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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Equestrian team win silver

Team GB’s equestrians have won a silver medal in the Olympic eventing competition. Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Zara Phillips and Nicola Wilson came only behind Germany on the fourth day of London 2012.

Meanwhile, comments by a US coach that Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen’ world record-breaking swim in the women’s 400 metres individual medley on Saturday was “unbelievable” and “disturbing” have been dismissed by the British Olympic Association (BOA). BOA chairman Lord Moynihan said Ye had passed drugs tests and deserved “recognition for her talent“.

This downloadable Olympics 2012 Guidance for Employers guides employers through the various potential issues that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are posing for businesses. It deals with flexible working, volunteering, annual leave requests and unauthorised absence.

Nasdaq sued over Facebook flotation

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 7th June 2012, the Nasdaq stock exchange, which conducted the Facebook flotation in May 2012, previously offered to reimburse investors who were unable to make a profit in the first day of trading due to a technical glitch with the exchange on the day.

But Swiss bank UBS is now suing Nasdaq for “gross mishandling” of the Facebook share sale, claiming that it made a £240 million loss as a result of the technical problems. It argues that the glitch caused it to enter orders multiple times which left UBS with more shares than it needed – and that those shares have since fallen almost 50% in value.

If your business is considering issuing, transferring or allotting shares, this set of template documents can help with each of these transactions.

Video games on Linux

Video games developer Valve has decided to produce games for computers running the Linux operating system. For those unfamiliar with Linux, it’s an alternative to Windows and is supposed to have few licencing restrictions and be more “open source”. But Valve uses DRM (digital rights management) technology to prevent users copying and distributing the games. The juxtaposition is therefore an interesting one.

Richard Stallman, who founded the Free Software Foundation and initiated the development of the GNU operating system (a precursor to Linux), argues that charging users for DRM-protected games on the open-source platform would be “unethical”. But he accepts that the move by Valve will also have some positive implications in bringing popular software to the Linux platform.

If your business develops software, you may find this set of template software licence agreements useful. Licences provide considerable protection for the intellectual property rights subsisting in software and indeed for the software itself. By clearly setting out what the user may or may not do with a piece of software in a software licence, developers can ensure that they maximise returns on their investments, restrict free-riding use of their creative and inventive work, and produce software that remains stable across a broad range of computer systems. You can alternatively download this set of open source software licences if you prefer Mr Stallman’s philosophy.

Redundancy at Air France-KLM increases losses

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 21st June 2012, Air France-KLM previously announced plans to cut around 10% of its total workforce, or just over 5,000 jobs, by the end of 2013. The move forms part of a restructuring plan for the ailing company to reduce costs and return to growth

It has now emerged that the company’s losses have widened as a result of redundancy payouts. It has cost the airline €368 million to cover the cost of these payments. To further exacerbate the company’s woes, two out of three of the unions representing cabin crew rejected the cost cutting plans.

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.

Google fails to delete Street View data

Back in 2010 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that Google was in breach of the Data Protection Act. Whilst sending out its cars with cameras perched atop ostensibly for the purpose of collecting images for its map software, Google Street View, it had also been collecting personal information from wi-fi networks. Along with legitimate data about the location of these hotspots, the Google Street View cars were also harvesting personal details from unsecured networks, known as payload data. Although the ICO initially dropped a probe into the affair after being told limited data had been “mistakenly collected”, it later re-opened the investigation after being made aware of reports that a Google engineer had deliberately written software to obtain a wider range of material (see Simply-docs blog entry of 14th June 2012).

Google had originally given an undertaking to destroy the data it was holding and issued a statement saying it had done so in December 2010. However, it has now emerged that the search giant recently contacted the ICO to report that some of the data it had gathered had not actually been deleted, and is still in existence, some 18 months after it should have been wiped. ICO asked Google to hand over the data immediately “so that we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action“. A response is now being awaited.

All businesses must adhere to the principles laid down by the Data Protection Act 1998, which govern how personal data is collected, held and processed by organisations. This pair of template data protection policies sets out the data protection obligations of businesses and employers and lays down a number of organisational and procedural measures to ensure compliance with the Act.

Tech companies begin IP trial

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 24th July 2012, executives from Apple and Samsung were unable to agree on the value of eachother’s patents at a settlement conference ahead of a high profile trial. The trial in question – to be heard by a jury – began on Monday 30th July 2012. It focuses on a multitude of similarities between the mobile phones and tablets produced by the two companies which, together, manufacture more than half of all the world’s smartphones.

The case, prompted by a lawsuit lodged by Apple in April 2011 which led to a countersuit being lodged by Samsung, could result in damages amounting to billions of dollars for either or both technology giants. Many different aspects of intellectual property will come into consideration, from hardware and user-interface design through to use of 3G technology and camera integration. Florian Muller, a patent consultant who has blogged about the run-up to the trial, said “No trial before this one has been about such a diversity of intellectual property rights – we have different kinds of patents and so-called trade dresses [packaging and appearance claims] in play.” He warned that “The jury is probably going to be able to tell whether some of Samsung’s products look similar to Apple’s, but it will almost certainly be overtaxed as far as the highly technical patents are concerned.

If your business is dealing with patents, this professionally written set of Patents, Know-How and Design Agreements can be of assistance in securing your business model.

More Olympic tickets on sale

Following a spectacular opening evening to the London 2012 Olympic Games, criticisms have been levelled against the manifestation of empty seating at various events. LOCOG – the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games which is responsible for preparing and staging the London 2012 Games – has said 3,000 tickets were “put back into the pot” and sold on the London 2012 website on Sunday night to try and remedy the embarrassing problem.

It seems that many of the seats in the accredited “Olympic family” areas – reserved for groups including officials, sports federations, athletes, journalists and sponsors – were those which suffered from non-attendance.  Commenting, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said “Often these are very nice seats in very high-profile positions – and so what we’re saying to the IOC and the International Sports Federations is if you’re not going to use them, could we have as many as possible back, because, of course, we’ve got lots of members of the public who would dearly love to go.

This downloadable Olympics 2012 Guidance for Employers guides employers through the various potential issues that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are posing for businesses. It deals with flexible working, volunteering, annual leave requests and unauthorised absence.

Footballer suffered racial victimisation

As reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 16th July 2012, black footballer Mark McCammon took his former club, Gillingham FC, to an employment tribunal, with claims of race discrimination, breach of contract, unfair dismissal and failure of payment of wages. He alleged that he and other black players at the club, were treated differently from white players. He also argued that the club tried to “frustrate him out” by refusing to pay private medical bills to help him regain his fitness following injury.

The employment tribunal has now ruled in Mr McCammon favour, finding that his dismissal by Gillingham FC constituted unfair racial victimisation. His former club said it was in discussions with its lawyers to decide on its next course of action and whether to appeal the decision, with which it said it was “hugely disappointed“.

To help avoid any potential discrimination claims, ensure that your company’s policies are compliant with the Equality Act 2010. You can download a comprehensive range of policies and guidance notes to help you comply with your responsibilities under equal opportunities legislation, including promoting diversity, preventing discrimination and preventing bullying and harassment.

Police officer jailed for workplace absence lies

Former North Yorkshire Police officer Rachel Hewitt was prosecuted after requesting time off work to spend time with her daughter who, she claimed, was undergoing chemotherapy in intensive care for cancer. It was later revealed that her daughter was in fact taking part in show jumping events during this time, and Ms Hewitt was taken to Hull Crown Court, facing allegations of fraud and misconduct in public office.

Ms Hewitt has now been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Judge Simon Jack said she had shown an “extreme breach of trust” by telling the lie for around two years before she was arrested in October 2011. She denied a further charge of fraud relating to a request for a career break to look after her daughter, with which the Crown Prosecution Service agreed it would not proceed.

Criminal fraud and misconduct notwithstanding, all businesses should have appropriate policies, procedures and systems in place to handle planned absences, like holidays, and unplanned absence, such as absence through sickness and injury. This set of downloadable template documents can help with this task.

Sex discrimination at Olympics

Representatives from various European women’s rights groups have raised concerns that sexual discrimination is being allowed to take place at the Olympics. It symbolically buried the Olympic Charter, claiming its principles of condoning any form of discrimination and upholding equality of men and women had been decimated.

Annie Sugier, spokewoman for the International League of Women’s Rights, noted that women are competing in 30 fewer events than men at London 2012, and that only 132 gold medals are available to women compared to 162 for men, saying “It is clear that more needs to be done as there is still gender discrimination at the Olympics“.

To help avoid any potential discrimination claims in your business, ensure that your company’s policies are compliant with the Equality Act 2010. You can download a comprehensive range of policies and guidance notes to help you comply with your responsibilities under equal opportunities legislation, including promoting diversity, preventing discrimination and preventing bullying and harassment. See also these professionally written template redundancy documents.

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