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Archive for the ‘REWIND’ Category

REWIND: International Business News #102

In this week’s REWIND of international business news,

Food Giants Continue to Grow

Two European supermarket operating giants have announced that they have entered early-stage discussions about a merger.  If combined, Ahold, the Dutch supermarket operator and owner of Stop & Shop and Giant grocery stores, and Delhaize Group, the Belgium based owner of Food Lion grocery stores, would constitute a 25.6 euro supermarket giant.  This transaction may lead to a consolidation of stores in overlapping territories of the northeast United States.

European Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Safeguards Can be Navigated

Zesty, a UK-based healthcare appointment booking startup recently closed a $7.2 million Series A funding round to expand in the UK and additional EU markets.   Similar companies in the US, such as ZocDoc, have existed for some time.  Zesty can integrate into existing healthcare providers’ practice management systems to help book appointments.  Series A funding, presumably after detailed diligence, suggests that institutional investors have comfort that Zesty can create a scalable platform in compliance with the EU rules.

IPOs to Become Easier to Manage for Startups

The Securities and Exchange Board of India is the latest to announce that it will consider a new policy for IPOs for start-up companies.  Regulators around the world appear to have realized that the IPO process is very costly and burdensome and seek to relieve some of those costs and burdens.  This must be welcome news for VCs who invest in late stage funding rounds at high valuations (reducing the potential exit opportunities) and retail investors who are clamoring to get a piece of these tech darlings.  As always, caution is warranted for the unsophisticated and risk averse.

REWIND: International Business News #101

This week, in the REWIND of international business news, we discuss Google possibly violating antitrust laws and more trouble for Airbnb.

Yet another regulatory body may question whether Google violated antitrust laws.

European authorities began an inquiry into Google’s practice of bundling apps with its Android operating system last year.  It seems that the inquiry has given some ammunition to at least one of Google’s rivals to seek a similar inquiry from another regulator.  Yandex, Russia’s most popular search engine, has asked Russian authorities to investigate Google’s practices after alleging that vendors were unable to pre-install Yandex onto Android devices.

Airbnb may be ready to check out in Singapore.

Singapore is the latest sovereign to scrutinize the legality of Airbnb’s offerings.  Airbnb facilitates the short-term rental of personal residences in lieu of a hotel.  Existing regulations in Singapore prohibit the rental of a personal residence for less than six months.  Many other countries and cities around the world impose similar restrictions, or require hotel taxes to be paid for rentals of the type facilitated through Airbnb.  Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is soliciting public feedback regarding the existing regulations.  Singaporean regulators acknowledge the benefits provided to homeowners (primarily an opportunity to earn extra cash) as well as the drawbacks of residential neighborhoods becoming hotel districts.

REWIND: International Business News #100

In this week’s REWIND of international business news,

  • The U.S. Copyright Office released a report last week detailing its findings on, and recommendations to improve, what it calls “the aging music licensing framework.”  Acknowledging that many in the music industry consider the licensing system to be broken, the “Copyright and the Music Marketplace” report undertook an exhaustive review of the music  licensing process, including a focus on music steaming services.  The study indicated a finding of consensus on four issues across the industry:  (1) creators should be fairly compensated; (2) the licensing process should be more efficient; (3) market participants should have access to authoritative data to identify and license sound recordings and musical works; and (4) payment and usage information should be transparently available to rightsholders.  The Copyright Office made four recommendations to address issues in the licensing system:  (1) regulate musical works and sound recordings in a consistent manner; (2) extend the public performance right in sound records to terrestrial radio broadcasts; (3) fully federalize pre-1972 sound recordings; and (4) adopt a uniform market-based ratesetting standard for all government rates.  The Office also offers recommendations on changes to the government’s role in the licensing process, detailed at length in the report.  While many in the music industry seemed initially receptive to the report and its findings, there is concern that the recommendations may increase costs to music streaming services, and that the recommendations still do not go far enough to fairly compensate artists.
  • Chipmaker Qualcomm, Inc., is unhappy with new policies set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”), and as a result has indicated it is rethinking its participation in the Institute.  The IEEE sets industry standards for Wi-Fi, including the royalty rate paid by companies such as Apple, Inc., and Microsoft Corp., pay to companies such as Qualcomm to use Wi-Fi on their devices.  Patent owners and their licensees are divided on whether royalty rates should be based on the wholesale price of the smart phone, tablet, or other device that contains the chip, or if the rate should be based on the percentage of the relevant chip at issue—a difference that can have significant consequences for the patent owner given that smart phone and devices typically costs hundreds of dollars, while chips may cost only tens of dollars.  In addition, the newly approved rules would limit patent holders such as Qualcomm from seeking injunctions or court intervention against licensees not properly paying the royalties.  For its part, the Department of Justice has also concluded the rule changes will favorably benefit competition and customers.  Without a doubt, as the demand for Wi-Fi and other means to send and receive data on mobile phones and devices continues to increase, the policies adopted by the IEEE will continue to have significant impact on its members.
  • Australia’s Senate passed the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act of 2015, which introduces several reforms designed to better protect the rights of intellectual property holders.   Among the changes, the Act permits for a single patent application and examination process for innovators trying to obtain patent protection for the same invention in both Australia and New Zealand.  In addition, the Act implements a protocol of the Word Trade Organization, permitting generic drug manufacturers to manufacture patented drugs—i.e. those that are typically very costly—and export those medicines in instances where a developing country is experiencing a particular health epidemic.

REWIND: International Business News #99

In this week’s REWIND of international business news,

  • Trademark owners and applicants will be happy to learn that the cost of filing or renewing a trademark application will be a little lower in 2015.  Scheduled to take effect on January 17, 2015, the USPTO has reduced the cost of applications by $50, meaning that the fee for an application will go from $325 per class to $275 per class. To take advantage of the reduced rate, an applicant must agree to file all documents electronically and permit email communications with the Trademark Office.  In addition the Trademark Office will reduce the fee for a TEAS application to renew a registration by $100, with the fee going from $400 to $300 per class.  The reduced charges are an effect of the American Invents Act, which seeks to stress efficiency in the USPTO and increase the usage of electronic filing and processing of trademark applications.
  • In what may become a more common occurrence, Coca-Cola has filed trademark applications to register two Twitter hashtags.  The applications, which are for the hashtags “#smilewithacoke” and “#cokecanpics,” were filed with the Trademark Office in December. Though Coke is not the first entity to seek registration of a hashtag, this appears to be it’s first foray into seeking protection for parts of its social media campaigns, and may signal a growing trend in intellectual property protection.
  • According to a notice issued by its Central Government, China is seeking to triple the number of filed patents by 2020.  To further  its goal, the country indicated it will strengthen its laws and policies to better protect intellectual property.  In addition, China will try to reduce the amount of time to review and process patent and trademark applications; the country hopes to reduce the time to review patent applications from 22.3 months to 20.2, and the time to review trademark applications from 10 months to 9 months by 2020.
  • The names of iconic hotels, such as the Ahwahnee Hotel, and other concession properties in Yosemite National Park face the possibility of being changed.  The contract between the National Park Service and Delaware North, the entity that has run the concession properties in Yosemite for over 20 years, is scheduled to expire this year.  The Park Service is currently soliciting bids from companies to act as the park’s concession operator; this may result in someone other than Delaware North acting in this capacity.  Delaware North has asserted that if that is the case,  any such new entity would have to pay them $51 million to acquire its “intangible assets,” which include the trademark registrations for all of the concession properties in Yosemite.  While it is not clear if Delaware North will truly be able to assert and enforce its ownership claims over the registered marks, there is a possibility the Park Service may change the names to avoid becoming embroiled in a legal dispute.

REWIND: International Business News #98

In this week’s REWIND of international business news,

  • Uber Technologies continues to face legal scrutiny around the world. Last week, authorities in Taiwan declared the car-hailing service provided by Uber to be illegal. Click here to read more. Meanwhile in China, an Uber training session was raided by police last Wednesday.  Click here to read more.
  • In Italy, TripAdvisor, the American travel website that allows reviewers to rank and comment on hotels and restaurants, has been fined 500,000 Euros ($610,000) by the Italian competition authorities for failing to prevent false reviews on its web site.
  • With the rouble in distress, the Russian government has ordered a handful of government-held exporters to sell their foreign currency reserves. Officials say that private companies will not be required to take similar actions. Click here to read more.
  • Alibaba has spent over $161 million since 2013 protecting customers and combating counterfeit goods, in efforts to turnaround its prior mention on the U.S. Trade Representative’s list of “notorious markets” for intellectual property infringement. Click here to read more.

REWIND: International Business News #96

Are there any bounds to EU privacy protection?  Google is fighting to find out.  An EU court ruling earlier this year requires that Google remove personal information from its search results upon request.  According to Google’s top lawyer, this “right to be forgotten” appears to have been created without providing for clear objective tests on what information is in the public interest and need not be removed.  Google is now touring European cities and seeking online comment in an attempt to seek feedback on the EU rules.

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REWIND: International Business News #95

In this week’s REWIND of international business news, Canada gets tough on spam, China hammers down on M&A deals and shipping alliances, and in a curious spirit of bonhomie, Russia gives in on its bitcoin stance and offers tax amnesty for offshore companies.

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REWIND: International Business News #94

This week in international business news, it is patent, trademark, and more patent. Could one small step for FindtheBest be a giant leap for patent law? Is Google making an extra effort to steer clear of lawsuit by FIFA over World Cup? EU investigates “patent box” tax breaks; could that spell trouble for Apple, Starbucks, and Fiat?

Intellectual Property

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REWIND: International Business News #93

In this week’s REWIND of international business law news, a New York judge resuscitates a colonial law to allow a lawsuit against U.S. companies for doing business with the South African apartheid regime, India braces for a potential United States downgrade of its intellectual property rights classification, and New York authorities poise to charge area car dealerships in a scheme to export luxury cars to China.

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REWIND: International Business News #92

This week, our REWIND of international business news covers Italian court decision that the sky is the limit for Emirates Airline; meanwhile, European venture capitalists skip the 11-hour flight to Silicon Valley to invest in European tech startups; and major global music companies are accused of trying to take the whole “cloud” down.  

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