The EU Trade Secrets Directive seeks to harmonise the protection of trade secrets in all EU member states. In general, the implementation of the directive is positive for franchisors, as the protection of trade secrets and confidential information is key to the success of a franchise system. Although franchisors may be able to rely on the statutory definition of 'trade secret' set out under the directive, they should nonetheless continue to ensure that their confidential information is safeguarded contractually.
The European Commission recently published a study which identifies the emerging trends and best practices with regard to the national courts' enforcement of state aid law across the European Union. In terms of trends, the study highlights that national courts rarely conclude that unlawful state aid has been granted (by their national authorities) and hence have rarely awarded remedies in favour of complainants that allege that state aid has been granted. This trend is particularly evident in relation to damages claims.
The European Commission recently published a new notice on the implementation of its decisions ordering the recovery of state aid. The recovery notice is far more detailed than the 2007 notice which it replaces and reflects recent developments in European Commission practice, including by providing more detail on tax state aid cases. For example, the notice provides new detailed guidance on issues such as the quantification of the state aid to be recovered.
For many years, tax authorities have rejected holding companies' right to deduct input value added tax; however, the European Court of Justice has issued several decisions that have enabled a slow but unequivocal paradigm shift towards so-called 'active' or 'mixed' holdings (ie, holding companies which are directly or indirectly involved in the management of subsidiaries and provide them with taxable services). This article examines the most important decisions in this regard.
The European Union has added further impetus to its objective of providing greater transparency with regard to harmful tax practices through an amendment to EU Directive 2011/16/EU. The directive has introduced the mandatory reporting of cross-border arrangements that are indicative of potentially aggressive tax planning. The relevant disclosure requirements must be followed by intermediaries and, in some instances, taxpayers.
The EU Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) entered into force in May 2017 and will fully apply from 26 May 2020. While the existing medical device regime requirements will remain, the MDR imposes additional requirements and stricter standards on medical device manufacturers and broadens the scope of product coverage. This article answers important questions relating to the new regulation.
The existing EU legislation regulating medical devices will be replaced by the Medical Devices Regulation. The new regulation changes the European legal framework for medical devices, broadens the scope of the products and operators covered under this legislation and provides for increased responsibilities and obligations for manufacturers and notified bodies. It entered into force in May 2017 and will fully apply from 26 May 2020.
The European Commission's report 'Competition policy for the digital era' is its most substantial step yet towards crystallising the dialogue on the question of how competition law could or should adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape and the growing role of the digital economy. However, while the report touches on a wide range of ideas and proposals, it openly notes that not all of these are developed in detail or go beyond "very preliminary" conclusions.
The European Commission recently adopted new rules to help insurers invest in equity and private debt and provide long-term capital financing. As a result of the new rules, insurers will have to hold less capital for investments in equity and private debt, including in small and medium-sized enterprises. The newly adopted rules take the form of a delegated regulation, amend the EU Solvency II Directive and follow on from the mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan.
The European Court of Justice recently ruled that EU member states must require employers to establish an objective, reliable and accessible system for measuring their employees' daily working times. Without such a system, the hours and overtime actually worked cannot be reliably measured and employees' ability to enforce their rights cannot be guaranteed.
Section 8 of the Alicante Provincial Court (acting as the EU Trademark Court) recently dismissed Equivalenza Retail, SL's appeal against the Alicante Commercial Court Number 2 judgment in which it had been sentenced for infringing various perfume trademarks owned by Hugo Boss, Gucci and Lacoste in the context of its smell-alike business. Equivalenza had used the trademarks both in comparison lists and orally in commercial speech.
In January 2019 EU member states issued statements with wide-ranging effects for intra-EU investment protection. All member states pledged, among other things, to terminate intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (BITs) by 6 December 2019 and instruct investors not to initiate any new intra-EU investment arbitration proceedings under BITs. This article sheds light on the background of this development and its potential impact on investment protection.
In December 2018 the EU Trademark Court of Appeal declared that the Ibiza Beach drink marketed by Productos Ibicencos, SL and Aromáticas de Ibiza, SL – whose bottle was highly similar to the well-known Malibu bottle – infringed The Absolut Company AB's (TAC's) 3D and graphic trademarks which protect the shape of such bottle. Among other things, the court held that the defendants had taken unfair advantage of TAC's trademarks, as their product was very similar in appearance.
Virtual currencies have been analysed and considered by numerous policymakers at the EU level. According to the European Central Bank, the legal definition of 'virtual currencies' tends to vary depending on the context, while the European Banking Authority defines them as a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or public authority nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but used as a means of exchange and transferred, stored or traded electronically.
The Federated European Patent Register provides information regarding the legal status of EU patents. Among other things, the register provides a direct link to national patent registers, which makes it easier to obtain up-to-date information on the status of patents. Although there is room for further improvement, the register provides quick and easy access to the basic post-grant legal status of EU patents.
A hard Brexit would increase liability risk for EU carriers and freight forwarders, and disputing parties would need to overcome a number of factual and legal hurdles. Before undertaking cross-border transports, carriers are well advised to make clear agreements with senders in order to clarify that customs clearance delays are expected for an unforeseeable duration and request instructions from senders in accordance with the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.
The EU Prospectus Regulation's provisions concerning the format and content requirements for prospectuses will come into force on 1 July 2019. Ahead of the provisions, the European Securities and Markets Association intends to publish final draft guidelines on risk factors in early 2019. Issuers and their advisers will then need to ensure that they comply with the new regime in respect of any prospectuses to be published on or after 21 July 2019.
In October 2018 the EU Trademark Court Number 1 of Alicante granted the interim injunction application filed by Xiaomi Inc against Blablatel Mobile SL for trademark infringement due to the parallel import of technological products from outside the European Economic Area. This decision is notable, as it confirms that importing goods that were originally intended to be marketed outside the European Economic Area without the trademark owner's consent constitutes trademark infringement.
With respect to employers with a multi-jurisdictional presence in the European Union, where a dispute arises between them and an employee concerning the law applicable to cross-border employment contracts, it is first necessary to assess whether the objectively applicable law was deviated from by way of a choice-of-law clause. If so, it is then necessary to determine whether this affects the objectively applicable law's mandatory provisions and whether these are more favourable to the employee than the law chosen.
The EU Regulation on Ship Recycling obliges EU-flagged vessels to conduct dismantling operations in European Commission-approved ship-recycling facilities in accordance with the Ship-Specific Ship-Recycling Plan and the Inventory of Hazardous Materials. The regulation aims to mitigate and eventually eliminate the adverse effects of operating, maintaining and recycling EU-flagged ships on human health and the environment.