Before The DST Settles: United Kingdom Pushes Ahead With Digital Services Tax

On Thursday 11 July 2019, the UK government confirmed that it will bring forward legislation for a new Digital Services Tax (DST) to take effect from April 2020.

Squire Patton Boggs’ Tax team have prepared an alert, analysing the proposed legislation and assessing its possible impact and wider implications, which can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact Jeremy Cape or Jeff VanderWolk.

Harmful Gender Stereotypes Banned in UK Advertising: An Update

As we reported earlier this year, following a six-month adjustment period, a new rule dealing with the depiction of harmful gender stereotypes, has been introduced into the CAP and BCAP Codes, which came into force on 14 June 2019. Despite being just a month in, the ASA has already received complaints about adverts which appear to be in breach.

The new rule applies to broadcast and non-broadcast media advertisements (including online and social media ads) and states that adverts or marketing communications “must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious widespread offence”. It was introduced following a public consultation and review of gender stereotypes in advertising by the ASA, which found that the reinforcement of harmful stereotypes can negatively affect individuals, by restricting their aspirations and opportunities for progression in either their personal or professional lives. This in turn, plays a part in the unequal gender outcomes experienced in society. Continue Reading

“It’s Unbelievable Jeff” – The ASA Overturn Sky Bet’s ‘Request a Bet’ Ad Ruling

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently announced that it has overturned its original ruling published on 13 March 2019 relating to a Sky Bet TV ad promoting their ‘Request a Bet’ service.

As reported by Carlton Daniel in this blog and in Law360, the ASA had previously found that the advertisement contravened the advertiser’s duty to be socially responsible (outlined in Section 16 of the CAP Code and Section 17 of the BCAP Code), when Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling told viewers to “spark your sports brain” and asked, “how big is your sports noggin?” The ad only received two complaints but the regulator considered that the ad inflated the extent of a gambler’s control over the outcome of a wager and erroneously implied that if one generally has good knowledge of sports, they are likely to be a successful gambler. Both elements in turn could potentially generate irresponsible gambling practices. Continue Reading

But life isn’t fair….

Anyone who negotiates contracts for a living has their own personal war stories of dealing with other parties whose significant negotiating leverage meant they ended up accepting terms which in an ideal world they wouldn’t. But could having the upper hand and using that to extract the best possible deal come back to haunt you? A recent Court of Appeal decision suggests not.

The basic facts of Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation [2019] EWVA Civ 828 are straightforward: Times Travel was a ticketing agency whose business was almost entirely based on sales of tickets for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA); PIA got into a dispute with Times Travel (and other ticketing agencies) over unpaid commission and during that dispute terminated its contact with Times Travel in accordance with its terms, offering a new contract in its place on less favourable terms and in particular, a requirement that Times Travel waive its claim for unpaid historic commission.

Times Travel took the new contract but subsequently sought to argue that it was still entitled to the unpaid commission because the new contract had been entered into by it under duress.

Continue Reading

You could be a celebrity without knowing it if you have 30,000 followers on social media

In a landmark decision, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK recently ruled that, for the purposes of the CAP Code at least, a social media user may be considered a celebrity where they have 30,000 followers or more.

In this case, the ASA found that an influencer breached the CAP Code when she published an Instagram post promoting an over-the-counter sleeping tablet produced by Sanofi. The caption for the post was marked ‘AD’ and included the statement:

… I tried out Phenergan Night Time… It is a pharmacy only, short term solution to insomnia for adults which works by inducing a sleepy effect thanks to its active ingredient, promethazine hydrochloride, helping you to sleep through the night. … #AD #sleep”.

Although health professionals and celebrities can advertise or endorse cosmetic products, CAP Code Rule 12.18 states that “Marketers must not use health professionals or celebrities to endorse medicines.” Continue Reading

Overcoming Rejections Based on Your Own References

 

While prosecuting a patent application before the USPTO, you receive a novelty or obviousness rejection in which the cited prior art seems very familiar… because it is your own reference. Is this proper? Can a US patent examiner use your own disclosures against you? Like many legal questions, the answer is “it depends.”

When making a prior art rejection in the US, a patent examiner distinguishes between prior art that is available under 35 U.S.C. § 102 (a)(1) and 35 U.S.C. § 102 (a)(2). Section 102 (a) provides as follows: Continue Reading

2019 has so far Shown a Continued State of Flux for 35 U.S.C. §101

Since the decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014), one of the most hotly discussed topics in the US patent field has been patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 (“§ 101”).  Certainly, countless hours have been spent debating, discussing, and arguing proper application and interpretation of § 101.  This is the result of significant uncertainty felt throughout the field with respect to application of § 101 at the USPTO and by the courts.  As 2019 has shown thus far, § 101 continues to be in a state of flux despite efforts by the USPTO and the courts to provide predictability and clarity to subject matter eligibility determinations, and thus uncertainty is likely to continue.   Continue Reading

Leading the way…

Squire Patton Boggs is thrilled that our outstanding IP team continues to be recognised for its expertise. Partner Ron Lemieux has recently been listed in the IAM Patent 1000 as one of the world’s leading patent professionals.

Ron is based in our Palo Alto office and we are so pleased that his work and dedication to the practice has been recognised. Congratulations Ron!

Hungry for change: ASA and Government target junk food ads

With childhood obesity rates in the UK among some of the worst in Europe, the Government has set a national target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Whilst the Government acknowledges that this is a multi-faceted problem, it has reported that evidence suggests that children’s exposure to advertising of products that are high in fat, salt and/or sugar (“HFSS”) contributes to their consumption patterns.

HFSS product advertising is currently subject to content and placement restrictions under the Committees of Advertising Practice (“CAP”) broadcast and non-broadcast codes of advertising (“Codes”); however, campaigners and industry bodies have raised concerns that adverts are not being targeted correctly and that the existing rules do not go far enough. The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) and the Government have taken steps in recent months to address these issues, with the ASA launching a monitoring exercise on targeted ads and the Government consulting on options to reduce children’s exposure to HFSS ads. Continue Reading

Risqué Business: US Supreme Court Opens Trademark Registry to “Immoral or Scandalous” Trademarks

On June 24, 2019, the US Supreme Court invalidated the Lanham Act’s ban on registering “immoral or scandalous” trademarks. In Iancu v. Brunetti, the Court held that that the ban, in Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, violated the First Amendment because it required the Government to discriminate against certain viewpoints: marks considered to have “immoral or scandalous” content.  This decision was not unexpected, as it was presaged by the Court’s 2017 decision in Matal v. Tam, which invalidated the Lanham Act’s ban on registering trademarks that “disparage” persons. Continue Reading

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