• 2023 Reduction In Property Taxes (Prop 8)

    Office vacancies have caused the values of Bay Area commercial real property to significantly decline in 2022. The value of real property that is used to determine the property tax assessment for the 2023-2024 fiscal year (which runs from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024) is determined as of the January 1, 2023 valuation date.

    Depending on the extent to which the value of your property has declined, it is likely that the assessed value of your property, as of January 1, 2023, is considerably lower than the value currently listed on the assessment roll. If a property owner requests a reduction, the Assessor has the authority to proactively change the assessed value of a property to recognize a decrease in value (a one-time Proposition 8 reduction). In addition, if a property owner disputes the assessed value, the owner can file an Appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board and receive an Administrative Hearing. The deadline for filing an Appeal in most counties is September 15, although a few are November 30.

    Our tax partner, Jeff Bernstein, has extensive experience in property tax assessment matters, and has attained significant reductions in property tax valuations for many owners of commercial and multi-family residential properties. If a reduced valuation can be achieved, the property tax savings could be substantial.

    Please contact Jeff directly (jbernstein@coblentzlaw.com) if you are interested in discussing your potential for a reduced property tax valuation.

  • 35 Coblentz Attorneys Recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America for 2024

    In its annual listing of the nation’s top legal talent, Best Lawyers® recognized 35 Coblentz attorneys in the 2024 Best Lawyers® in America guide, including 15 attorneys recognized as Ones to Watch®.

    Categories of recognition are listed below.

    2024 Best Lawyers in America Recognitions

    2024 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America Recognitions

    Best Lawyers lists are based entirely on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. The 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® is based on more than 16 million evaluations. To view the full rankings, please visit the Best Lawyers website.

    Categories: News
  • 2023 Mid-Year Labor and Employment Update

    A Comprehensive Look at New Developments in Labor and Employment Law

    By Fred Alvarez, Hannah Jones, Stephen Lanctot, Allison Moser, Kenneth Nabity

    Download a PDF version of this report here.

    We are halfway through 2023 so it is a good time to look back on this year’s employment law developments so far and look forward to what lies ahead.

    Our 2023 Mid-Year Labor and Employment Update provides a short overview of the legal changes that we are monitoring the closest and that we think our clients should be aware of. These changes include new laws, regulations, and decisions in the areas of workplace diversity programs, pay transparency, non-compete agreements, religious accommodations, non-disclosure and confidentiality restrictions, independent contractor relationships, whistleblowing, drug-free workplaces, and remote employee onboarding. We’ve also included our thoughts on “what now?” regarding each key legal development and potential ways to help mitigate employment law risk.

    You can download the full report here. If you have any questions about any of the issues discussed in this mid-year update, please reach out to a member of the Coblentz Employment Team.

  • California Privacy Protection Agency Signals Intent To Keep The Gas On Privacy Enforcement Despite Recent Court Decision

    By Scott Hall and Amber Leong

    Despite (or possibly in reaction to) the recent court decision halting the enforcement of the regulations for the Consumer Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) by nine months, California regulatory authorities have made clear that they are still full speed ahead on privacy.

    Immediately after the recent court decision on June 30, 2023, the California Attorney General’s Office issued a press release that it had sent notices to certain California employers regarding their compliance efforts in connection with employee privacy rights. Subsequently, the California Privacy Protection Agency (“CPPA”) released a statement on July 31, 2023 announcing its intent to review automakers’ data privacy practices for any “connected vehicle[s]” given these vehicles’ ability collect information “via built-in apps, sensors, and cameras, which can monitor people both inside and near the vehicle.” A few days later, on August 4, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the CPPA filed a petition seeking to overturn the June 30, 2023 trial court decision delaying enforcement of the CPRA regulations.

    Thus, in what has been a very busy past few weeks, California has clearly signaled its intent and willingness to move forward with the enforcement of privacy rights of California residents under the CPRA (which remains in effect despite the halt of regulations by court order). If companies have not already done so – they should, as soon as possible, assess whether they are subject to the CPRA, and if so, work with their legal teams to ensure their data collection practices, privacy policies, service provider agreements, and mechanisms to process consumer requests are all in place. Companies should also closely review areas of privacy that have been identified as enforcement priorities by regulators, including employee privacy rights, selling and sharing of consumer data, and connected vehicle data collection. California has shown it is not afraid to dole out fines in the millions. And with a new, dedicated California Privacy Protection Agency, in addition to the AG’s office, Federal Trade Commission, and other privacy enforcers, we can be sure to see a continued focus on privacy enforcement. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Coblentz Data Privacy & Cybersecurity team.

  • What We’re Reading, Watching, and Listening to: August 2023

    A roundup of news and multimedia from the Unfamiliar Terrain team:

    San Francisco

    Bay Area

    California and Beyond

    Categories: Blogs
  • How To Prepare For California’s New Privacy Law For Children

    By Scott Hall and Bina Patel

    Although you are likely breathing a sigh of relief after just finishing compliance efforts for the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), don’t relax just yet. California has another new privacy law going into effect on July 1, 2024: The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (“CAADCA”). The new law is aimed at enhancing privacy, data, and safety protections for children and teens who use online platforms. Businesses subject to the CPRA should review the requirements of CAADCA closely to determine how their data protection measures should be updated, as the new law expands upon existing laws geared towards minors, such as California’s Parent’s Accountability and Child Protection Act and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).

    Businesses Subject to CAADCA

    CAADCA defines “business” the same way as CPRA.[1]  But, CAADCA only applies to businesses that provide online services, products, or features that are “likely to be accessed by children” who are under age 18. Still, this is a very broad scope, and much broader, for example, than COPPA, which is limited to operators of websites “directed to children” under 13, or with “actual knowledge” that a website is collecting personal information of children under 13.  CAADCA therefore expands both the age range (by 5 years) and the types of businesses and websites subject to regulation, since many online services, products, or features may be “likely to be accessed by children” under 18 even if they are not specifically directed at children or with actual knowledge of access by children. Whether a website is “likely to be accessed by children” will be determined based on various factors, including whether it is directed to children, routinely accessed by a significant number of children, has advertisements marketed to children, has design elements that are known to be of interest to children (i.e., games, cartoons, music, and celebrities who appeal to children), and has a significant audience that is determined to be children.

    Affirmative Requirements of Covered Businesses

    CAADCA requires covered businesses to implement the following affirmative actions:

    • Perform a Data Protection Impact Assessment. Covered businesses must complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment (“DPIA”) before publicly launching a new online service, product, or feature that is “likely to be accessed by children.” The DPIA must include detailed information about a business’s online service, product, or feature, including its purpose, how it uses children’s personal information, and how it could harm children through its algorithms, design features, and targeted ads. The DPIA is confidential and exempt from public disclosure. Each business must retain documentation of the DPIA for as long as it provides the online service, product, or feature to children and provide a copy to the Attorney General upon request.
    • Provide privacy by default. Covered businesses must configure all default privacy settings offered by the online service, product, or feature to offer a high level of privacy, unless the business can demonstrate a compelling reason that a different setting is in the best interest of children.
    • Provide a privacy policy and terms. Covered businesses must provide privacy information, terms of service, policies, and community standards concisely, prominently, and using clear language suited to the age of the children that are likely to access their online service, product, or feature.
    • Allow children to exercise privacy rights. Covered businesses must provide prominent, accessible, and responsive tools to help children or their parents/guardians exercise their privacy rights and report concerns.
    • Identify tracking signals. Covered businesses must provide an obvious signal to a child when the child is being monitored or tracked by the online service, product, or feature.

    Restrictions on Covered Businesses

    CAADCA also prohibits covered businesses from engaging in the following actions:

    • Using a child’s personal information in a way that is “materially detrimental to the physical health, mental health, or well-being of a child.”
    • Collecting, selling, sharing, or retaining the personal information of children for any reason other than a reason for which the personal information was collected, unless the business can demonstrate a compelling reason that aligns with the best interests of children.
    • Collecting, selling, or sharing any precise geolocation information of children, unless it is strictly necessary for the business to provide the service, product, or feature and only for a limited time.
    • Using dark patterns, which are online experiences designed to encourage children to provide too much personal information.
    • Profiling children, though this prohibition is subject to certain exceptions.
    • Using personal information to estimate the age of a child for any other purpose or retaining that personal information longer than necessary to estimate age.

    Enforcement of CAADCA

    There is no private right of action under CAADCA, but the law authorizes the Attorney General to seek an injunction or civil penalty against any business that violates its provisions. The Attorney General can hold violators liable for a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per affected child. The new law gives companies an opportunity to cure any alleged violation within 90 days so that they can avoid these penalties.

    Next Steps for California Businesses

    While CAADCA does not go into effect until July 1, 2024, it is vital that California businesses take steps to ensure their compliance with the new law in advance of the effective date. These steps may include the following:

    • Assess whether your business is subject to CAADCA. Determine if your business’s online products, services, or features are “likely to be accessed by children” under age 18 as defined under the new law.
    • Start to prepare a Data Protection Impact Assessment. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the DPIA and strategize how your business would perform such an assessment. For an online product, service, or feature that was launched before July 1, 2024, a DPIA must be completed by July 1, 2024. After that, a DPIA must be completed before launching any new online service, product, or feature that is “likely to be accessed by children.”
    • Provide data privacy information in appropriate language for children. Revise your privacy information, terms of service, policies, and community standards so that they are accessible to the age group of children who are likely to access your online service, product, or feature.
    • Start planning changes your business will need to make to ensure compliance. Businesses should consider how they can redesign their products, including those that have launched and those in development, to mitigate the risk of harm to children. For example, businesses will need to adjust their default privacy settings to accommodate a high level of privacy by default. A service, product, or feature should also provide an obvious signal to a child when their online activity is monitored or their location is tracked.
    • Ensure that your business is not engaging in any prohibited activities. As described above, CAADCA imposes certain limitations on how and for what purpose a covered business may collect, sell, share, or retain a child’s personal information.

    Please contact the Coblentz Privacy Team with any questions about CAADCA or other privacy issues.

    To view a PDF version of this article, please click here.

    [1] The CPRA defines a “business” as any for-profit entity operating in California that collects personal information of California residents and satisfies one of three requirements: (i) the company has annual gross revenues of more than $25 million; (ii) the company buys, sells, or shares personal information of at least 100,000 California residents; or (iii) the company derives at least 50% of its annual revenues from selling or sharing California residents’ personal information.

  • Vine Notes: Relating wine to beer and spirits, restaurant services, even coffee and fruit

    Wine trademarks have been the subject of recent decisions from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In analyzing whether there is a likelihood of confusion between trademarks, these decisions illustrate the growing trend toward finding wine to be related to other types of alcohol, restaurant services, and even coffee, and fruit. Sabrina Larson and Bina Patel discuss the legal landscape of the vineyard and registering wine trademarks in the North Bay Business Journal article “Vine Notes: Relating wine to beer and spirits, restaurant services, even coffee and fruit.” To read the full article, please click here.