The week’s news included; Aldi wins trademark case against Thatchers, Palworld facing Pokemon lawsuit, Florida to ban U16’s from social media, Netflix’s password sharing crackdown pays off.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our X page, Facebook page, TikTok 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: 

  • BBC News – Should AI play an ever-growing role in tackling crime?
  • City A.M. – Why Rolls-Royce has bucked London Stock Exchange trend after value more than trebles.
  • CNBC – How the Apple iPhone became one of the best-selling products of all time
  • City A.M. – Mind the cyber skills gap – or the UK will fall short of its tech potential

1. ALDI WINS TRADEMARK CASE AGAINST THATCHERS

A court has found that Aldi has not infringed on Thatchers’ trademark cider. Thatchers claimed that Aldi copied its cloudy lemon cider with its own Taurus cider. Thatchers claimed it copied it in appearance and taste. The court even conducted a taste test. Aldi claimed that all lemon drinks bear a similar appearance so this could not constitute a trademark infringement. The court found there was no risk of confusion between the brands. Thatchers did not indicate that they would appeal. Aldi is also locked in a legal battle with M&S. It is appealing the High Court decision that infringed on M&S’s trademark festive gin. The case will now go to the Court of Appeal.

2. VODAFONE-THREE MERGER INVESTIGATED

Vodafone and Three’s £15 billion merger is to be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The deal reduces the UK’s main players in the mobile network space from four to three. The CMA will consider how this deal will impact competition and consumers. Unite union believes it will harm market competitiveness and see costs for consumers rise by over £25 per month. Vodafone and Three combined would serve 27 million UK customers and would be the largest in the country. The pair will have an uphill struggle as the regulator already struck down another mega-merger attempt by Three. Three sought to merge with O2 in 2016 but this was opposed by the CMA.

3. PALWORLD FACING POKEMON LAWSUIT

A new online multiplayer game, Palworld, could face legal action from Pokémon for copyright infringement. Many users describe Palworld as Pokémon with guns. Players collect mythical creatures and the similarities between the two are stark. This page highlights the similarities between Palworld and Pokémon creatures (link). Palworld has just released its early access version of the game and has received positive reviews. Pokémon said it is investigating whether there has been a copyright infringement.

4. FLORIDA TO BAN U16’S FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

Lawmakers in Florida are advancing a bill that would ban under 16’s from social media. This would force social media firms to conduct age verification on all users. Companies would also be obliged to delete accounts currently held by under-16’s. The bill passed the Florida house of representatives and now heads to the senate. Lawmakers say this is to help combat addiction to social media and exposure to harmful content. The rules would apply to any platform that “utilises addictive, harmful, or deceptive design features”, or any other feature that is designed to encourage excessive use of the social media platform. This covers most main platforms that have been engineered to cause addiction. The US state of Utah also plans to ban under 18’s from social media without parental consent and has usage time restrictions. Other states are also targeting social media sites. These moves could prove pivotal in the future of social media sites in the US.  

5. AMAZON FINED FOR EXCESSIVE STAFF SURVEILLANCE 

Amazon has been hit with a €32 million fine in France for excessive surveillance on its warehouse staff. The tech giant was found to track workers activity using handheld scanners and workers had to explain each break they took. Breaks of between one and ten minutes were logged and then logged again after 10 minutes. All data was stored for at least 31 days. The French data watchdog, the CNIL, said these practices amongst others were breaches of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Amazon said all its measures were for safety and efficiency and were in line with industry standards. Amazon has said it will appeal the decision.

6. APPLE TO ALLOW ALTERNATIVE APP STORES

Apple is set to allow alternative app stores on Apple devices in the EU. The new EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) obliges Apple, and other major players like Google, to give users greater flexibility to choose alternative services. After four years, Fortnite will now return to iPhone. The game pulled out of the App Store in 2020 amid a dispute over Apple’s fees and restrictions. Apple charged app developers 30% commission for in game app purchases and blocked alternative app stores on devices. Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite won its case against Apple that its charges were uncompetitive BBC News looks closer at the case.

7. HIDDEN CHARGES TO BE BANNED

Hidden charges are set to be banned in the UK under the new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. The bill will ban the practice of showing an initial price online for products or services then revealing additional fees at the checkout. This practice, also known as drip pricing, costs customers an estimated £2 billion per year. Now, all obligatory fees must be included from the start. Cinemas, airlines and railway ticket companies are common offenders and will now need to amend their practices when the Bill comes into effect. Under the Bill, fake reviews will also be banned. It is hoped these measures will improve price transparency for consumers.

8. REDDIT IPO

Reddit is planning to launch a $1 billion IPO in March. The social media platform will float about 10% of its shares. It had confidentially filed for an IPO in 2021 but held off floating due to volatile markets. The company was also striving towards profitability and this contributed to its decision to delay its IPO. Despite this, Reddit is yet to turn a profit. Revenue however, is expected to be up by 20% for 2023 at $800 million. Reddit valued at $10 billion and would be the first major social media IPO since Pinterest’s in 2019.  

9. NETFLIX’S CHANGES PAY OFF

Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing is paying dividends. Over 13 million new subscribers signed up in the last quarter of 2023. This is the largest quarterly subscriber growth since 2020. Netflix also introduced an ads plan for cheaper than the standard rate, bringing in fresh revenue streams. In the UK, the ads plan costs just £4.99 per month compared to the £9.99 ad-free standard plan. The streaming giant has said it is looking to raise prices further to help balance its books. 

Netflix had always staunchly opposed ads on its platform but its model was not sustainable. The company had been buoyed by rapid user growth for years. But as this started to decline the company had to better monetise existing users and seek new ways to attract new ones. Its recent clampdown on password sharing and introduction of ads certainly received backlash. However, the gamble appears to have paid off.  This comes as Netflix struck a deal with WWE Raw. From 2025, the wrestling entertainment programme will air exclusively on Netflix.

10. JOE LEWIS PLEADS GUILTY

Billionaire Joe Lewis has pleaded guilty to insider trading in the US. The 86-year-old and his family trust own Tottenham Hotspur FC. For 8 years until 2021, Lewis gave sensitive information about his company to friends, romantic partners, pilots and other staff. This information helped his associates collectively make millions of dollars. For example, he told a partner to invest in a biotech company which he knew was about to release positive clinical trial results. Ultimately, that trade alone made $849,000 in profit. Lewis is worth £5 billion and is the 39th richest person in the UK. The charges he faces carry a maximum prison sentence of 45 years. In line with federal guidelines however, he is more likely to face just 2 years.