The Supreme Court (Civil Chamber) recently issued its judgment following cassation proceedings against a 2015 Madrid Provincial Audience judgment. The proceedings stemmed from a 2011 collective action against Iberia, which the Spanish Consumers and Users Organisation had filed with the Madrid Commercial Court in order to obtain the annulment of several clauses of Iberia's standard terms and conditions.
The new Data Protection Act recently entered into force, introducing a number of so-called 'digital rights'. The Spanish legal system already provides a framework regarding the use of digital devices at work and how employers can exercise control over them in view of employees' right to privacy. Although the act has introduced no significant changes in this regard, employees' right to privacy regarding the use of digital devices at work has now been set out in law.
The new Data Protection Act was recently published in the Official State Gazette, transposing the EU General Data Protection Regulation into Spanish law. In addition, the act has introduced a number of so-called 'digital rights' which directly concern employees, including the right to privacy in the use of technological devices at work and the right to disconnect from work.
The Navarre High Court recently held that an employer had been justified in dismissing an employee for taking her paid annual leave on dates that were unauthorised by the employer. Following this judgment, employees who ignore their employer's instructions regarding the period during which paid annual leave can be taken run the significant risk of being dismissed on disciplinary grounds for disobeying their employer's orders and breaching their contractual good faith obligation.
The employment courts recently expanded the scope of the rights and privileges granted to employees who exercise their right to request a reduction of their working hours, including to take care of a child under 12 years old. A recent Supreme Court decision represents another step forward in recognising these rights when employees are dismissed and the dismissal is declared null and void by an employment court.
Absenteeism costs Spanish companies approximately €77 billion a year and has become such a pressing issue that the Ministry of Finance has announced measures to combat it in the public sector. Companies must be proactive in implementing measures and controls to reduce absenteeism in order to raise employee awareness of such impact and enable them to avoid the implementation of coercive measures.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the revocation of the preliminary injunction granted ex parte at the request of Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) for the alleged infringement of its NuvaRing patent. The court confirmed that an assessment of disputed facts in this context does not require certainty, but rather probability. Therefore, MSD's appeal was deemed to be groundless as it alleged an infringement of the rules of the burden of proof, which – in reality – did not apply.
In a recent case, Barcelona Commercial Court Number 2 declared that teleshopping ads broadcast by the defendant had infringed the copyright in similar ads created by the plaintiffs. This was an unusual case, as the claim relied on proving the statutory required level of originality for a creation to be copyrightable and the plagiarism of the pre-existing works in a particularly active sector.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports recently fined a website owner under the Consolidated Text of the IP Act for allowing users to download various copyrighted content from Spain. Although several similar websites had been taken down prior to this case, this was the first time that an economic fine of this magnitude was imposed. The main reason for this was that the administrative infringement in this case was classified as 'very severe'.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed a trial court judgment which had sentenced the defendant for a crime against intellectual property in accordance with the Criminal Code. For more than 15 years, the infringer had commercialised various products featuring the FC Barcelona trademarks, which he acquired from an official licensee. However, in 2013 the defendant had also begun commercialising illicitly traded products alongside the genuine products.
The Council of Ministers recently approved a preliminary draft law which will partially amend the Trademark Act in order to incorporate the EU Trademark Directive. Ahead of the parliamentary approval procedure, various consulting bodies provided their opinions on the draft text. In this regard, the Economic and Social Council and the General Council of the Judiciary both highlighted certain aspects of the preliminary draft law which they believe could be improved.
The Barcelona Court of Appeal recently confirmed the Barcelona Commercial Court 8 decision which upheld L'Oréal's revocation action against Laboratorios Genesse's AFTERSUN mark. L'Oréal had filed the revocation action against the mark due to its popularisation in the Spanish market. Laboratorios Genesse had filed a counterclaim alleging that L'Oréal's use of the expressions 'after sun' and 'after-sun' infringed its trademark rights.
The Supreme Court recently analysed the differences between compensatory and punitive penalty clauses in lease agreements and established the requirements for the latter to be valid. The court also ruled that a punitive penalty clause's amount cannot be reduced simply because the lessor enters into a new lease agreement immediately after recovering possession of the commercial premises.
Although Article 348bis was included in the Companies Act in 2011, its application was suspended until January 2017. Due to the constant delays in the provision's implementation, there is little case law on the matter and a lack of harmonised criteria for interpreting the provision and applying the right recognised therein. A recent A Coruna Court of Appeals decision on this matter is therefore significant, particularly because it analyses two questions which are likely to arise from the article's application.
A trade union recently sought to declare the existence of a de facto collective dismissal on the grounds that the company had exceeded the maximum number of individual objective dismissals (as well as other comparable terminations) in a 180-day period. However, the Supreme Court rejected the claim and ratified several points regarding collective challenges of terminations that, de facto, could exceed the thresholds.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether the cancellation of a company with the Companies Registry removes its legal capacity or only limits it for the purposes of covering the debts that appear after such cancellation, in which case the company could be sued. Another issue that this ruling clarifies is who should represent such a company in court.
In a June 2016 decision the Supreme Court applied the previous International Merchant Shipping Act 1949 to establish which party was responsible for damages incurred during the unloading of goods. The case centred on whether the transport of goods from the ship to the unloading area constituted land or maritime transport, which in turn would determine whether the claim for damages was subject to an expiration or a prescription period.
Due to the differences between continental and common law, the Spanish courts have found it difficult to distinguish between the legal concepts of 'wilful misconduct' and 'gross negligence'. In recent years, the courts have issued rulings exploring these concepts in a number of cases involving the theft of goods during carriage. Specifically, two 2015 Supreme Court judgments have clarified and consolidated the concepts.