This Week's Techlaw News Round-up

UK government issues response to call for views on Standard Essential Patents and innovation, CMA decides to proceed with investigation into collection and use of advertising data by Meta, BEIS issues order under National Security and Investment Act 2021 and more in this week’s round-up of UK and EU techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

UK government issues response to call for views on Standard Essential Patents and Innovation

The UK government published a call for views on Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and innovation in December last year. The purpose of the call for views was to gather evidence on whether the ecosystem around SEPs is functioning efficiently and effectively and strikes the right balance for all entities involved. The government says that the responses provided valuable evidence and data, and various issues were raised. Given the breadth of issues raised and the divergence of the views on whether there is a case for government intervention, the IPO has decided that it will require a further period to assess the issues and, as appropriate, consider the merits of the proposals submitted.

CMA decides to proceed with investigation into collection and use of advertising data by Meta (formerly Facebook)

The Competition and Markets Authority has announced that it will proceed with its ongoing investigation into suspected breaches of the Chapter II prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 by Meta (formerly Facebook). The CMA started the investigation in 2021. It relates to Facebook’s conduct in relation to the collection and/or use of data in the context of providing online advertising services and its single sign-on function and about whether this leads to a competitive advantage over downstream competitors. Now that the CMA has decided that it will continue with the investigation, it will be carrying out information gathering, analysis and review. This will last until autumn 2022.

BEIS issues order under National Security and Investment Act 2021

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has issued a final order under the National Security and Investment Act 2021. The order prevents, on national security grounds, the acquisition by Chinese technology company Beijing Infinite Vision Technology Company of certain intellectually property from the University of Manchester. This is the first time that the UK government has called in a transaction under the Act. The Act came into force on 4 January 2022, establishing a new standalone regime for screening M&A deals and other transactions with connection to the UK on national security grounds.

Former health adviser found guilty of illegally accessing patient records

A former health adviser has been found guilty of accessing medical records of patients without a valid legal reason. He had been working at the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust when he unlawfully accessed the records of 14 patients, who were known personally to him, between June and December 2019. He did so without a valid business reason and without the knowledge of the Trust. One of the victims said the breach left them worried and anxious about him having access to their health records, with another victim saying the breach put them off from going to their doctor. He pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining personal data in breach of section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018 when he appeared at Coventry Magistrates’ Court on 3 August 2022. He was ordered to pay £250 compensation to 12 patients, totalling £3,000.

CAT overturns CMA decision to fine Compare the Market for competition law breach

The CMA has had a decision overturned by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The CMA had found that, between 1 December 2015 and 1 December 2017, BGL infringed competition law by using wide “most favoured nation” clauses in its contracts with a number of home insurance providers selling through its price comparison website, ComparetheMarket. These clauses prohibited the relevant insurers from offering lower prices on rival price comparison websites. The CMA imposed a financial penalty of £17,910,062 on BGL for the infringements. BGL appealed. The CAT has now handed down a judgment in which it has upheld the appeal brought by BGL and set aside the CMA's decision, agreeing with BGL on all but one of its grounds of appeal.

Defamation law reform in Scotland takes effect

The Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Act 2021 has come into force this week. The Act followed a report by the Scottish Law Commission. It makes important changes to defamation law in Scotland. This includes provisions affecting social media platforms and other online intermediaries, which are referred to in the Act as “electronic secondary publishers”. As long as their involvement does not materially increase the harm caused by a statement’s publication, the Act provides that they are not liable for defamation if their involvement is only to republish a statement in a way that does not alter it or provide a means of access to a statement. Similarly, social media users will not be liable if they only indicate their interest, approval or disapproval with a statement, and do not alter it.

Published: 2022-08-12T11:20:00

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