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Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 19th February 2018

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 19th February 2018

Here are this week’s headlines:

Ford Executive resigns after allegations of improper behaviour

Reported by Spencer Yap 

In August 2017, Ford settled with the American Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding an inquiry into gender and race harassment in two of its Chicago factories. The Commission alleged that female and certain ethnic minorities were under sexual and racial harassment, and discovered that the company took actions against employees who reported the matter. Now the #MeToo social media movement, which started off as seeking accountability in Hollywood, has moved its way into the corporate environment, pushing for more corporate accountability. This led to several high-profile executives and politicians quitting, one of them being Raj Nair, Ford’s executive vice president of global product development.

During his tenure as vice president, Mr Nair was responsible for operations which generated about 90% of Ford’s global profits. Before his latest post, “Nair previously served as Ford’s chief technical officer. He joined Ford in 1987 and rose through the automaker’s manufacturing and engineering ranks to become head of global product development in 2015.  Nair stands to lose about $4.8 million worth of Ford restricted shares he was granted in May 2017 that would have vested had a remained with the company until May 2020″.

Although there have not been any comments made regarding the exact actions which led to Mr Nair’s resignation, Ford CEO, Jim Hackett stated that “Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values”.

For more information, see Reuters, the BBC and The Telegraph.

Court decisions reveal a strict stance in consumer protection law

Reported by Jutha Cheewat 

The Austrian Supreme Court took a strict stance on information requirements in webshops (simply an online shop or store), as the EU ‘s Consumer Rights Directive contains strict information requirements for all online retailers. These changes will make it more challenging to design a webshop.

The core question in the case was to what extent traders are required to provide the same information to consumers twice, namely the first time in the course of the order process, and the second time directly before the consumer places their order.

The Der Oberste Gerichtshof (Austrian Supreme Court) decided that information on the main characteristics of the goods/services must be provided to the consumer directly before the consumer places the order.

“An online retailer must enable the consumer, directly before the consumer places the order, to grasp the essential points of the (to be concluded) contract at a glance. Thus, a separate information on such essential points must be provided at that point in time.” This means that providing a ‘go back’ button will not be sufficient.

Having said that, such a consumer-friendly decision has not yet been able to influence the decision made by online shopping providers.

Read more at Freshfields.

Disney loses copyright dispute with Redbox

Reported by Anna Flaherty

Redbox buys retail copies of Disney movies, within which is a piece of paper which has a digital download code printed upon it. Redbox removes this piece of paper and repackages it, sells them to customers at kiosks. The automated kiosks also dispense both DVD and Blu-ray discs.

With Disney now trying to compete the likes of Netflix, in terms of a streaming service, the company has requested an injunction. This injunction would stop Redbox’s aforementioned practices.

Disney has claimed that Redbox has no business arrangement with them and that a copyright infringement arose because the language on Disney packing made it clear that codes were not for sale or transfer.

Redbox had insisted that it was well within its rights to resell copies of Disney’s movies after they had already been sold.

In response, a Judge in California accused Disney of “copyright misuse” and said that the wording on the packaging did not make an enforceable contract.

The next hearing, on 5 March, will address Redbox’s motion to dismiss the case. The result of this recent injunction ruling, given the Judge’s reasoning, could have a significant effect on the rest of the law suit.

Read more here.

University lecturers begin strike in pension dispute

Reported by Nathan Gore 

On Thursday, thousands of lecturers and other staff members went on strike, in over 50 universities all over the country. They are striking over planned changes to their pensions, brought in by the employer’s group Universities UK (UUK), that some say will leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement. The striking campaign is scheduled to run throughout the next month, as is the biggest ever seen in UK universities.

Staff, represented by the University and College Union (UCU)  are even threatening to continue this strike up to and over final-year exams and graduation ceremonies, if their demands are not met. The Government has now stepped in to try and mediate this dispute, after growing increasingly frustrated with the failure of both sides to negotiate a new agreement. Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, has urged both sides to return to negotiations to avoid further disruption for students “I am deeply concerned about the impact this strike will have on students, who deserve to receive the education that they are paying for. For many, this is a vital time in their studies,” he said.

Students at about 30 universities have signed petitions asking for refunds, to compensate them for the general disruption to their studies, and potential access to facilities. As lecturers will not be paid during strike days, the current situation would lead to universities walking away with some extra money. The total number signing the petitions has almost reached 70,000 already, with thousands more signing up everyday.

The UCU estimates that a million students will be affected by strike action, with the loss of 575,000 teaching hours that will not be rescheduled.

Read more here and here.

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