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Exclusion clauses – contra proferentem

Generally, if there is an ambiguity in an exclusion clause, then that ambiguity will be construed against the person who is trying to rely on the exclusion clause (the contra proferentem principle).

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Trade mark – local goodwill

You cannot register a trade mark in the UK if its use is likely to be prevented by a protected unregistered mark (eg via passing off). But, what happens if there is merely local goodwill in that unregistered mark?

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Competition – luxury goods

To what extent can a supplier of luxury goods limit the extent to which those goods are sold on unauthorised sites? For instance, can Coty insist that its authorised re-sellers only sell its goods through those re-sellers’ own online sites (and not on the likes of ebay and Amazon)?

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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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