Archive for June, 2010

I “heart” Brodies’ Techblog

Sorry about the lack of post recently but I am just back from New York City.  As with most husbands in New York I seemed to spend a lot of time in tourist shops looking at T-shirts with this logo:-

What an amazingly valuable trade mark.

Because it is a registered mark the City of New York can prevent its use (misuse), and also get a royalty payment for every T-shirt, mug etc. sold that carries the logo.

Interestingly it seems that charging royalties for use of the logo on merchandise is a relatively new thing, and that when the logo was first launched in 1976 it was available for use free of charge. This makes sense – the logo was created to prmote New York and not as a revenue generator. However, now the brand is so well known it can do both at once.

Interesting Fact – In researching this article I found out that New York has an official state muffin. It’s apple.   

Final settlement of Sky v EDS – £318m to Sky

Following the High Court’s ruling in favour of Sky in January this year, it has been reported that Sky has now reached a settlement with EDS/HP in relation to Sky’s long-running claim against EDS for a failed IT implementation. Under the terms of the settlement, HP will pay to Sky £318m in damages, costs and interest.

That figure is just over ten times the general cap on liability that EDS had negotiated under the contract (although much less than the £700m that Sky originally sought). As Douglas has previously blogged, that cap didn’t apply once the court found that one of EDS’ employees had made fraudulent misrepresentations to Sky during the course of contract negotiations.

For more analysis of the High Court’s decision, and what it means for IT projects in the future, see Douglas’s summary.

Contact centres – OFCOM guidance in relation to disabled customers

OFCOM has published some guidance which helps operators of contact centres to better understand their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995/the forthcoming Equality Act 2010 (which replaces the DDA later this year).

The guidance is relevant both to businesses that operate contact centres in relation to their own business (whether in-house or through an outsourced service provider), and also to those who operate contact centres on behalf of other clients, whether as a core service or ancillary to a wider outsourcing contract. Whilst the latter may not have direct obligations to customers under anti disability discrimination legislation, they may well have obligations to their corporate clients under the outsourcing contract. Similarly, just because you have outsourced the operation of a contact centre does not mean that you have delegated your legal obligations to a third party.

The guidance emphasises the steps that operators of contact centres should take to help them to comply with their obligations not to discriminate on the grounds of disability, and their duty to make reasonable adjustments in respect of the provision of services. The guidance includes tips for both contact centre staff and for businesses that operate contact centres.

The advice to businesses highlights the importance of disability awareness training for contact centre staff, and of properly considering the needs of disabled customers when constructing IVRs, call routing menus and other parts of the contact centre infrastructure.

Note that the guidance appears to focus on voice-based contact centres. However, I would add another tip to the list – consider how your voice-based contact centre fits in with your other customer touch points. For example, can your service be made more accessible to customers with hearing impairments by offering access by email, a web-based service centre, or by an accessible web-based chat service?

If you have outsourced operation of any contact centres to a third party, then now might be a good time to review the accessibility of those contract centres and to check that your service provider is adhering to best industry practice.

See: OFCOM: Disabled customers and call centres (21 May 2010)

Security Over IP – Scots Law Stuck in the 19th Century

I read on the University of Edinburgh Law School Blog that the Scottish Law Commission is going to revisit the law on security over moveable propery, i.e. everything other than land or buildings.

This will include a review of how a lender can take security over a borrower’s Intellectual Property such as patents or copyrights.  By “security” I mean getting some right to the asset where the borrower defaults.

This is a bit of a hobby horse of mine, and I have quite a lot of experience in drafting and enforcing securities over IP.

At present the only cast iron* way for a lender to have security over IP owned by a Scottish Company, i.e. one with its registered office in Scotland, is for the lender to take ownership of the IP (with a promise to return it to the borrower when the loan is paid off).  This is consistent with the Scots law doctrine of “no security without possession”.

English law is more relaxed about security over IP – you can get pretty good security under a English law debenture. 

However, English lawyers should be aware that if the IP is owned by a Scottish Company then the debenture may not offer the required protection.   This is not just theoretical.  I have seen English lawyers fall into this trap a couple of times, and one time it was very costly. 

So if any English lawyers are reading this, and your client is taking security over a Scottish Company with significant IP assets, e.g. a Whisky company that has a lot of registered trade marks, then give me a call.

* For the law geeks out there a floating charge that includes the IP assets does give the lender some protection, but does not protect the lender against the risk of pre-crystallisation alienation of the assets by the borrower.

Twitter: @BrodiesTechBlog feed

June 2010
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