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Posted by on in Litigation Funding

Apple have been fine circa £350 million for three patents relating to iTunes - the media player, library and mobile device management application.

Subject to an appeal, which is likely, the iTunes creators will now have to pay $530 million (£342 million) to Smartflash after a Texas jury concluded that Apple copied Smartflash’s patent (at least in part) and should pay for damages for such wrongdoing.

The UK Government has this week, laid before Parliament, proposals, which if approved, will ensure insolvent businesses continue to be supplied services deemed to be "essential" – such as IT, telecoms and other utilities services, while insolvency practitioners seeks a solution.

The suppliers of such 'essential' services will not be able to simply cut off supply, nor charge premium rates to, any businesses undergoing rescue.

Following a Downing Street summit on UK payment practices, the Government has recently revealed new proposals, which are aimed at helping businesses across the country tackle the issue of unfair payment terms and other unfair payment practices

New research by the Close Brothers Business Barometer - a quarterly survey of small to medium sized business owners and senior management throughout the UK - has found that a third of respondents have never changed their finance provider.

The most cited reason for the failure to be more active with finances was lack or time to review their financial strategy. Second, was SME's being unsure of their options, and third most cited was fear that their current provider would penalise for moving elsewhere.

The civil litigation reforms, and the potential damage they could do to businesses once they are implemented, has put the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in direct conflict with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) has placed limits on contingency fee agreements during insolvency proceedings, which trade body for Insolvency Professionals R3 have long argued will be costly to creditors by prohibiting litigants from reclaiming certain legal costs from defendants.

A new EU insolvency regime, hoped to "rescue and recover" viable businesses facing cross-border financial difficulties, has been backed by justice ministers throughout the EU. The Regulation must be formally adopted by, both the European Council and Parliament, before coming into force.

The new Insolvency Regulation is expected to come into force in 2017, and would replace the current regime - which has been in place since May 2002 - with a modern and "rescue orientated" approach. The new rules also aim to reinforce the single market while recovering from the financial crisis.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) Patent Opinions Service has been in place since 2005 to offer opinions on the validity of patents, and whether any patent infringes UK and EP(UK) patents. Opinions cost £200 and are non-binding in nature, but can assist in dispute resolution prior to litigation. But where litigation is unavoidable, opinions from the Patent Opinions Service can still be useful in helping parties in their case.

However, as of 1 October 2014, the UKIPO has had the power to revoke a patent of its own initiative, if the Patent Opinions Service finds it is not new and/or inventive, where previously it would be up to a third party to begin revocation proceedings, which can be costly and time consuming.

According to research by insolvency trade body R3, the number of informal corporate insolvency procedures in the UK has jumped from 139,594 in 2010-2011, to 178,996 in 2013-2014, a 28 per cent rise.

Being informally "struck off" is used by companies who have ceased doing business and have settled any debts, and have become dormant or are no longer trading.

In Cartier International and Others v BSkyB and others, the High Court in England, has held that trademark holders can be granted injunctions against Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block or impede certain websites selling counterfeit goods.

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The so-called "zombie business" - a term used to describe businesses only just surviving despite being in a financially difficult situation - is on the rise according to a survey of 500 UK businesses conducted by insolvency trade body R3.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently handed down its full opinion in Case C-201/13 Deckmyn, and in doing so has not only defined what constitutes a parody, but has also given copyright owners the right to demand their material be disassociated with a work of parody in certain circumstances.

Despite a warning from the Insolvency Service showing insolvencies are on the rise for the first time since 2010 - a 5.1 per cent increase from the previous year - the Bank of England Governor has announced that he is preparing to increase interest rates.  

"Neither Party shall be liable to the other under this Sub-Contract for loss of profits, revenue, business, goodwill, indirect or consequential loss or damage."

Above is the clear and unambiguous liability exclusion clause, found in a ten-year sub-contract between IBM and Fujitsu, whereby Fujitsu agreed to provide management, support and IT infrastructure maintenance as and when needed, to fulfill the IT and business process change service needs of the DVLA - who held the main commercial contract with IBM.

On 1st October a new Intellectual Property Act, that seeks to strengthen intellectual property protection for businesses across the United Kingdom, comes into force.

The Intellectual Property Act 2014 was deemed necessary and subsequently drafted following the 2011 Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, which found the UK’s intellectual property (IP) laws currently in place to be inadequate and inaccessible to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).

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