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Friday, August 04, 2017

Upcoming Seminars and Events USA-­Markteintrittsseminar und Risk Management Meeting


BridgehouseLaw fördert auch dieses Event durch Sponsorship und die Stellung eines mit den Themen in den USA vertrauten Referenten.

Wann:

13. September 2017: USA­ Markteintritts-­Seminar
14. September 2017: Risk Management Meeting
Die folgenden Themen werden unter Anderem ausführlich behandelt:
  • Corporate Formation and Governance
  • Standortwahl und Zuschüsse
  • US­ Taxation 
  • Vertriebsaufbau und Marketing 
  • HR und Personalrekrutierung in den USA
  • Visum und Arbeitserlaubnis
  • Datenschutz und Datensicherheit Produkthaftung
  • US­ Prozessrecht Haftungsschutz für die deutsche Muttergesellschaft 
  • Hire & Fire in den USA
  • Herausforderungen der transatlantischen Personalführung
  • Contractual Risk Management
Beide Tage sind, je nach Interesse und bisherigem USA-Engagement, sowohl einzeln als auch zusammen buchbar. Die Referenten leben teilweise in den USA oder haben aus Deutschland heraus starke USA ­Erfahrungen, die Ihnen praxisrelevante Anregungen vermitteln. Im Übrigen werdenauch Inhaus­-Schulungen angeboten, falls Ihnen diese Termine nicht passen oder Sie die Informationen gerne mehreren Interessenten vermitteln möchten.

Weitere Seminartermine für das Jahr 2017 sowie die vollständige Programmübersicht und  Informationen zu Teilnahme und Anmeldung finden Sie bitte hier.


BridgeAlliance Seminar in Cuba - Save the Date!


Our partners from the Bridge Alliance have prepared a varied agenda of activities, including a visit to the Mariel Special Trade Zone, as well as opportunities to establish relations with major industry sectors, such as energy, food, and tourism, which are open for business with foreign investors. We will also have a chance to hear directly from Cuban companies and government officials on the current portfolio of business opportunities.

It would be our pleasure to have you join us at this event! Please contact us at annual.meeting@bridge-alliance.com for further information.  

Thursday, August 03, 2017

How to Obtain Your Italian Citizenship Iure Sanguinis via Ancestor & Equality in Treatment

For many reasons it now seems there is an enhanced interest in obtaining a citizenship other than a US one. While I believe that having a dual citizenship in general is always a good thing, having a US citizenship plus another from one the EU countries is even better. For one, once you are a citizen of a EU country you could move to any of them and work and live there without a visa or a work permit.
 
In particular Italy allows you to obtain its citizenship not only if you are born in Italy or marry an Italian, but also if one of your ancestors was an Italian citizen; however, this is not as easy as it may sound.

There are several requisites that one needs to have in order to qualify, and there are several rules that limit that possibility. One such rule is that, up until 2009, you could not obtain Italian citizenship through female lineage of ancestry if your female ancestor had been born before 1/1/1948, which was when Italy became a Republic and the Italian Constitution was enacted. Why? Well, in order to understand the above requirement you need to have an Italian history lesson, albeit a short one.
 
Italy is a relatively "young" country. As a matter of fact, it became a country only in 1861 when the Italian peninsula was unified into the Kingdom of Italy, which was then ruled by King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia, of the House of Savoy. Prior to that, Italy had consisted of many different mini-states. In 1861, the territory, except for Rome which remained under the Papacy until 1870, was unified and Italy was born as a Kingdom ruled by the Savoy dynasty.
 
On July 1, 1912, the first law regarding citizenship entered into force (Law no.555) and it was indeed a very male centered kind of law, reflecting the culture of the territory. According to Law 555/1912, the citizenship followed the man of the family. Consequently, if the father or husband renounced or lost his Italian citizenship, so would the entire family. This law remained basically untouched until 1983, when the Italian Supreme Court pronounced this law unconstitutional insofar as it created a disparity between men and women; Art. 1 of Law 123/1983, enacted right after the Supreme Court decision, confirmed what the Supreme Court established. The matter was then further modified in 1992, with Law no.91, which entered into force on February 5 of the same year. This law further modified the 1912 legislation. The main change of the 1992 legislation consisted in allowing dual citizenship in many more instances than before. The 1992 law was enacted because of pressure by people who migrated mostly in Argentina and Brazil, countries that, in the '80s, were experiencing a serious economic depression. Consequently, the expatriates saw coming back to the very economically "happy" Italy of the '80s as a way out of the crisis. For this reason, the 1992 law contains rules favoring the reacquisition of citizenship by Italian ancestry through naturalization.
 
However, true equality in obtaining Italian citizenship was not reached through any of the above laws, and is still not a complete reality today. Italian Supreme Court decisions are always considered retroactive, but in this instance, up until 2009, Italian Courts interpreted this particular decision granting equality to women to be retroactive only up until 1/1/1948. The reasoning behind it was that 1/1/1948 was the date of entering into force of the Constitution, and a law could not be held unconstitutional before the existence of the Constitution itself.
 
Finally, in 2009, there were two decisions by the Corte di Cassazione (the highest interpreter of ordinary laws and regulations in Italy) that inverted this trend (Cass.Civ.sez.un. 25 February, 2009 no. 4466; affirmed by Cass.civ.sez.I, 29 July 2009, no.175148 and Cass.civ.Sez.I, 19 April 2010, no.9275; further affirmed by lower tribunals such as Tribunale Roma, Sez. I, 20 January 2015, no.1304). According to the Corte di Cassazione, the child born from an Italian mother born before 1948 must be considered an Italian citizen by birth. The retroactive force of the decision also includes children born from an Italian mother AFTER the entering into force of Law 555/1912. Finally! No? No, not so fast!
 
Since no law was enacted to apply the principles established by the Corte di Cassazione, as of today, in order to obtain Italian citizenship through a female ancestor whose child was born before 1/1/1948, one still needs to go through an attorney in Italy and apply to the Tribunal of Rome.
 
In the alternative, if you don't have a "1948 issue", comply with all other requisites required by the law, and have time and money to do it, there is another choice if you do not want to deal with the long wait to get an appointment with your Italian Consulate. You can go and stay in Italy for a few months and do everything from there. You could pick a beautiful city in Italy, move there, apply for residency, and once you get it, you can submit all documentation directly to your city of residency. Who wouldn't want to spend a few months in Italy?
 
A much less fun option would be to have an attorney do everything for you from here. Hey, you can't have everything!

For more information on this topic, please contact attorney Monica Boccia at 
monica.boccia@bhlus.com 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Affen Selfie: Gewonnen und doch verloren - Die Tücken des amerikanischen Rechtssystems

Es gibt ein weiteres Update zu Naruto, dem berühmten, Selfie knipsenden Schopfmakaken. Bereits in unseren Newslettern im Dezember 2015 und Februar 2016 haben wir hierüber geschrieben. Dieses jetzige Update könnte gleichzeitig das letzte zu diesem Rechtsstreit sein.

Zur Erinnerung: Der britische Fotograf David Slater begab sich 2008 nach Indonesien, um die vom Aussterben bedrohten Schopfmakaken abzulichten. Dabei kam es dazu, dass ein Affe die von Slater bereitgestellte Kamera an sich nahm und mehrere Fotos von sich machte, unter anderem auch das berühmten Selfie.
Nachdem gerichtlich festgestellt wurde, dass Slater selbst kein Copyright an dem Bild erlangen konnte, wurde er zudem von der Tierschutzorgnisation PETA verklagt, die den Affen für den wahren Inhaber des Copyrights hielten. Das Gericht im Northern District of California entschied daraufhin Anfang 2016, dass Tiere nicht klagen können, solange der U.S.-Kongress dies per Gesetz nicht ausdrücklich erlaubt. Hiergegen legte PETA alsbald Berufung ein.
Im Juli fand nun die Anhörung vor dem Berufungsgericht statt - allerdings ohne Slater. Dieser konnte sich den Flug zum Gericht nach San Francisco nicht leisten, da er aufgrund des Rechtsstreits inzwischen vermögenslos ist. Hierzu kommen noch ausstehende Anwaltsrechnungen, die fehlenden Einnahmen aus dem Foto gegenüberstehen. Zudem würde ein Obsiegen im Berufungsverfahren nicht bedeuten, dass ihm das Copyright an dem Foto zusteht.
Slater gibt an, er könne sich keine neue Fotoausrüstung leisten und habe überdies vorerst genug von der Fotografie. Er wolle nun Tennis-Lehrer werden und zunächst mit dem Ausführen von Hunden seinen Lebensunterhalt bestreiten.

Dieser Fall verdeutlicht wieder, dass das Obsiegen in einem Verfahren vor einem US-Gericht nicht zwangsläufig einen Sieg darstellt. Oft entstehen durch Anwaltsgebühren höhere Kosten, als wenn früh im Verfahren eine außergerichtliche Einigung erzielt wird. Es sollte deshalb immer abgewogen werden, ob ein Prozess selbst im Falle des Obsiegens wirtschaftlich sinnvoll ist.

Ein Gutes hat diese Geschichte dennoch: Der ursprüngliche Zweck von Slaters Reise, auf diese Makaken-Art und ihre Bedrohung aufmerksam zu machen, wurde durch die mediale Berichterstattung erfüllt. Laut Slater ist diese Art ist nun nicht mehr vom Aussterben bedroht.

Quellen:

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)

1-http://fortune.com/2017/06/28/canada-supreme-court-google/
2-id.
3-id.
4-http://fortune.com/2017/05/16/eu-judges-right-forgotten-google/
5-http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/feature/The-GDPR-right-to-be-forgotten-Dont-forget-it

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.
2 www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
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.