Latest news

“Clients say ‘they’re very good at knowledge-sharing’.”

Chambers UK

US eBulletin: Summer 2019

27 June 2019

Welcome to the summer edition of our US eBulletin, where we take a look at the latest EU Copyright Directive updates, GDPR (one year on from implementation), a new consumer rights investigation into the video games industry and a government consultation on R&D tax reliefs available to SMEs.

We also reference two of our recent work highlights, including defending HRH Duke of Sussex and our role in an investment by Ocado into a food technology innovator Karakuri.

EU Copyright Directive: latest updates

We have been closely following developments in relation to the EU Copyright Directive and the potential impact it could have on a number of sectors we specialise in at Harbottle & Lewis.

Here are some recent views from some of our lawyers:

  • Raffaella De Santis shares her views with a number of publications on the impact of the EU Copyright Directive on the internet and digital platforms, you can read more here.
  • Alan Moss and Kostya Lobov share their views on what the contract adjustment mechanism means for games studios, you can read more here.

GDPR: one year on in numbers

The last twelve months have been a long teething period for GDPR compliance.

Companies underwent a herculean effort to update their policies and practices in time for the GDPR implementation date. Those who breathed a sigh of relief when 25 May 2018 came and went without the earth opening up under them should be mindful that compliance is an ongoing process, and that non-compliance can have serious reputational and financial consequences.

The figures we have seen reveal interesting trends in consumer and business attitudes towards the GDPR, and data protection authorities’ use of their new enforcement powers.

You can read the article in full here.

CMA investigates auto-renewal contracts in the games industry

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently announced that it will begin investigating the consumer practices of various games companies, with a particular focus on the use of auto-renewing membership contracts.

The video game landscape has transformed over the last five years with a new focus on so-called ‘live service’ games and online multiplayer modes. In order to use these services on an ongoing basis, consumers are often required to pay for a membership for the specific platform or game. These memberships are consumer contracts which must comply with UK and EU consumer rights laws.

The reason that these contracts are now the subject of an investigation is that auto-renewals have previously been highlighted by the CMA as terms which may be considered unfair in consumer contracts. It is vitally important the companies ensure their renewal practices are considered fair because, if not, they may be in breach of consumer protection legislation and the contract may not be binding on the consumer.

You can read the article in full here.

Government consultation on R&D tax reliefs for SMEs

The government is consulting on changes to research and development (R&D) tax reliefs, first announced at Budget 2018, which are intended to prevent abuse of the small or medium sized enterprise (SME) scheme.

To help prevent abuse of the SME scheme, Budget 2018 announced that the amount of payable tax credit that a qualifying loss-making business can receive through the relief in any one accounting period will be capped.

The cap will be applied in April 2020 and the government is consulting on how the cap will be applied, so as to minimise any impact on genuine businesses, before it is legislated in Finance Bill 2019-20.

Gary Ashford, Tax partner said: “Recently we have seen many changes in the international and domestic corporate tax world, requiring companies to demonstrate ‘Substance’.

“Whilst the changes being proposed for R&D are very specific, this is yet another demonstration of an increasing requirement for more ‘Substance’.

“Given that many commentators would say that the UK SME population is the lifeblood of the UK economy, and the UK is also a driving force for innovation, owners of SME companies with R&D functions, should be aware of these potential changes.”

HRH Duke of Sussex

On 16 May 2019 a legal complaint brought on behalf of our client HRH The Duke of Sussex against the well-known paparazzi agency Splash was successfully concluded when a Statement was read in Open Court.

Splash syndicate photographs and videos for media organisations and other third parties both here and in the United States. On this occasion Splash chartered a helicopter for the purpose of taking photographs and video footage of The Duke’s private home in Oxfordshire. The helicopter flew over the home at low altitude allowing photographs to be taken of and into the living area, dining area and bedroom.

The legal complaint was for misuse of private information, breaches of The Duke’s right to privacy and breaches of data protection legislation. Splash provided undertakings to stop selling the photographs and not repeat its conduct. It also agreed to pay a sum in damages and costs, and apologised to The Duke.

The full Statement in Open Court can be read here.

H&L advises Karakuri on investment round led by Ocado

Harbottle & Lewis has advised food technology innovator, Karakuri Ltd, on a £7m seed round, led by Ocado. Other investors include Hoxton Ventures, FirstMinute Capital and Taylor Brothers.

With a growing demand for personalised nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle, Karakuri uses the latest innovation in robotics, machine learning, optics and sensors to allow restaurants and food retailers to offer personalised, freshly prepared, high-quality meals, which maximise nutritional benefits and minimise food waste.

Karakuri’s system personalises any meal using its robots to dispense the exact ingredients and quantities into that dish.

You can read the article in full here.

Back to news

Share this page