GRAD DIARY| August 2014 Legal News Review & Commentary

THEME: Big Wins for Small Organisations

Case

Cosmetic Warriors v Amazon.co.uk [2014]

(Precedent case: Interflora v Marks & Spencer [2013]

Area

Intellectual Property

What to Note

Amazon was using Lush Cosmetics (whose I.P is owned by Cosmetic Warriors Ltd and licensed to Lush) trademark ‘Lush Cosmetics’ in its Google Ad Words campaign, which consequently directed Lush’s customers to Amazon where it was selling competitor products under the Lush search term. Lush won.

Case

Comic Enterprises v Twentieth Century Fox [2014]

Area

Intellectual Property

What to Note

Twentieth Century Fox is forced to rebrand the television programme ‘Glee’ as it infringes Comic Enterprises ‘The Glee Club’.

Make the Link

– These David and Goliath cases exemplify that the dominant forces of large corporations do not make them exempt from intellectual property law.

– Is this indicative of a trend regarding SME’s standing up to corporate giants and defending them selves?

– Will larger corporations who have adopted more aggressive business strategies in the past going to be forced to play by a fairer set of rules?


 THEME: The Evolving Legal Industry

 

 Update

Alternative Business Structures

Area: n/a

What to Notice

It has been two years since ABS licenses arrived but their impact is already being felt.

Convenient ‘one-stop shop’ legal service experiences, created by PwC Legal and others who have adopted the ABS structure, have arguably created a competitive challenge to law firms, as there is a surge of new entrants into the market.

 

Make the Link

  • Firms are responding to the ABS competition threat through merging. As mentioned below, merging can in turn raise the entry barrier for new law firms and/or challenge the survival of smaller firms.
  • However, the increased competition in the legal service market is useful for those requiring lawyers as ABS’s can offer services at a lower expense due to their cost structures often varying from traditional law firm business models.

Update

SJ Law Criminal Defence Solicitors & Mackesys Criminal Defence and Family Law Solicitors have announced a merger.

Area: Criminal Legal Aid

 What to Notice

– Post merger, the firm will become the third largest provider of criminal defence legal aid in England and Wales. (The second largest in London).

– Vijesh Saujani (SJ Law Managing Partner) has said the dominant motivation for merging was the government’s further plans to reduce legal aid.

 

Make the Link

  • Government austerity measures are impacting the provision of legal services. If more firms merge in similar circumstances, smaller firms become no longer competitive and are pushed out of the legal aid arena.
  • The legal market in general is becoming increasingly competitive, hence the current trend we are witnessing in the UK of merging firms. Despite the very recent news reporting that the UK economy is finally improving after six years, we are still seeing law firms having to make economy of scale-based decisions to remain competitive and survive

Financial Industry Shake-Up

Update

The Banking Reform [2013]

Area

Financial Services

What to Notice

The UK banking sphere is taking a legislative push toward adopting lower risk strategies that enable banks to buffer themselves against market instability. One tool includes the introduction of criminal sanctions for “reckless conduct that leads to bank failure”. [gov.uk]

 

Make the Link

  • We are seeing the beginning of the UK banking system mirroring that of the tightly controlled US.
  • The reform includes ring-fencing certain banks, which will in turn mean that some businesses may no longer have the convenience of a one-stop shop experience when banking.

Update

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a guidance document for financial institutions using third party banking technology platforms.

Areas

Financial Services & Technology

What to Notice

Whilst there are benefits to outsourcing technology, it can create difficulties for banks in term of controlling their services that use third parties. Equally, this can create difficulties for regulators when they need to access employees etc.

Make the Link

-This banking technology solutions guidance falls in line with the current theme within the banking sector, of creating sustainable and secure business practices that safeguard against risk.

-With the UK economy said to be recovering for the first time in six years, any moves to restructure and guide the UK banking sector towards risk prevention is a positive contribution toward strengthening the economy.

-The ‘Heart Bleed’ bug that hit headlines earlier this year highlighted the vulnerability of handling sensitive data online. Barclays mobile banking application was of many platforms whose SSL encryption was compromised, thus the FCA’s guidance is a welcomed response to this privacy crisis.

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