IP/IT News – December 2023

⭐ [ Best of ] Read the December's top news about intellectual property, technology and data protection.

🇪🇺 EU / Legislation: The European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional agreement to make it easier to compensate people who have suffered damage as a result of defective products, particularly in the context of online shopping and new technologies. The new rules ensure that an EU company is liable for defective products, even if they have been purchased outside the EU. The burden of proof will be simplified, and the court will be able to compel the company to disclose the necessary evidence (European Commission press release, December 14, 2023).

🇫🇷 Competition / Justice : The French Competition Authority has fined Sony and three of its subsidiaries 13.5 million euros for illegally restricting gamers’ access to “third-party controllers”. Sony deployed technical countermeasures to disable non-certified controllers, discouraging the use of cheaper controllers for over four years, thereby harming third-party manufacturers (Press release, December 20, 2023).

🇬🇧 AI / Justice: The UK Supreme Court has rejected the application by US computer scientist Stephen Thaler to obtain patents for inventions generated by his artificial intelligence (AI) system, confirming that the inventor must be a natural person under UK patent law (Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Thaler v/ Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs and TradeMarks, December).

🇫🇷 Trademark Law / Justice : Chanel has won an infringement case against a company selling free samples. The court rejected the exhaustion of rights argument, pointing out that the free distribution of samples does not constitute a first placing on the market. What’s more, they were resold without their original packaging, thus damaging the image of the luxury brand (Cour de cassation, December 6, 2023, 20-18.653).

🇫🇷 Competition / Justice: The French competition authority has fined Rolex 91.6 million euros for prohibiting its distributors from selling watches online for more than ten years. The prohibition clause was deemed prejudicial to consumers and distributors, constituting a vertical agreement restricting competition. In addition to the fine, Rolex is subject to a communication and publication injunction (Press release, December 19, 2023).

🇫🇷 Ransomware / Justice: French authorities have arrested a suspected member of the Hive ransomware gang in Paris, suspecting him of laundering several million euros from ransoms extorted by the gang (Press release of December 14, 2023).

🇫🇷 Streaming / Regulation: The French government has announced the introduction in 2024 of a tax on the sales of music streaming platforms to finance the sector. Apple, Deezer, Meta, Spotify, YouTube and TikTok are arguing for a voluntary contribution rather than a mandatory tax, while Spotify’s head in France is threatening to disinvest in France in favor of other markets (Press release December 14, 2023).

🇺🇸 Amazon / Fraud: Amazon has filed a complaint against the REKK organisation, which allegedly set up a scheme to obtain false refunds by manipulating Amazon’s returns system. The crooks allegedly bribed Amazon employees, launched phishing attacks and used various tricks to deceive the platform. The financial damage to Amazon amounts to several million dollars (Press release December 8, 2023).

🇺🇸 Personal Data / Geolocation: Google Maps will change the way it handles position history, allowing users to store this data locally on their smartphone rather than on their Google account. Data will be automatically set for automatic deletion for the last three months, with the option to customize the duration or disable automatic deletion (Press release Google, December 12, 2023).

🇪🇺 EU / Legislation: Negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU Council have reached provisional agreement on a directive to improve working conditions for people employed via digital platforms. The directive aims to ensure correct classification of employment status by establishing a presumption of an employment relationship and introduce rules on algorithmic management and the use of artificial intelligence at work (EU Council press release, December 13, 2023).

🇨🇭 X / Copyright : On December 6, SUISA Digital, the Swiss music collecting society, filed a complaint against X’s parent company, accusing the latter of copyright infringement by allowing music to be shared without a license (SUISA Digital press release, December 6, 2023).

🇺🇸 Competition / Justice: Epic Games wins a major victory against Google after judges ruled that Google was abusing its monopoly on the mobile app market, notably on Android app distribution and in-app payment services, thereby harming developers. Google plans to contest the verdict (Press release, December 11, 2023).

🇪🇺 EU / AI: The EU adopted a new law to regulate artificial intelligence this Friday, December 8, imposing new obligations and restrictions for trustworthy AI such as bans on untargeted facial image retrieval and emotion recognition at work. In addition, high-risk AI systems will require specific obligations, including a fundamental rights impact assessment (Press release, December 9, 2023).

🇯🇵 Copyright / Regulation: A user of Japanese publisher Shueisha’s YanJan! application has been banned for taking “fraudulent screenshots”. YanJan! prohibits screenshots, video recordings and screen mirroring when viewing works. Although the user pleaded accidental capture, the app claims to have issued previous warnings for the same infraction (Press release, December 7, 2023).

🇪🇺 Personal data / Justice: The CJEU confirms in a ruling of December 14, 2023, that the fear of misuse of personal data following a breach of the GDPR, can constitute “moral damage”. This decision follows a cyberattack in Bulgaria in 2019, where personal data was published online, leading to legal action by individuals seeking compensation for non-material damage caused by the fear of misuse of their data (Court of Justice of the European Union, December 14, 2023, C-340/27).

🌎 Streaming / Justice: An illegal IPTV service broadcasting 72 Korean channels has been dismantled thanks to collaboration between Indonesia, Korea and INTERPOL. Operating for nine years, the network generated losses estimated at 1.23 million dollars. This operation was carried out as part of the INTERPOL Stop Online Piracy (I-SOP) project (Press release Dec 21, 2023).

🇪🇺 DSA / Regulation: The EU has designated Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos as “very large platforms”. They are therefore subject to strict DSA obligations. The platforms must limit the distribution of illegal content, protect minors and implement age verification tools, risking fines of up to 6% of their worldwide sales in the event of non-compliance. They have 4 months to contest (European Commission press release, December 20, 2023).

🇪🇺 DSA / Disinformation: The EU officially launches an investigation into X (ex-Twitter) as part of the DSA. Elon Musk’s platform is suspected of failing to comply with transparency and anti-disinformation obligations, but also of having implemented a “misleading” user interface (European Commission press release, December 18, 2023).

🇪🇺 Piracy / Report: Europol’s report highlights the growing threat of online fraud within the EU, with various schemes such as relay attacks (shimming) and charity scams on the rise, and supports via its European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the investigation of cybercrime in the EU and the fight against serious international crime (Report December 20, 2023).

🇺🇸 ChatGPT / Justice: The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft for using numerous articles without their permission to develop their AI technologies (NYT, Complaint Dec 2023).

🇪🇺 Cookies / Regulation: The European Department of Consumer Protection has presented its commitments to a project on digital advertising, proposing a less intrusive alternative to cookie banners. The project, backed by the European Commission, aims to eliminate the “pay or consent” options often deemed unfair. The aim is to respect users’ rights and preserve their privacy, while maintaining advertising revenues for publishers (Press release, December 14, 2023).

🇪🇺 EU / Legislation: EU member states agree on a regulation to strengthen Europe’s cyber solidarity in the face of threats and cyber attacks (Press release, December 20, 2023). 

🇪🇺 Personal data / Cyber attack: The EasyPark parking application fell victim to a cyber attack on December 10, 2023, compromising the personal data of thousands of European motorists. The company reacted quickly to block the hackers’ access and is actively informing affected customers (EasyPark press release, December 10, 2023).

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