Living Wage

The Chancellor’s (unexpected) announcement of a new national living wage has been described by Morgan Stanley as “the most significant structural change affecting the retail sector since the advent of the Internet”. Whilst some retailers have sought to play down its potential impact, suggesting that the cost of the new national living wage is “manageable”, this assumes both that the Government ensures that its living wage rate takes account of wider wage inflation and that retailers are able to make meaningful and sustainable productivity gains. With only months to go before the national living wage takes effect, it is vital that retailers look at ways to absorb the cost and maximise the benefit of the additional investment the living wage will necessarily entail. The question is how? Share your views here.

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme: Impact on Retailers

The Registration Scheme is aimed at preventing alcohol duty fraud. From 1 January 2016, all existing alcohol wholesalers will be required to apply for registration. New wholesalers will need to apply 45 days before they intend to start trading.

The key date for alcohol retailers will be 1 April 2017. From that date, it will be an offence to buy alcohol if you know or have reasonable grounds to suspect that your UK wholesaler is not approved. Penalties for breach will be an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment (up to seven years on indictment or 12 months on summary conviction).

Retailers should ensure all key suppliers are aware of the requirement to register in advance and that appropriate checks of the online register are made in due course. You may also wish to review your supply terms to oblige suppliers to register and notify you immediately if registration is refused or if they cease to be registered. You may also want to introduce penalties for non-compliance.  More details of the register will be available when the draft legislation is published.

Exploiting Social Media Trends, Like Hashtags, is Crucial for Modern Brands. But Can They Be Legally Protected?

A brand’s existing trade mark registrations will usually protect against misuse of its intellectual property in hashtags by third parties (without need to register the mark with the “#” element) e.g. Coke can prevent use of #cocacola. However, such registrations are unlikely to cover hashtags which don’t centre on existing trade marks and are not in themselves distinctive or indicative of origin. A typical example would be use of a slogan in a hashtag.

The challenge is to develop strategies which harness both the power of social media and the protection offered by the law, and balance this against commercial factors such as the time and cost of seeking individual registered protection for words which might only be used in the short term.

For the full article please click here

ECJ Invalidates Commission Approval of Safe Harbor Program

In a much anticipated decision, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the European Commission’s approval of the US-EU Safe Harbor self-certification program is invalid. Safe Harbor establishes a framework for legitimizing the transfer of EU personal data – including the personal data of EU employees, customers and website visitors – to the United States. More than 4,000 US companies have signed up to the Safe Harbor program and this ruling could throw into disarray arrangements that many retailers have for sharing data across the Atlantic.

The decision makes clear that national data protection authorities  in Europe have the power to ensure that personal data is protected in accordance with the Data Protection Directive and the EU Charter of Human Rights. Since 2013, the US and the EU have been in negotiations over modifications to the Safe Harbor program to tighten it up. The impact of the Court’s decision on the timing and potential for concluding these negotiations remains unclear. For the full article, please see our article and our blog posting on the impact for employee data.