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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Apple patents “invalid”

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 28th August 2012, a high-value intellectual property trial between Apple and Samsung resulted in an American jury deciding that several Samsung devices had infringed Apple’s software and design patents, with a consequent court ruling that the South Korean manufacturer pay the US tech giant $1.05 billion in damages.

But the US Patent and Trademark Office has now given a preliminary ruling to the effect that 20 Apple patents relating to scroll technology “lack novelty” and are therefore potentially invalid. Samsung has submitted the preliminary ruling to judge Lucy Koh, who is considering appeals against the judgment from the original trial.

Designs form an important part of the intellectual property portfolios of many businesses, particularly those engaged in inventive or creative pursuits. This downloadable template Registered Design Assignment agreement provides for the transfer of registered design ownership.

Owner-Employee Contracts

In his speech at the Conservative conference, Chancellor George Osborne announced new government proposals for a tax exempt “employee-ownership” scheme. This idea, aimed as SMEs, would essentially allow shares worth between £2,000 and £50,000 to be purchased by employees in exchange for giving up certain employment law rights. The shares would be exempt from capital gains tax.

Under the new employee-owner contract, employees would have to give up their UK rights on unfair dismissal, redundancy, the right to request flexible working and time off for training. Furthermore, women would be required provide 16 weeks’ notice of a firm date of return from maternity leave, instead of the usual 8 weeks.

Although the new type of employee ownership contract would only be optional for existing employees, companies would be allowed to offer only this type of arrangement for new recruits – but they would have the option of inserting more generous employment conditions into the employment contract.

It is expected that legislation enabling this new type of owner-employee contract will come into force in April 2013. Meanwhile, the government will consult on some details of the contract.

Until this new type of contract becomes available, this set of template employment contracts will help you with the hiring process.

400 jobs axed at AA

AA has announced that 406 jobs are to be cut at its insurance call centre in Cardiff, and has started formal consultations with the union and business representatives. It said it would be focusing its call centre activity in Newcastle in future, and its Cardiff base would move to smaller offices within two years.

It gave its reasons in a company statement: “Changes in the way that people buy and renew insurance – particularly the sharp growth in online transactions, resulting in fewer purchases made by telephone through conventional call centres – has led the AA to consider the way it looks after its customers through all of its road and insurance call centres, as part of a UK-wide review.

If your company is facing the prospect of having to make redundancies, ensure that you follow the correct procedures with the help of these professionally written template redundancy documents.

Pearson director resigns

The first woman to head a FTSE 100 company, Dame Marjorie Scardino, has announced that she will step down as chief executive of publishing firm Pearson at the end of 2012, after 16 years at the helm. She will be replaced by John Fallon, who is currently head of Pearson’s International Education division.

A government commissioned review has recommended a minimum target of 25% female representation on the boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015, so this news will not be welcomed by advocates of the proposals.

If your company is considering changing the composition of its board of directors, this useful set of templates can help with all matters involving directors including appointments and removals.

Internet addiction almost official

It has been reported that the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – which provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders – will include internet-use disorder as a condition ”recommended for further study”.

Although the inclusion does not mean it’s a recognised mental illness which can be diagnosed, according to the manual, it does acknowledge that there are potentially risks related to the overuse of the internet. Some people may say this seems pretty obvious, as pretty much anything is harmful in excess!

Internet overuse and/or misuse at work is a common issue facing employers. This template Communications Policy can help you ensure that your employees understand what your company deems to be acceptable use of its communications facilities, with particular attention paid to email, telephone and internet use.

Stoptober

Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation are promoting a mass attempt to stop smoking in October. The collective endeavour, called Stoptober, encourages smokers to abstain from lighting up for 28 days. It’s based on research which indicates that people who stop smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to stay smoke-free.

Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London, noted that large scale attempts to change human behaviour (such as smoking) are more effective due to the fact that people are “social animals” influenced by each other.

Smoking has been banned in the workplace since relevant legislation came into force back in 2007. This template No Smoking Policy sets out a company’s duty to provide a safe working environment and uphold the ban imposed on smoking in public places, as laid down in the Health Act 2006.

Over 2,000 jobs lost at JJB Sports

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 25th September 2012, JJB Sports has been facing financial difficulties for some time. The sports clothes and equipment retailer has now been put into administration, with the loss of some 2,200 jobs. Sports Direct bought 20 stores but the remaining 133 stores closed with immediate effect.

Richard Fleming, the UK head of restructuring at KPMG, which is managing the administration process, said “Successive attempts to restructure the business, both financially and operationally, have not been enough to prevent the company falling into administration … Unfortunately a buyer could only be found for 20 stores on a going concern basis.

If your company is facing the prospect of having to make redundancies, ensure that you follow the correct procedures with the help of these professionally written template redundancy documents.

Heineken buys Tiger

Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), which produces Tiger beer, is being bought by Dutch brewer Heineken. Singapore-based conglomerate Fraser and Neave previously controlled about 40% of the company, whilst Heineken held a 56% stake.

The Heineken takeover, which is the culmination of a bidding war which has been ongoing since July, still requires approval from Singapore regulators.

If your company is considering a business acquisition, these template business sale agreements could help you with the process.

G4S directors resign following Olympics security debacle

The failure of security company G4S to fulfil its government contract to provide 10,400 security guards as part of the security arrangements for the London 2012 Olympics has resulted in the army being called upon to lend at least 3,500 soldiers to cover the shortfall. Two of the company’s directors – David Taylor-Smith, chief operating officer, and Ian Horseman Sewell, a managing director – have now resigned in recognition of the failures.

But G4S’s chief executive, Nick Buckles, has decided to remain in his post. A company statement supporting this decision reads “Whilst the [chief executive] has ultimate responsibility for the company’s performance, the review did not identify significant shortcomings in his performance or serious failings attributable to him in connection with the Olympic contract.

This set of documents contains a Programme for Removal or Replacement of a Director, which sets out the steps whereby the shareholders of a company can remove a director from office and, if required, replace that director. It also contains are also ancillary documents, including Minutes for Board Meetings and General Meetings to consider and pass the ordinary resolution(s) to remove or replace a director.

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