Media & technology

Government announces review of law in preparation for driverless cars
15 March, 2018

In its 2017 Industrial Strategy the Government said that it “wants to see fully self-driving cars, without a human operator, on UK roads by 2021”.

In keeping with the Government’s focus on the development and implementation of driverless technologies, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission are conducting a joint 3 year review of driving laws.

The review will consider such matters as: who is ultimately “responsible” for a driverless vehicle; how civil and criminal responsibility should be allocated when a human and a machine share control; how driverless vehicles will play a part in public transport networks; and whether new crimes will need to be created in relation to the conduct of or interference with driverless cars.

Steps already taken towards a driverless future

The Government has already committed a great deal of resources to the development of driverless cars.

The draft Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill 2017-2019 was introduced to parliament on Wednesday 18 October 2017. The Bill addresses liability for accidents, public electronic charging points, and hydrogen refuelling points.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has already highlighted existing practical barriers to the implementation of an automated vehicle network. At present local authorities are responsible for their roads, which poses challenges if automated vehicles are to rely on connectivity and universal systems across districts. A related concern is the level of broadband available; in some parts of the UK this is poor, or non existent.

Economic and other benefits of driverless cars

It is not difficult to imagine the large range of benefits that driverless cars could bring. Hailing a driverless car as and when needed (“Uber” style) might reduce the millions of parked cars which obstruct so many residential roads. Fewer parked cars would ease traffic congestion. Vehicles that communicate via a network could drive closer to one another, at greater speed, and could negate the need for traffic lights as a means of controlling traffic flows. The removal of human error would lead to greater road safety: the USA’s Eno Centre for Transportation has stated that if 90% cars were fully automated then road accidents would reduce by 80%.

In addition to these potential practical benefits, automated vehicles present an economic opportunity for the UK. The Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles produced a report last year which estimated that the global market for driverless cars and other vehicles could be £970 billion by 2035. The UK share of that market could be worth £30 – £57 billion, depending on early development and adoption.

Considering the economic benefits alone, it is clear why the Government is keen to push driverless technologies and invest resources in reviewing the laws that can help to make them an every day reality.

Grumpy Cat wins copyright case – not so grumpy anymore!
7 February, 2018

Copyright: mdorottya / 123RF Stock Photo. For legal reasons, we have not used an image of the actual Grumpy Cat.

The owner of a world famous and perpetually grumpy feline has been awarded $710,000 (£500,000) in a copyright dispute over the use of the image and name ‘Grumpy Cat’. This is the first ever recorded case where a meme has been given legal rights, and a lawyer representing the cat’s owner stated in an interview that the verdict could set a legal precedent.

 ‘Grumpy Cat Limited’ was founded by the owner of Grumpy Cat in order to promote and protect the use of the Grumpy Cat brand.

A coffee company, ‘Grenade’, were granted the right to use this brand on the drink ‘grumpuccino’ in a deal worth $150,000. A dispute arose when Grenade started using Grumpy Cat’s image to launch a whole line of products. The result was that Grumpy Cat Limited sued Grenade for trademark infringement and breach of contract. A jury in California has now ruled that Grenade exceeded their authority in the use of this right and were in copyright infringement.

The cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, became famous in around 2012 after photos of her went viral online. Rumours, which the owner has denied, suggest that the cat is now worth an estimated $100 million. So the use of this brand is potentially big money.

As this is a US case it is not binding on English judges, though it is likely to be highly persuasive in future UK copyright disputes over the use of a meme.

In the UK, the purpose of copyright law is to reward authors for the creation of original works (i.e. works the author has expended independent effort to create). Infringement of copyright can result in civil and criminal repercussions.

In light of this decision, it will be interesting to see what developments could be in store for other memes. As ever, social media is a brave new world!


If you are interested in copyright or intellectual property infringement, or would like an explanation of just who on earth Grumpy Cat is, please contact Joanna Ford at

Arsenal FC enters the cryptocurrency space with CashBet
29 January, 2018

Arsenal has signed a sponsorship deal with CashBet, a gaming company which is planning on launching an Initial Coin Offering of its new cryptocurrency CashBet Coin.

CashBet is a California-based (but Guernsey incorporated) company which develops mobile-first platforms for real-money, social, and skill based interactive gaming. CashBet’s wants to become the leader in enterprise software for the crypto-casino market and it hopes Arsenal will help it to achieve this aim.

CashBet Coin

CashBet Coin is built on the Ethereum blockchain and is designed to be used on CashBet’s mobile phone gambling apps. The coin will be advertised by Arsenal at Premier League home games giving it prominent exposure to a potential audience of many millions.

But, having in mind the huge popularity of other cryptocurrencies with gamblers of a slightly different nature, many might see this as another cryptocurrency they can attempt to invest in, rather than using it for its intended purpose.

CashBet is currently going through an Initial Coin Offering (more info on those here) of CashBet Coin and it intends to raise up to US$70m.

Cryptocurrency: Arsenal enters the unknown

The way that football clubs market themselves is vital to their performance on and off the pitch and multiple revenue streams are essential to ensure the business and the team remain competitive. Arsenal’s affiliation with CashBet is an interesting one as cryptocurrencies remain unregulated and how they will work going forward is unclear. Arsenal could be seen to be validating cryptocurrenies and CashBet specifically – if the CashBet ICO doesn’t go to plan or something else like a hacking incident occurs, this could have negative reprocussions for Arsenal and its brand.


For more information on cryptocurrencies (or Arsenal), please contact Harry Partridge at or on +44 (0)1732 224 092

For updates from us and the latest Tech news follow us on Twitter @CrippsTechLaw


A Corporate Disclosure Warning
22 January, 2018

Anyone who has been involved in a business sale will be aware of the disclosure obligation on a seller to provide purchasers with as much information about their business as possible. Buyers will want to carry out full due diligence and as a result, usually request copies of all contracts entered into by the target.


How it can go wrong


One recent case gave a useful reminder to exercise caution when carrying out this disclosure exercise. The facts can be summarised as follows:

  • Two unrelated parties (referred to as licensee and licensor below) acquired separate divisions of a business from a company that had gone into administration.
  • The licensor granted a licence to use its intellectual property rights to the licensee.
  • The licensee of IP rights disclosed a copy of a licence agreement to the future purchaser (and competitor) as part of the due diligence exercise.
  • The licence contained a specific clause that stated a breach of the confidentiality obligations contained in the licence itself constituted a non-remediable material breach.
  • The licensor then terminated the licence agreement on the grounds that the licensee had breached the confidentiality obligations contained in the licence.


The Appeal


The case reached the Court of Appeal where the licensee argued (in addition to the argument that it owned the intellectual property rights in the first place), that there was an implied term that it could disclose the licence agreement for reasonable business purposes which would include disclosure to a potential purchaser (and that consequently, there was no breach).


The Result


Unfortunately for the licensee, the Court of Appeal held that it will not imply such a term into a detailed commercial contract unless it is necessary to give the contract business efficacy or it is so obvious that it goes without saying.

The business purpose of the licence agreement was to enable the licensor to operate the business it had acquired; a share sale by the licensee’s shareholders was not a necessary business purpose for the licence. Accordingly, the implied term argued for was not necessary to give business efficacy to the licence. Nor was it so obvious as to go without saying and on the contrary, the licensor would be unlikely to have consented to disclosure to a competitor.

The case outlined above resulted from a wider set of more complicated facts and an argument surrounding what each party actually acquired from the original company in administration, but it does serve as a warning that disclosure of contracts during due diligence exercises could be problematic if they contain a right to terminate for breach of confidentiality, and disclosure of the licence itself would breach that confidentiality obligation.

Cyber-security: ICO imposes record fine on Carphone Warehouse for breach of data protection law
10 January, 2018

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has handed down a record £400,000 fine to Carphone Warehouse  (equalling the fine imposed on TalkTalk, a former Carphone Warehouse subsidiary, in 2016) for cyber-security failures which allowed unauthorised access to over 3m customer records and 1,000 employee records. 

The failures

Access was obtained via a WordPress installation, and the ICO highlighted a range of cyber-security failures which contributed to the attack’s impact. In particular, in relation to the lack of adequate:

  • Software patching and measures to check whether software updates and patches were being implemented
  • Control over credentials
  • Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing
  • Web application firewalls to monitor and filter traffic to and from web applications
  • System server antivirus technology
  • Measures to detect attacks or unauthorised entry
  • Unique server root passwords for staff
  • Identification and purging of historic data
  • Understanding of the locations of personal data on IT systems and architecture
  • Security around storage of encryption keys


The lesson

While not all of these contributed to the attack, they all represented cyber-security failures by Carphone Warehouse. In particular, although written policies dealt with many of these issues, those policies were not put in place.

The ICO has been quite vocal in regard to data protection breaches and has made it clear that the cause and type of the breach will impact the penalties it issues. For example, in relation to the substantial breach by Uber it stated: “Deliberately concealing breaches from regulators and citizens could attract higher fines for companies.”

Carphone Warehouse might consider themselves lucky to have escaped the increased fines under GDPR, but this incident should be a stark warning to companies that cyber-security is paramount, and that policies are no use if they’re not put in practice.

For more information on data protection, please contact Elliot Fry at or on +44 (0)1732 224 034

For updates from us and the latest Tech news follow us on Twitter @CrippsTechLaw

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