BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
BridgehouseLaw LLP - Your Business Law Firm

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kroger v. Lidl

Earlier this year, Lidl, a German grocery retailer opened its first US-based stores. Lidl employed the use of a newly filed trademark "PREFERRED SELECTION" which they introduced to brand their own company's products. In early July, Kroger, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and one of the world's largest grocery retailers, filed a lawsuit against Lidl requesting an injunction to stop the use of the filed trademark "PREFERRED SELECTION" due to similarity to Kroger's registered trademark and brand "PRIVATE SELECTION."

Kroger alleges that the similarity between the two companies' brands creates enough confusion to the consumer to rise to the standard of trademark infringement. To succeed in this case Kroger must show that; (1) it has a superior right to use its "PRIVATE SELECTION" mark, and (2) that consumer confusion is likely; analyzed through a 9 factor test. The court will look to the following 9 factors (with no specific interest to any one of the factors), (1) strength of distinctiveness of the mark, (2) similarity of the two marks, (3) similarity of the goods and services that the marks identify, (4) similarity of the facilities that the two parties use in their businesses, (5) similarity of the advertising the two parties use, (6) infringer's intent, (7) actual confusion, (8) quality of the defendant's product, (9) sophistication of the consuming public.

When contemplating or beginning to market your products in the United States, it is important to understand your competitors and their legal (trademark) protections which may restrict your efforts. Before entering an unknown market remember to fully analyze the market and potential competitors to prevent any legal confrontations which may disrupt your initial rollout.

Bridgehouse Law is a full service law firm which works with clients when entering a new market. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your situation and better plan for your future success.

Global Jurisdiction for Injunctions in Canada

After a decision on Wednesday June 28th, courts in Canada may now have the authority to issue temporary injunctions with a global reach. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google in a 7-2 decision, requiring the search engine to remove search results involving a misused trademark from all variations of the search engine, not simply the Canadian Google results. (1) Previously, censoring results has been completed using only a specific country's variation of a webpage, such as a ".de" version of Google. However now, based on this highly controversial ruling Canada may have the power to enforce censorship across every country specific variation of Google.

Supporters of the ruling place emphasis on the newfound ability to protect content creators worldwide, reaching beyond the country-specific web addresses and allowing creators to crack down on improper usage of their materials. (2)

Opposition to the ruling quickly arose due to the censorship and freedom of speech implications of controlling content across national borders. Some individuals fear that because of this Canadian ruling, in the future they may be subject to the laws of other countries simply through their own use of the internet. Examples of censorship laws that could have a dramatic impact if imposed globally include, the anti-hate laws in Germany that force social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to delete content flagged by users as hate speech, or blasphemy laws in Thailand. (3)

This controversial decision for the Canadian courts coincides with "right to be forgotten" regulations in Europe, in which the European Union may force internet search engines to delete search results upon request. (4) Although "right to be forgotten" regulations are not scheduled for enforcement until 2018, both the direction of European legislation and the new ruling in Canada indicate future issues in global jurisdiction and internet censorship. (5)


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bitcoin: The Underlying Blockchain Technology

Bitcoin, which utilizes the underlying technology of all convertible virtual currencies (CVCs), was created by an anonymous user who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. CVCs serve as a digital medium of exchange for goods and services. In his Nakamoto's white paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, Nakamoto believed that the current financial systems were inefficient by requiring a third party 'clearing house' (1) to alleviate the risk of fraud through double spending. Nakamoto proposed Bitcoin as a solution tothe current use of financial institutions when dealing with internet commerce. 

Implementing "a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution."(2) Nakamoto believed that the trust- based system, which we have learned to blindly follow, allowed for any dispute to be mediated by the financial institution, creating an inherent weakness in the way we transfer currency. Nakamoto therefore proposed "a solution to the double-spending problem [by] using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server to generate computational proof of the chronological order of transactions."(3)

Compared to a fiat currency (4), CVCs serve a similar use. The Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has described CVCs as "a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency."(5) In particular, in most environments CVCs do not have a legal tender status, which is one of the reasons why CVCs lack widespread use. Further, this has created difficulty when attempting to utilize CVCs to pay for goods and services. But the main difference between currency and CVCs is the IRS' guidance on the taxation of CVCs.

If you or your company are interested in further exploring your ability to utilize CVCs and the legal aspects connected to it, please feel free to reach out to Bridgehouse Law to schedule a call to better assess your situation.

1 Clearing house - such as a bank or intermediary, a clearing house acts as a middle man to confirm that the transaction takes place and the transaction is not a subject of fraud.
3 Id.
4 A government backed currency such as the US dollar or Chinese yen
5 Fin-2013-G001

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The German Green Party Moves Against Online Shopping on Sundays

Since the dawn of the Internet, online shopping has expanded the boundaries of retail beyond the store's physical location. Just recently Amazon bought the grocery store chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion. 

Over the years, online shopping has proven to have its advantages and disadvantages. Shoppers are able to accessalmost an unlimited number of choices when it comes to products and prices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Storesare able to expand beyond their local setting without the burdensome necessity of constructing other physical locations. It has given rise to corporate icons such as Amazon, eBay, and Overstock. 

However, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to his or her perspectives and opinions concerning online shopping. Local "mom-and-pop" stores express frustrationwhen potential customers merely walk in to see what products they want and then immediately go to their phones to see which online retailer offers a better deal. But in the expanding globalized economy of the 21st century it makes sense that online shopping would be treated differently by different cultures. This gets to the heart of the reason why online shopping clashes with Sundays in Europe, and Germany more specifically.

There is currently a movement of German retailersparticipating in the initiative titled "Selbstbestimmter Sonntag" or "self-determined Sunday," including companies such as Karstadt and Kaufhof. The initiative's supporters are calling for shops to be open on Sundays in order to stay competitivewith online retailers. On the other hand, the German Green party of Lower Saxony have tackled this issue from the opposite point of view. They want to limit the opening hoursof online trading meaning that customers may place orders on Sundays but they would not be processed until Monday. 

The Green Party leader Stefan Körner told the news agency dpa, "It is sufficient, however, if the processing of the orderhappens on Monday. Then the employees do not have to stay the whole weekend." The measure with which the Greens are trying to "defend Sunday" received support from German Unions such as ver.di and at the same time received pushback from online retailers. The president of Bundesverband Onlinehandel (BVOH), Oliver Prothmann criticized the proposal:

"Any thinking of restriction or regulation is a step backward. [...] In the future, it may be the wish of consumers to have the order already on Sunday or at the latest on Monday [...]. It is precisely the Greens, as a consumer's party, that should not introduce these restrictions but look to the future of the consumer."

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Robot Technology Skirts Trump Administration Travel Ban

Living in the 21st century, humans have integrated technology into almost every function of our lives, both business and personal. Technology's evolution grows exponentially in both speed and complexity in order to make tasks, once impossible, relatively easy. With its integrated presence and use in society, people have found ways to apply it in context of social and political issues. This is apparent when we look at the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference held in Denver, Colorado at the beginning of May. With 2,900 attendees in 2017, the annual gathering was the largest of its kind in the world. 

For those in the technology field interested in career advancement and networking, events such as this CHI conference are a necessity, but with recent travel restrictions brought by executive orders signed by President Trump, many technology professionals are either unable or unwilling to travel to the United States. In fact, many researchers threatened to boycott the conference if organizers didn't move it outside the United States. Naturally, the organizers sought a solution to this problem by using robotics.

On the conference's website, the organizers called this phenomenon "telepresence attendance." The tech company Beam gave the conference a steep discount to provide mobile, robotic terminals available for rent ($300/day) for conference "attendees" who weren't physically there for one reason or another. German researcher Susan Boll appeared on one of these rolling interfaces as a way to protest the Trump administration's immigration and travel ban targeting seven Muslim majority nations. 
Initially, US Courts opposed the ban, both in its original and revised versions, as discriminatory. By the end of June, however, the Supreme Court allowed parts of Mr. Trump's travel ban to go into effect.

Though at the time of the conference, many participants were technically able to enter the US, they still did not attend out of fear or protest. "It is a political statement, right? That we can allow people to come," said Gloria Mark, General Chair of CHI and professor of informatics at the University of California Irving. Even with telepresence robots reserved for people who were denied visas, the conference still lost some attendees over the ban.

Still, the prospect of this technology opens new doors to communication. Think of it as an upgraded version of Skype allowing people to communicate in the middle of a crowded room attended by CHI student volunteers to assist with any technical malfunctions, of which there were a few. In light of this recent development, it appears that technology has an easier task adapting to the political environment in which we find ourselves. Politics and law have traditionally been slower to adapt to expanding technology, but perhaps developments such as this will significantly assist in bridging the gap.