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Copyright – TV format

The High Court has recently held that it is possible for a TV format to be the subject of copyright protection as a dramatic work.

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Bankruptcy – no privilege?

There has been an important decision that seems to restrict the ability of a trustee in bankruptcy to use privileged documents belonging to the bankrupt.

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Signature – electronic

Electronic Communications Act 2000 says that electronic signatures are admissible in evidence; however, it does not go as far as saying that they have the equivalent legal effect as ‘wet-ink’ signatures.

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Family buy-out – capital reduction?

Shares in a private company are unlikely to be readily saleable. Indeed, there are often restrictions on sale. The end result is that family members can inherit shares which may have value on paper, but produce very little income if the company does not pay significant and regular dividends.

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Letter of credit – location

The Supreme Court has held that the ‘location’ of a debt due under a letter of credit is the place of residence of the debtor – not where the debt is due to be paid.

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Inventions – employees

Prior to 2005, it was necessary for an employee/inventor to prove that the patent (not just the invention) was of ‘outstanding benefit’ to the employer in order to be able to claim compensation. But, since 2005 employees can claim if the patented invention is of ‘outstanding benefit’ to the employer.

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IP – threats

Businesses and individuals have been given new protection against groundless threats to bring legal action for infringing IP rights (patent, trade mark or design).

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Unquoted shares – valuation

A recent CA decision gives useful guidance on the valuation on unquoted minority shares.

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Trade secrets – employment

These days many small companies prefer to rely upon the law of ‘trade secrets’ rather than go to the expense and complexity of patents and trade marks (unless an item is clearly patentable).  

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EC competition – new joint ventures

The ECJ has held that the creation of a joint venture only requires competition filing and clearance from the EC if it will be a ‘fully functioning’ commercial entity. This is an important change. A JV will only be ‘full function’ if it is a fully functioning market operation (eg it conducts its own commercial policy; it operates independently with its own management running its day-to-day operations; it carries out activities that are more than merely one specific function for the parents of the JV; it is not bound by sales and purchase agreements to its parents).  

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