Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 13/09/2021

The week’s news included; Google fined $177m by antitrust regulator, Netflix sued by chess icon over The Queen’s Gambit, Canada Goose fined $71k for false advertising, 4 New Square chambers wins judgement against “persons unknown”.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram Page, for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Opinion articles of the week: 

  • Sky News – Why are UK businesses being hit by shortages at the moment?
  • Retail Gazette – How are department stores taking aim at Gen Z shoppers?
  • City A.M. – Technology could save our ailing healthcare systems – if only we can trust it

1. CARBON DIOXIDE CRISIS

The UK government is in talks with energy companies and meat processing companies over a shortage of carbon dioxide. Costs of natural gas have soared meaning CO2 producers have been slowing or stopping production as a result. The rising costs are due to a global shortage in supply along with increased demand in Asia.

This has a significant knock-on effect for many industries, particularly on energy firms and food producers. The rise in wholesale natural gas prices mean suppliers are unable to provide the energy customers are paid for. Some firms are expected to go bankrupt within the next few weeks and are calling on bigger firms to step in. Food processing companies rely on CO2 to stun animals prior to slaughter. Ocado has already said it will not be delivering any frozen food due to a shortage of dry ice. There are concerns that the shortage could lead to empty shelves at Christmas. The government is now holding crisis talks with energy suppliers and food producers to find a solution.

2. UK RELAXES TRAVEL RULES

The UK travel industry is breathing a sigh of relief as England’s travel rules relax from 4 October. The traffic light system will end and there will now only be “red list” countries. Returning from a red list country will require 10-day quarantine in a government approved hotel, costing £2,285 for a single adult. Any country not on the red list will be clear for travel. Double vaccinated people travelling from such countries to England will not need to take a pre-departure test. From the end of October, double vaccinated people will no longer require a day-two PCR test and will simply need a lateral flow test. The changes apply to England only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate rules.

3. GOOGLE FINED IN SOUTH KOREA

Google has been hit with a $177 million fine in South Korea for abusing its market dominance. The tech giant prohibited phone makers from using customised versions of its Android operating system. Korea’s antitrust regulator ruled that this unlawfully restricted competition in the operating system sector. Google will now be prohibited from forcing manufacturers to sign the restrictive contracts that prohibit customised versions of its operating system.

South Korea had already cracked down on Google earlier this month. The nation prohibited app store operators from preventing app developers from circumventing their payments’ systems.  This issue was sparked by Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple and Google over this issue.

4. NETFLIX SUED OVER THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

Netflix is being sued for defamation by chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili. Gaprindashvili claims she was falsely portrayed in Netflix’s hit series The Queen’s Gambit. Based on the 1983 fictional novel by Walter Tevis, the series follows the story of a fictional American chess player, Beth Harmon, who rises to the top of the chess world against all odds. In one scene, the series made reference to Gaprindashvili and claimed she never played competitive chess against men, unlike the supposedly trailblazing series protagonist. Gaprindashvili, now 80 years old and still competing competitively in chess tournaments, claims this is false. The legal filing explains that by 1968, she had faced at least 59 men. The case was filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles. Netflix says it has “the utmost respect” for Gaprindashvili but argued that the case has no merit and that they will defend the case.

5. JP MORGAN TO OPEN RETAIL BANK

JP Morgan is launching its highly anticipated digital retail bank this week. Chase bank will offer current accounts and will operate exclusively through a mobile app. This marks the first international expansion of JP Morgan’s retail arm in its 222-year history. Chase faces steep competition from the likes of Monzo, Starling and Revolut as well as traditional brick and mortar banks. Morgan Stanley launched its own retail bank “Marcus” in 2018 and it was a resounding success. The bank was doing so well it had to stop taking new customers to prevent breaching ringfencing rules. JP Morgan will no doubt seek to replicate this success with Chase.

6. CANADA GOOSE FINED  

Canada Goose has been fined $71,000 in China over its claims its coats are made from “the warmest material from Hutterite”. Hutterite is a region in North America where Canada Goose sources feathers for its jackets. China’s regulator found that its coats are made mostly of other materials. This advert, therefore, constituted false advertising and breached Chinese advertising law.  Canada Goose already faced lawsuits in the US over false advertising. The retailer claimed its clothing was ethically and responsibly sourced. In 2017 however, it emerged Canada Goose’s suppliers used cruel and brutal methods to trap animals to use in its fur. It was held earlier this year that Canada Goose’s statement may have been misleading.

7. RED BULL THREATENS GIN MAKER

Norwich based gin maker, Bullards, is facing a trademark lawsuit from Red Bull over the use of the word “bull” in its name. Bullards had sought to trademark its name with the UK Intellectual Property Office but faced opposition from Red Bull. Red Bull has said there was a likelihood of consumer confusion between its brand and Bullards on a number of products. They sent a letter to Bullards requesting they remove a number of products and services from their trademark applications, including for events and non-alcoholic beverages. Bullards has said it will fight the action and described Red Bull’s threat as “ludicrous”. They are willing to go to court to settle the dispute rather than spend thousands of pounds to remove the specified goods and services and concede to Red Bull. Bullards was founded in 1837 and was taken over by Watneys in 1963.

8. 4 NEW SQUARE SECURES JUDGEMENT AGAINST HACKERS

Barristers’ chambers 4 New Square was cyber-attacked by hackers and secured a judgement in default against “persons unknown”. The hackers sought to extort the chambers by stealing information. They sent an email to the chamber, and this is the only information the chamber has on the hackers. Based on this, the judge issued a final injunction and judgement in default against the hackers to hand over any information they have and prohibited them from using or sharing the information.  Claimants can seek an injunction against “a person or persons unknown” if they are working to identify the persons and aim to do so by the time of the final injunction.

9. ASOS AND PRIMARK SET GREEN PLEDGES

Last week, Asos and Primark made new sustainability pledges as criticism grows against fast fashion. Primark has said all its clothes will be made using recycled or “more sustainably sourced materials” by 2030. Primark clothes will be made more durable so they can be recycled, and the store will also slash carbon emissions by 50% by this date. The retailer will also seek to improve wages for workers in its supply chain. Asos on the other hand is aiming for net-zero environmental impact by 2030. It will also make clothes from recycled or sustainable materials, and it will provide more information on its supply chain.

Both companies have come under fire both for supply chain workers’ conditions and environmental issues. Primark did not specify how or where it will improve conditions but claimed it will “pursue a living wage”. There is also a big question mark of what is considered “sustainable”. Many argue there is no such thing as sustainable fashion as the carbon cost of producing “sustainable” clothing is negligibly different from standard clothing. Furthermore, full transparency about supply chains is still rare, particularly in fast fashion so the veracity of these “sustainable” claims cannot be verified.

10. MANCHESTER UNITED REVENUE

Manchester United’s balance sheet was buoyed by a huge 81% increase in broadcasting revenue, mitigating the impact of the pandemic. In the year to 30 June, the club made £254.8m in broadcasting revenue. Match day revenues understandably sank by over 90% to jus £7.1m. Despite the positive broadcasting revenue total revenue was still down £494.1m. Furthermore, United posted a net loss of £92.2 million. The club has brought several big signings including club legend Cristiano Ronaldo in a €23 million deal. Football clubs are benefiting from the return of full stadiums and growing returns on broadcasting rights.

Leave a Reply