iLaw Advises CleanCo in Company Rebrand and £7 Million Fund-Raise

iLaw Advises CleanCo in Company Rebrand and £7 Million Fund-Raise | iLaw - Corporate law firm in London

City boutique law firm iLaw, which has a focus on businesses and entrepreneurs, advised CleanCo in its company rebrand and a £7 million fund-raise for investment.

 

Founded by former Made in Chelsea TV personality Spencer Matthews, iLaw advised on the rebrand of the low & no-alcohol spirits business from Clean Liquor to CleanCo. Along with the rebrand, the company has also released two signature “ready to drink” products – Clean Gin & Tonic and Clean Rum & Cola which are now available in health food retailer Holland & Barrett. CleanCo also plans to expand its low-alcohol products across a wide range of beers, wines and vodka.

 

Led by Justin Ellis, the iLaw team helped the low-alcohol brand to raise £7 million investment from private individuals and venture capital funds for a 20% share in the company, following on from the £2m investment that completed in early 2020. Ursula Burns, the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and Simba Sleep founder James Cox are part of the investment group in the private raise. CleanCo will be spending the fund in advertising, product development and team expansion in the coming year.

 

iLaw director Justin Ellis commented: “The diverse nature of the investors, from private equity firms to well-known industry figures, plus actors and TV personalities, meant that we had to juggle a range of different priorities. That’s one of the things that makes it so interesting working with a client like CleanCo, and we were delighted to help them close their second investment round so that they can continue to expand their product range and markets.”

 

Notes to Editors 

iLaw is an innovative City of London commercial law firm with a focus on clients in the technology, media and telecoms sectors, although it has many clients in other sectors too.

To find out more, please contact iLaw’s director Justin Ellis via email at Justin.ellis@ilaw.co.uk or 07701 032087.

The sad story of Constitutional Courts: corruption, abortions, and dissenting opinions

The sad story of Constitutional Courts

What has gone wrong with Constitutional Courts in Poland, the Ukraine and Russia?

 

The Russian State Duma passed in its final reading a bill on powers and formation of the country’s Constitutional Court as it was approved in the recent amendments to the Constitution. One of the most controversial and criticised amendments was the new rule prohibiting the judges from “criticizing” the rulings of the Constitutional Court “in any form,” as well as from “making their disagreement with decisions public in any form.” The justices of the Court will no longer “have the right to disclose dissenting or non-concurring opinions in any form or refer to them publicly.” From 1992 to 2019, judges of the Constitutional Court of Russia issued more than 400 dissenting opinions and opinions on the Constitutional Court’s rulings. A dissenting opinion may contain an alternative approach to resolving a legal problem and is conventionally seen as a democratic instrument in constitutional jurisprudence. Russian opposition leaders and liberal experts aggressively criticised the Duma and Putin’s administration for the amendment aimed at ‘shutting’ justices’ mouths.

 

However, subsequent events in Poland and the Ukraine demonstrate that restricting powers of Constitutional courts is perhaps not a completely unreasonable move.

 

Firstly, the Ukrainian Constitutional Court provoked an unexpected constitutional crisis by striking down key anti-corruption laws that were put in place at the insistence of Ukraine’s main donors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In reply, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy submitted an urgent bill to dismiss all 15 judges of the Constitutional Court. The head of the Constitutional Court called this bill ‘an attempt at an unconstitutional coup’. Ukrainian investigators also launched a criminal case against the Constitutional Court judges on the premise of plot to forcefully topple constitutional order or seize state power. As a result, the country is now at the edge of another majdan (maɪˈdɑːn, revolution).

 

Secondly, Poland’s constitutional tribunal quite unexpectedly ruled that abortion due to foetal defects is unconstitutional, rejecting the most common of the few legal grounds for pregnancy termination in the predominantly Catholic country. Poland’s abortion laws were already among the strictest in Europe, but the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling will mean an almost total ban. This judgment was criticised by the Council of Europe, Amnesty International and numerous women’s rights activists. The scale of the protests suggests even some normally loyal supporters are repulsed by the ruling. The government was compelled to delay an official publication of the court ruling, which would have brought the ban into effect, but it is seen as a temporary solution.

 

The situation in the Eastern Europe demonstrates that in this time of turbulence even rulings of Constitutional Courts, that quite far from ‘down to earth’ justice, may provoke server public protests and even revolutions. Arguably, restricting constitutional justice in the ‘Russian way’ is not completely a bad thing, especially in 2020.

 

If you would like to discuss any issues regarding CIS practice that your business might be facing, then please contact the head of our CIS desk Dmitry Gololobov on 07921 160 108 or at dmitry.gololobov@ilaw.co.uk.

iLaw grows team in corporate push

iLaw grows team in corporate push

City boutique iLaw, which has a focus on businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in the tech sector, announces two major hires into its corporate and commercial practice.

 

Tony Roberts joins as Head of Corporate and Rhea Malhotra will lead the firm’s push in the CBD (Cannabidiol) sector.

 

Tony Roberts spent fourteen years at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, including a posting to its Moscow office, and was a partner at City firm Royds Withy King LLP before moving to iLaw. Tony acts for clients across a range of sectors, especially tech, media, retail and hospitality, and has particular expertise in cross-border M&A and joint ventures.

 

Rhea Malhotra joins from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Rhea will be advising clients on regulation and investment opportunities, concentrating on the swiftly growing market for CBD products.

 

iLaw director Justin Ellis commented:  “iLaw’s business continues to grow strongly, despite the turbulent conditions, and we have had a strategic focus on expanding the corporate and commercial side of our practice. Tony Roberts and Rhea Malhotra have acted on some stellar deals and their track record will be of great benefit as we build up our presence in the corporate space. Their arrivals also reflect the beginnings of a recovery that we’ve been seeing in the corporate transactional market.”

Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: challenges to the existing legal framework

iLaw | Technology law firm in London

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is no longer a mere computer which is capable of thinking or reasoning. It now encompasses a variety of techniques such as machine learning, logic programming, probabilistic reasoning and many others. But what unifies all these is the ability to replicate human behaviour. This raises many issues. One such issue that the world’s legal framework has to grapple with is that AI is capable of creating the subject-matter for Intellectual Property (“IP”) rights, and therefore also items that can infringe the IP rights of others.

 

Such recent developments in AI raise new questions regarding the purpose and scope of the protection of IP rights. Most IP laws in the UK and beyond require an inventor or an author to be a person with their own legal identity. On the basis that AI has become capable of inventing and creating, changes to the existing IP framework may be required. As is often the case, laws (in this case IP laws) may be lagging behind the swift development of technology that they were not created in contemplation of.

 

This has been recognised as a burning issue by many of the world’s IP authorities – for example, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has launched a consultation, which closes on 30 November, calling for views across the range of intellectual property rights. Likewise, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) is holding its third “Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence” on 4 November.

 

In this article we consider some current gaps in patent and copyright law, as these are the two areas of IP law of greatest importance in the context of AI. We’ll concentrate on English law, but many of the principles are similar elsewhere in the world.

 

  1. Ownership of patents in “inventions” created by AI

 

Patents protect “inventions”, such as new technological processes, which AI can, of course, create.

 

According to existing patent law, only a natural person (i.e. a human) can, and must, be identified as an “inventor” in a patent application. This was reflected recently in various decisions relating to patent applications concerning inventions created by AI system called DABUS. Dr Stephen Thaler, the creator of the DABUS system, applied for patents in his own name, but listed DABUS as the inventor. Applications were refused by the UKIPO, the European Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The legal frameworks applied by all three IP offices required the inventor to be human – AI systems cannot be inventors and therefore a patent cannot come into existence in relation to technology that AI “invents”.

 

Dr Thaler appealed against the UKIPO decision in the English courts. However, the court upheld the UKIPO decision. The judge clarified that it was common ground that DABUS was not a natural person, so any patent application listing DABUS as the inventor was bound to fail.

 

Although current law may require revision in order to reflect technological reality in this regard, the judge in the DABUS case indicated that there is room for argument that the owner of an AI system that invents something can themselves be listed as the inventor: “it would be far easier to contend that Dr Thaler was entitled to the grant of the patent … on the ground that he (Dr Thaler) owned the machine that did the inventing”. This approach would borrow from copyright law.

 

  1. Ownership of copyright in “works” created by AI

Copyright law in general protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. This can include software code, which is classified for these purposes as a literary work, and is an example of something that can be created by AI.

 

Generally, copyright law requires there to be some degree of human-generated creativity (it is, after all, an intellectual property right). But in the UK, there is a special category for computer-generated works provided that an originality requirement is met, which could be applied to AI creations. Under the existing legal framework, to be original the work must be “the author’s own intellectual creation”. This means it must result from the author’s free and creative choices and exhibit their “personal touch”. However, it is not clear how these concepts can apply to works created by AI.

 

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (“CDPA”) provides for some exceptions to the originality requirement. In particular, CDPA sets out that “entrepreneurial works” such as sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements are not required to be original and therefore copyright in such works may belong to producers, makers and publishers, regardless of their creative input.

 

These inconsistencies demonstrate the need for further development of the law in this area.

 

  1. Infringement of patents by things created by AI

 

There is another potential gap in patent law concerning the infringement of patents. Legally AI cannot infringe the UK patent law as the law only recognises “a person” (i.e. someone with a legal identity, whether an individual, a company etc) as infringing a patent, and it does not set out how liability might be established when a person is not involved. Does this mean that an AI system could infringe a patent with impunity? Or would the law apply the principles suggested above, that it is the owner of the AI system that would be found liable for the infringement?

 

Unlike copyright, there is no knowledge requirement in order to infringe the patent. Given that AI systems are becoming more and more autonomous, the owner of an AI system may not even be aware that an infringing activity is taking place.

 

  1. Infringement of copyright by things created by AI.

Copyright can be infringed when someone uses, copies or adapts a “substantial part” of a copyright work without the owner’s permission. In order to infringe copyright, the infringer must have access to a copy of the original work (unlike for patent infringement). Unless imbued with the ability to determine the level of borrowing necessary to constitute infringement, it would be easy for AI to infringe somebody’s copyright, for example by replicating some existing software code.

 

When AI generates a work that infringes copyright, it is likely that the infringer would be “a person who has control over infringement”. That is usually going to be the owner of the AI system, because the owner has the ability to turn the system off or (perhaps) instruct it not to do the infringing act.

 

Conclusion

 

The UK is considered to have one of the best IP environments in the world and the UK Government aims to make the UK a global centre for AI and data-driven innovation. The protection of IP rights is an efficient economic tool that incentivises and rewards creativity and therefore it must be regulated accordingly. It is vital that these protections keep pace with the changing technological environment and that the existing legal framework is adapted accordingly.

If you would like more information on Artificial Intelligence and Technology, then please contact Justin Ellis at justin.ellis@ilaw.co.uk.

 

iLaw is holding a webinar on this hot topic on 26 November. If you would like to receive further information or to register, please contact Bonnie Wat at bonnie.wat@ilaw.co.uk.

The Devil Is In The (Service) Details: Evasive Respondents And The 2014 LCIA Arbitration Rules

iLaw | arbitration law firm in London

Service of proceedings should be simple and straightforward. But what happens when you are faced with an evasive Respondent? In those cases, service rapidly becomes one of the most frustrating (and sometimes costly) aspects and your proceedings have yet to begin! When you add the current pandemic to the mix, it is not surprising that case reports about challenges to jurisdiction and default judgments have been on the rise.

In an ideal world under the 2014 LCIA Arbitration Rules, the parties would: (i) agree service by electronic means and designate relevant email addresses; or (ii) agree a physical address for the purposes of receiving communication in regard to the arbitration agreement. Alternatively, the parties would at least be able to point to a specific address regularly used in their previous dealings where written communications relating to the arbitration can then be delivered. However, delivery of written communications to the other side and, in particular, the Request for Arbitration can be a feat of its own if none of the above apply. The challenge can be even greater if the Respondent refuses to engage with the process and there is limited or no information about the Respondent’s registered address or principal office, or its directors’ principal residences so that it is not possible to rely on the safety nets provided by section 76 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

In this article, Jenny Lau and Mariya Lazarova share some practical tips to deal with service of a Request for Arbitration on evasive Respondents.

Prepare, investigate and keep records

  • In the absence of contractual or otherwise agreed notice procedures and cooperation from the Respondent, it is important to investigate from an early stage the Respondent’s location, registered address or place of business, as well the whereabouts and contact details of its directors. The Respondent is likely to be more forthcoming with such information during any negotiation process and less so if discussions break down!
  • Diligent internal record keeping is advised in order to be able to address any future challenges that may be raised.
  • During a time crunch, even the most obvious details (or addresses!) might go undetected. Therefore, it is important to verify and double-check the sources of information as well as the accuracy of the information itself.

Explore all physical and electronic options

  • It might be tempting to dispatch the papers to one address only, but if in doubt, dispatch not only to the registered address, but also to the last known address and the address of any known authorized agents[1].
  • If all else fails and finding and delivering to the correct address or persons is not possible, service can still be effected if the Claimant can show that it has notified key executives of the Respondent of the Request for Arbitration. Drawing executive attention to the delivery of papers is therefore essential via all possible means, and the Claimant should make sure that it obtains evidence of the steps it has taken to do so.

Stay on top of the logistics

  • When dealing with evasive Respondents the logistics of effecting delivery are no less important than the strategical planning and legal justification of the method adopted and address(es) used.
  • Again, the Claimant should obtain proofs of delivery, tracking reports and keep notes of all communications with any courier service provider. In our experience, sometimes the smallest and seemingly mechanical steps can play a decisive role in questions related to effective service and/or notification.
  • From a strategic management perspective, care should be taken to keep sight of all the moving parts of the puzzle especially if delivery is to be attempted on multiply entities / persons at multiple addresses.

Finally, be ready for surprises along the way! We have seen the discovery of new addresses after delivery has already been attempted, papers have been refused upon delivery and in one instance, the occupants of the Respondent’s registered address claimed to have never heard of the Respondent at all.

Although the above might be a matter of common sense, the risk of an eventual challenge to the arbitration award for lack of effective notification or jurisdiction makes going back to basics well worth the trip!

 

 

*This article is not intended to give any legal advice or to give rise to client-solicitor relationship. It has been preparation for information purposes only. If you require legal assistance in the field of arbitration and/or litigation, please contact iLaw’s Head of Arbitration, Jenny Lau at  jenny.lau@ilaw.co.uk

[1] The decisions in Sino Channel Asia Ltd v Dana Shipping and Trading PTE Singapore & Anor [2016] EWHC 1118 (Comm) (20 May 2016) and Glencore Agriculture B.V. (formerly Glencore Grain B.V.) v Conqueror Holding Ltd [2017] EWHC 2893 (Comm) are useful reminders about the pitfalls of service on unauthorised persons and the use of improper email addresses.