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Key legal topics in data centre development and investments
The recent years' sprint towards digitalisation was one of the decisive factors in accelerating the transformation of telecommunications infrastructure. The global markets expect an increase in investments in telecom infrastructure and Romania is no exception.
Trademarks: The classification of "virtual goods" in trademark applications
Trademark professionals have noted growing interest in protecting trademarks for "virtual goods". This leaves trademark specialists as well as IP offices grappling with how to correctly classify these goods.
EU: Advertorials may increasingly become the target of unfair competition claims
In a preliminary ruling following a request by the German Federal Court of Justice (case C-371/20), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) interpreted Point 11 of Annex I to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (Directive 2005/29/EC; UCP-Directive).
Trademarks: How conceptual differences can save your trademark applications
You want to apply for a trademark that is visually or phonetically similar to another trademark, perhaps it even is contained as a whole. Is this possible without infringing on someone else's trademark rights?
13 July 2021
Trademarks: The aftermath of BREXIT – Are your trademarks and designs protected in the UK?
The transitional period for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom ("UK") from the EU ("BREXIT") ended on 31 December 2020. All European Union trademarks and Community designs registered at that time were automatically cloned as national IP rights in the UK.
OGH - Aufgriffsrechte in der Insolvenz sind zulässig
Hintergrund: In der Praxis vereinbaren Gesellschafter einer Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH) im Gesellschaftsvertrag häufig sog. Aufgriffsrechte, das sind im Wesentlichen wechselseitige Erwerbsrechte, die bei Eintritt von definierten Ereignissen (sog. "Aufgriffsfälle") zum Erwerb des Geschäftsanteils des vom relevanten Ereignis betroffenen Gesellschafters berechtigen. Ein Aufgriffsfall ist zB der Tod eines Gesellschafters, der eine natürliche Person ist.
Disclosure obligations and liability of UUC platforms in focus
It was in the very first Technology newsletter in fall 2019 that I reported about referrals to the CJEU concerning disclosure obligations and liability of user uploaded content (UUC) platform providers in relation to illegal (copyright infringing) uploads.
WIPO PROOF: Launch of new online service to create trusted tamper-proof evidence through timestamps
Companies spend a lot of time and money creating, innovating and protecting their intellectual property. When the protection fails due to unavailable or insufficient evidence, the frustration is understandably high.
Czech Republic: Crowdfunding can help businesses overcome COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all businesses worldwide and could end in collapse for many of them. One way businesses (especially SMEs) can get through this period and stand on their own two feet again is crowdfunding.
One step towards virtual dispute resolution: hearings via videoconference
Court hearings via videoconference were unimaginable in Austrian courts pre-COVID-19. Witnesses could testify via videoconference in Austrian court proceedings only under certain circumstances, but they still had to attend court – just not the court in which the proceedings were pending.
Das COVID-19-GesG – aktuelles zu Virtuellen Versammlungen im Gesellschaftsrecht und zu elektronischen Notariatsakten
Der Nationalrat hat unter anderem im Zuge der COVID-19-Gesetzgebung mehrere gesellschaftsrechtliche Maßnahmen im Rahmen eines sog. gesellschaftsrechtlichen COVID-19-Gesetzes (COVID-19-GesG) beschlossen.
We help Start-Ups!
In an attempt to help start-ups during the current corona situation obtaining the much needed financial liquidity support from their shareholders or other investors, we put together a short and simple forward equity agreement, the "Simple Equity Investment Contract (SEIC)".
Court hearing via social network – has Europe missed its chance?
Digitalisation is on everyone's lips. Parts of the judiciary – at least in some European countries – are hesitant. Austria introduced an electronic legal communication system for most Austrian courts decades ago.
The Police, Drones, and the Corona Pandemic – Reflections on Austria
The Corona pandemic is putting our world to an unexpected stress test. But despite all difficulties, in only a couple of weeks, people dramatically changed the way they work, shop, seek health care, and interact with each other.
26 February 2020
More and more companies are using digital signatures to sign their contracts electronically. But is this permissible and are the contracts valid?
Freedom of contract (Vertragsfreiheit) is an underlying principle of Austrian contract law. A contract is defined as consenting declarations of an offer and an acceptance and, in general, neither offer nor acceptance requires a specific form under Austrian law. Moreover, oral agreements are legally binding and enforceable. Contracting parties are therefore free to choose any suitable form for a contract according to Section 883 of the Austrian civil law (Allgemein Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, "ABGB"), including tools to sign contracts electronically. This possibility to choose is called freedom of form (Formfreiheit), which is part of the mentioned freedom of contract ("Vertragsfreiheit").
The flying Fiaker: A case study
The Fiaker, a Viennese term for a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire (a "hackney coach"), has been trundling through the streets of Vienna for centuries. The first Fiaker was licensed in 1693. Back then, it was the first means of urban transportation to carry several passengers at once. Today, it is a tourist attraction and traffic obstruction. Nonetheless, the Fiaker survived and adapted. Just recently, the first electronic Fiaker hit the road in Vienna.1
25 February 2020
Czech data protection authority: Can the employer enter into its employee's e-mailbox?
In January 2020, the Czech data protection authority (ÚOOÚ) published on its website an anonymised inspection protocol, which contains valuable information on how the authority assess checking and reading employee emails after the GDPR came into effect.
In the case in question, the authority received a complaint which reads that "… after an employee leaves, his e-mailbox, which contains both working and private data, is handed over to such employee’s supervisor, who has a full access to the e-mailbox, administers it and uses it…". The authority initiated an investigation in which it expressed (and protocoled) its opinions on accessing employee mailboxes.
25 February 2020
Romanian fintech start-ups combine powers and create the first Romanian fintech association
For the last couple of years, the fintech industry has become of great interest in the Romanian entrepreneurial scene. Numerous Romanian start-ups or long-existing financial and IT companies have switched focus on what fintech means and on what it can bring to the table.
Telemedicine on the rise in Austria?
Seven out of the 328 pages of the new green/conservative government's programme are dedicated to the health sector. One bullet point on this programme for the next five years is to implement telemedicine treatment in the best possible way. The government further explains that it aims to promote digitalisation in diagnosis, treatment and medical research and thus strengthen Austria as a health hub.
Dashcams: Panta rhei in the data protection world?
At present it seems nothing about the GDPR is fixed or settled. This was recently illustrated by an update to the Austrian Data Protection Authority's (DPA) online information on dashcams. While dashcams are rumoured to be inadmissible in Austria, the DPA's update may revive this discussion.
European Commission's Expert Group publishes report on Regulatory Obstacles to Financial Innovation
Just in time for Christmas, the European Commission's Expert Group published its eagerly awaited final report on regulatory obstacles to financial innovation on 13 December 2019 (the "Report").
02 December 2019
New Rules for Digital Content & Sale of Goods
The Sale of Goods Directive will apply to sales contracts between a consumer and a seller for goods, including goods with a digital element (e.g. smart TVs, smart fridges or smart watches) regardless whether concluded physically in shops or online.
Update on Artificial Intelligence and Competition Law
On 6 November 2019, the German Cartel Office and the French Competition Authority published a joint report on the competition risks resulting from the use of algorithms (the "Report"). The Report tackles four main issues:
Facebook's Libra: The new generation of cryptocurrencies?
"When I think about all the different ways that people interact privately, I think payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier," Zuckerberg said on 30 April 2019 at Facebook's F8 annual software developer conference in San Jose, California.
Increased activity of the Polish Data Protection Authority
As of November 2019, the Polish Data Protection Authority (Urząd Ochrony Danych Osobowych; "UODO") has fined three Polish companies and one local government institution for non-compliance with the GDPR.
Digital foundation of an Austrian limited liability company
The Electronic Notarial Form Foundation Act (Elektronische Notariatsform-Gründungsgesetz) ("ENG") came into force on 1 January 2019 and enables going forward the digital foundation of an Austrian limited liability company ("GmbH") by way of an electronic notarial deed. The Austrian notaries were entrusted with the implementation of the digital foundation procedure. Since autumn 2019, the first notaries in Austria have been offering the digital foundation process of a GmbH. Schoenherr attorneys at law, was the first person in Austria to accompany a digital foundation process.
Before we describe the digital foundation in practice, we briefly describe the notarial process of founding a GmbH in general: (i) execution of the deed of incorporation / articles of association as Austrian notarial deed (Notariatsakt), which essentially requires that the notary reads out the agreement and the parties sign the agreement in front of the notary, (ii) appointment of the first managing director(s) by way of a shareholders' resolution (by way of a notarial protocol, circular resolution with certified signatures or – as this is done in practice – as part of the notarial deed described under (i)), (iii) execution of the specimen signatures of the managing director(s) with their signatures being certified by a notary public (this could also be done by a foreign notary or an Austrian embassy/consulate) and (iv) execution of the commercial register filing again with signatures being certified by a notary public or Austrian embassy/consulate.
The ENG now attempts to fully digitalize such process. The process in practice can be described as follows:
FinTech 2019 in Austria
Financial technologies, or FinTechs, are rapidly changing the finance/banking sectors, and sometimes even shift whole markets online, and make it possible to deal, invest or lend money without ever needing to deal with a traditional bank.
Serbia catches up with the GDPR
1. New Data Protection Law adopted and applicable
After a public hearing that lasted more than a year, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the new Data Protection Law (the "Law") on 9 November 2018. The Law is applicable as of 21 August 2019. The provisions of the Law itself have been modelled on, and largely comply with the provisions of the GDPR, as part of the wider process of harmonising the national law of Serbia with EU law, which was one of the main reasons for the adoption of the new Law. Besides many novelties, the new Law elaborates on certain procedures, rights, obligations and competences.
Some of the most important novelties follow.
EU-Finanz-Anpassungsgesetz 2019 │ New Challenges ahead for the virtual currency business
On 11 July 2019 the Austrian parliament adopted the EU-Finanz-Anpassungsgesetz 2019 ("EU-FinAnpG 2019") which implements the 5th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive ("5th AML Directive") into Austrian law and introduces a number of amendments to Austrian laws relevant to the financial market.
In order to implement the 5th AML Directive, amendments to the Austrian Financial Markets–Money Laundering Act ("FM-GwG"), the Beneficial Owner Register Act (WiEReG) and the Act on Gaming (Glückspielgesetz), are necessary. These amendments include changes which will have a significant impact on business with virtual currencies.
Schrems II.: the doom of Privacy Shield and Standard Contractual Clauses?
Read the Czech version below.
There are two fundamental legal mechanisms stipulated in the EU law for the transfer of personal data outside European Economic Area (EEA): Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and Privacy Shield. Both of them are widely used in practice because they allow corporations within the EEA to legitimise the transfer of personal data beyond the borders of EEA. However, each of them behaves differently. SCCs are essentially contracts between (at least) two parties and a Privacy Shield on the other hand is an agreement between the United States Department of Commerce and the European Union, which regulates the transatlantic data transfers.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is prepared to hear a case challenging the validity of both of the above-mentioned transfer instruments. The case stems from a dispute between Max Schrems and Facebook dating back to 2013. Max Schrems is an Austrian lawyer and determined advocate for data protection. His focuses on the flow of (EU) personal data from US corporations to U.S. intelligence agencies. In 2017, Schrems set up a non-profit organisation NYOB1 with the aim to help citizens defend themselves against allegedly “omnipresent” technological corporations.
A glimpse into the future of AI regulation
On 8 April 2019, the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence – a supportive body to the European Commission – launched their "Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI". Based on four questions, the following text deals with the context and content of this guideline, deducing the possible next steps for AI practitioners towards the achievement of Trustworthy AI.
Taxi drone EHang 216 takes off in Austria
As reported by ORF and CNBC, the taxi drone EHang 216 conducted its first demonstration flight in Vienna on 4 April 2019. EHang 216 is an autonomous aerial vehicle that can seat two passengers, reach a speed of up to 160 km/h and has a range of around 70 to 80 kilometres. The vehicle is electrically operated, and efforts are being taken to ensure it is barely audible at a distance of 15 to 20 metres. Thus, the taxi drone sets a remarkable benchmark in terms of air pollution control and aircraft noise.
The 5G network – From technical requirements to legal challenges
1. The 5G network for Europe
In September 2016, the European Commission invited1 the Member States to develop national 5G strategies as part of their broadband plans. The Austrian Federal Government has set itself the goal of implementing the 5G strategy in three ambitious phases:
Phase 1: By mid-2018, preliminary commercial 5G tests were to be implemented.
Phase 2: By the end of 2020, the Federal Government set its interim goal of achieving almost nationwide availability of ultrafast broadband connections.
Phase 3: By the end of 2023, 5G services will be available on the main traffic connections, and by the end of 2025, the goal of almost nationwide availability of 5G will be achieved.
At the beginning of March 2019, the competent supervisory authority (RTR) conducted the procurement procedure for the 5G "pioneer band" auction. The three major Austrian mobile operators (A1, T-Mobile and Drei) acquired licences for the frequencies in all 12 regions put to tender. Based on these frequencies, one of the companies has already commissioned the first 5G mobile stations in some selected Austrian regions.
Austrian public enterprises join forces to accelerate 5G expansion
On 26 March 2019, the Austrian mobile operator T-Mobile commissioned the first 25 5G mobile stations in 17 selected Austrian municipalities, predominantly in rural areas. According to the Chancellor of Austria, the start of 5G marks a milestone in the country's economic competitiveness and technological progress.
However, further steps need to be taken to achieve almost nationwide availability of 5G by the end of 2023 as laid down in the Federal Government's 5G strategy paper.
Austrian DPA case law since 25 May 2018 (excerpt)
Austria paves the legal way for (partly) autonomous vehicles
Imagine your car would drive you instead of you driving your car. This marvel has become partly a reality, as a law entered into force on 11 March 2019 allowing autonomous driving on Austrian highways. In addition, an amendment to the regulation for autonomous driving (Automatisiertes Fahren Verordnung – AutomatFahrV) by the Ministry of Traffic, Innovation and Technology broadly permits autonomous parking of vehicles.
Combining Blockchain and AI to make Smart Contracts Smarter
Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the new giants in technology and two of the hottest topics at the moment. The two technologies are typically considered for separate applications but there is a link: data.
AI allows processing of big data, whereas Blockchain offers security, immutability and decentralised data storage. It makes sense to combine the two technologies to make "Smart Contracts smarter" and to potentially also be a driver of the fourth industrial revolution: Data owners might be able to control their data again by choosing which AI provider to share their data with. Data marketplaces might also be possible, boosting AI applications when combined with Blockchain technology.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain1 or Distributed Ledger Technology has become a trending topic especially in the light of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, ICOs and other areas in the context of digitisation, which are based on this technology. This technology and the (alleged) possibility to digitalise any kind of assets or create bullet-proof sets of data has the potential to revolutionise certain industries. It is therefore essential to understand blockchain technology in order not to fall behind. The following is a brief introduction to the technology, its variants, advantages and possible applications.