest. All practicing attorneys interested in intellectual property matters are invited to attend - you need not be members of the ABA IP Litigation Section.
Date: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Time: noon
Location:  Law Offices of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP
Henry W. Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield Street, Suite 1300, Pittsburgh, PA  15222
RSVP:  By March 11th to
Please click here to view the full invitation.