Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Facebook Buys WhatsApp

Facebook Inc has agreed to acquire WhatsApp Inc from Sequoia Capital for a total consideration of $11.64 billion. That is 13 times Facebooks 2013 net income. WhatsApp has 450 million users with 70% active daily, which is 60% the size of Facebook's daily user community of 550 million. The acquisition reflects Facebook's attempt to stay at the top in a changing market. Trends away from using laptops and instead to mobile devices have challenged the Facebook platform. Facebook has responded by building up its own platform apps for photos and messaging but so far did not manage to beat WhatsApp. Therefore it simply buys its competitor now.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Amazon Violates Trademarks In Search Engine Results

Cosmetic Warriors Ltd and Lush Ltd v Ltd [2014] EWHC 181 (Ch)

The High Court tried a case in which the online trader Amazon used Google's  Adword service and its own site's search engine in connection with a third party's trademark. When that trademark was typed in the Google search engine, the user would be presented with a sponsored product ad including the trademark word and a link to the Amazon website, although the product was not sold by Amazon. When that trademark was typed in the search engine on Amazon's website, the user would receive the trademark word auto completed, repeated with product words and linked to competing products. The Court held that in both instances the average consumer could not, without difficulty, ascertain that the goods to which it was directed did not originate with the trademark holder. Therefore Amazon infringed third party's trademark rights.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Unsolicited Recommendation Emails

BGH I ZR 208/12

The German Federal Court heard a case in which the product vendor would ask a user on his commercial website to fill in his and a third party's email addresses in order to have an email sent by the vendor to the third party advertising the products. The Court found that the third party would receive the advertising email without its consent. Despite the fact that the user would start the process by filling in third party's email address, it was the vendor's intention to send an advertising email in his own name. Therefore such recommendation activity created an unsolicited email by the vendor and violated German competition law.

Legal Hyperlinks

European Court of Justice C - 466/12

The European Court of Justice tried the case of a website containing a link to third party's protected work which was displayed on another website. The third party claimed that the link infringed its copyright by illegally giving access to the work on the other website. The Court rejected the claim because the work was unlimitedly publicly displayed with the right holder's consent on the other website. The link on the first website therefore would not grant access to more or different viewers than what the right holder had already consented to. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

ICO Privacy Guidelines For App Developers

The UK Information Commissioner's Office released new privacy guidelines for app developers stressing privacy by design and types of notices and design features required to make apps comply with data protection law.(link)

Computer Manufacturers And Collecting Societies In Germany Settle

The German computer manufacturing industry and the collecting societies representing the interests of authors and other copyright owners in Germany agreed upon copyright levies for desktop computers, notebooks, netbooks and workstations for the period of 01/01/2011 to 31/12/2016. Tablet PCs are not part of the settlement.(link)

Viewing Video Stream Online Is No Illegal Copying

LG Cologne 209 O 188/13

The District Court of Cologne decided that viewing of a video stream online does not constitute an infringement of copyright, unlike the downloading of a video from the internet, because the viewer does not generate a copy of the video.

Bypassing Video Game Console Protections Can Be Legal


The European Court of Justice had to decide a case in which a company sold software to bypass the protection mechanism in Nintendo game consoles. That mechanism allows only legal versions of Nintendo games to be played on the consoles. The Court found that only those prevention mechanisms are protected by law which intend to stop use of illegal copies of works protected by copyright. Mechanisms intending to prevent play of third party, e.g. competitor's games, are not protected by law. Consequently the software sold to bypass Nintendo's prevention mechanism was in so far not illegal. It was the task of the national court before which the case is tried to determine whether Nintendo could use a mechanism that would only prevent playing of illegal copies. If that was technically possible then the bypassing software of the defendant was not illegal.

Privacy And Data Protection Claims Against Google Inc. To Be Tried By English Courts

Vidal-Hall & Ors v Google Inc. [2014] EWHC 13 (QB)

The English High Court had to decide whether claims by British residents for breach of privacy and data protection against the US company Google Inc., not their UK entity, could be tried before an English Court.The claims concern Google Inc.'s collection of information from the devices the claimants used to access the internet and use of that information to generate advertisements targeted at them.
It found that it would be very burdensome for the claimants to bring proceedings in the US. There were serious issues to be tried and the claimants had clearly established that England was the appropriate jurisdiction. The issues of law raised by Google Inc. were complicated ones and in a developing area of law. It was better for all parties that the issues of English law be resolved by an English Court, with the usual right of appeal, whcih would not be available if the issues were resolved by an American court deciding English law as a question of fact. The Court also held that "damage" in section 13 of the Data Protection Act did not have to be financial loss but would include non-pecuniary damage.