e-Signatures – legally binding on companies?

The rise of e-signing software such as docuSign (e-signature) has become commonplace for the execution of contracts electronically.  Each state of Australia and the Commonwealth has its own equivalent to the Electronic Transactions Act 2001 (Qld) (ETA).  The use of E-signatures has streamlined the contract execution process, however a recent case in the Supreme Court of South Australia has highlighted their vulnerability.  The decision of Stanley J in Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited v Kenneth Ross Pickard [2019] SASC 123 (Adelaide Bank) is illustrative of this. [Read more…]

Proposed standards for online safety

In December 2019, the Australian Government released a discussion paper on a proposed “Online Safety Act” (Proposal) for consultation.  The Proposal is intended to combine and coordinate the existing framework into a single piece of legislation, and provide an update in accordance with the changes in the digital landscape.  The Proposal will encourage businesses trading online to take more responsibility for material on their platforms. [Read more…]

Tort of conspiracy & confidential information

The tort of conspiracy has been well established in Australia by the High Court, however it is a fairly uncommon cause of action.  The High Court has endorsed some early UK decisions with respect to damage, including the cases of Mogul Steamship Co v McGregor Gow & Co [1892] and Sorrel v Smith [1925] AC 700.  [Read more…]

The end of the innovation patent in Australia

The innovation patent system was originally introduced in 2001 to provide a cheaper, more efficient way for small to medium businesses to protect innovations through the introduction of the ‘innovative step’ test.  Innovation patents provide protection for inventions that do not meet the inventive step threshold required for standard patents.  However, the recent Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Bill 2019 (Bill) will see the complete abolition of the innovation patent system in Australia. [Read more…]

Software litigation – how much evidence is enough?

Litigation involving software commonly involves allegations of copyright infringement and breaches of contractual obligations of confidence.  However, without an “anton pillar” style order, it can be challenging to substantiate the extent of any alleged breach due to the technological nuances involved with properly analysing available evidence.   This make it difficult for the plaintiff to decide whether or not to initiate legal proceedings against an infringing party.  In circumstances where a prospective applicant does not have complete access to the source code, it may be desirable to make an application for discovery prior to the start of proceedings pursuant to Rule 7.23 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth) (Rules). [Read more…]

Has my software been copied? – the legal test

There is an urban myth that something can be copied and changed by 20% or so and then there is no copyright infringement.   Rightly or wrongly this is simply untrue.  In the case of IPC Global Pty Ltd v Pavetest Pty Ltd (No 3) [2017] FCA 82 (IPC Global), a former employee of the applicant copied source code and passed it to a developer.  It was subsequently alleged that in doing so, the respondent had breached a contractual obligation of confidence and had also breached the applicant’s copyright. [Read more…]

A bet or a game? The Lottoland case

On 16 August 2019, the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Supreme Court) ruled in favour of the plaintiff, Lottoland Australia Pty Ltd ACN 602 590 429 (Lottoland), in its action against the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for their investigative findings against them stating their online products were in contravention of the relevant legislation: Lottoland Australia Pty Ltd v Australian Communications and Media Authority [2019] NSWSC 1041. [Read more…]

Confusing marks – Sensis v Senses

In the recent case of Sensis Pty Ltd v Senses Direct Mail and Fulfillment Pty Ltd [2019] FCA 719 (24 May 2019) (Sensis v Senses) the moral of the story might be that if your brand name is so similar to another company that your customers could confuse or are confusing their name with yours… you might be in trouble.  This was the case in Sensis v Senses where Senses Direct Mail and Fulfillment Pty Ltd (Respondent) was held to have infringed the registered marks of Sensis Pty Ltd (Applicant) owner of well-known directory brands, including the Yellow Pages and White Pages. [Read more…]

Contractual terms can be misleading – Jetstar under fire

Businesses often make broad sweeping statements, in their agreements and particularly in the terms and conditions of sale presented on their websites purporting to exclude consumer’s rights to warranties, guarantees or remedies.  In reality, such declarations can amount to a breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) which recently occurred in relation to Jetstar. [Read more…]

Technology startups – top 5 legal considerations

The allure of generating income from a subscription base, operating a marketplace or your own e-commerce venture is strong and for good reason.   The success stories of tech startups and the unicorns in this space are many, but so are the failures.  If this is the path you are considering taking, these are our top 5 legal considerations. [Read more…]

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