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The increased use of social media in the advertising arena continues to accelerate the move towards digital advertising, and escalates the globalization of marketing campaigns and the potential target audience, allowing firms with a global footprint to excel in the area. The prominence of social media in marketing has also brought an increase in privacy-related matters and Telephone Consumer Protection Act issues, which are increasingly cropping up in matters involving text and social media advertisements and direct messaging.

The renewed focus on the Lanham Act seen in 2015 sustained throughout 2016, with the number of false advertising claims continuing to rise across a spread of sectors. Challenges before the NAD and other regulatory bodies also remained prominent, as did consumer class actions. Particularly active sectors included pharmaceuticals, media, and food and drink. The high-profile and precedent-setting Pom Wonderful vs Coca Cola case ended in early 2016.

Several interesting trends occurred in the cyber law space during 2016. Firstly, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Spokeo v Robins decided that consumers must demonstrate real harm caused as a result of a personal data breach, which essentially closed the door on many class action claims against companies that handle large quantities of consumer data and that have been subject to a cyber attack.

Secondly, the rise of ransomware attacks and the growing use of virtual currency has led to an increased awareness of blockchain technology and a greater need on the part of law firms to have the required expertise and resources in this space. Thirdly, many clients are being advised on compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect in May 2018 and impacts the transfer of personal data and breach notification requirements.

Another trend in 2016 was an aggressive approach from the government in relation to regulatory investigations, especially in the healthcare sector, where penalties have increased significantly. Meanwhile, the technology sector demonstrated a willingness to push back on government requests for data; it will be interesting to see how this plays out under the new administration. Covington & Burling LLP, DLA Piper LLP (US), Hogan Lovells US LLP, Hunton & Williams LLP, and Ropes & Gray LLP continue to have the leading cyber law practices.

While the traditional elements such as film, television and music are still the cornerstones of most media and entertainment practices, the impact of new technologies and the digital era has brought an increased focus on virtual reality, gaming, social media and personalized content to practice groups operating in this area. On the corporate side, mergers and joint ventures between entertainment companies are prominent, with the high-profile creation of Amblin Partners - a joint venture between DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One - being a particularly notable example. Foreign investment into Hollywood also makes up a substantial proportion of work for firms, with particular interest from China and the Middle East; intellectual property and First Amendment issues are also prominent in the media and entertainment space. Talent work is notable on the West Coast, especially in the music and film sectors.

The outsourcing market was strong overall in 2016, with trends showing a migration away from typical business processing outsourcings to ‘as a service’ type offerings that involve the convergence of data, cloud and analytics as well as, increasingly, blockchain technology. The outsourcing of only back-office functions is no more, and law firms also reported a rise in innovative customer-facing outsourcing transactions, particularly in the financial, hospitality and retail sectors.

In addition, cloud computing is becoming more sophisticated and is no longer used just for business-critical functions. Since the new administration took over, an anti-offshoring trend has emerged, with a greater emphasis on -and need for-domestic providers. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Mayer Brown, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP stand out as the dominant forces in the field.

With strong demand for technology businesses from domestic and international corporations and private buyers, total value for technology M&A deals in 2016 reached $323bn. Especially hot areas were software, cloud, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT), while semiconductors and IT services also showed robust activity levels.

For many law firms, technology transactions practices sit alongside technology outsourcing and IP groups, while other firms see it more as a part of a broader private equity, M&A, finance and capital markets practice. Many key people and practice leaders are based in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but firms often also have strong people in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington DC.

Headline movement in the technology transactions market included Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati hiring Daniel Glazer in New York from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, where he co-led the technology transactions and emerging companies groups in New York and London; Goodwin recruiting Silicon Valley’s M&A expert Michael Russell from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; and White & Case LLP hiring Silicon Valley-based global technology M&A specialist Jason Tomita from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Consolidation continues to dominate the telecoms market, with several multibillion-dollar mergers and the opposition to said mergers generating a significant amount of work for the majority of firms. The increased interest of private equity companies in the field is also changing the direction of many firms’ work, a trend expected to increase with anticipated pro-business changes from the new administration focusing on reduced regulation. Other areas of focus include cyber law, privacy issues and telecoms infrastructure matters, alongside an increased emphasis on IoT mandates and over-the-top content.

The new chairman at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, promises to bring a shake-up to the telecoms arena, particularly in the areas of net neutrality and open internet, which have created much debate over the past few years; Pai is a vocal opponent of the FCC’s Title II net neutrality rules. During 2016, open internet matters remained prominent throughout many firms’ practices, as did the FCC’s broadcast incentive spectrum auction, with the majority of firms taking part in one form or another. This has brought a substantial amount of work to both transactional and regulatory practices.

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  • Bär & Karrer Advises CEVA Logistics on its IPO, the anchor investment by CMA CGM and its migration

    CEVA Logistics, one of the world's leading third-party logistics companies, successfully priced its IPO and listed its shares on the SIX Swiss Exchange, where trading commenced on 4 May 2018. With a market capitalization of CHF 1.6 billion and generating gross proceeds of CHF 821 million, this is so far considered as the largest IPO on the SIX Swiss Exchange for 2018. In addition, CMA CGM, the third largest container shipping group in the world, has committed to make a strategic cornerstone investment in CEVA Logistics by purchasing CHF 379 million of mandatory convertible securities which will convert into shares of CEVA Logistics once certain regulatory approvals have been obtained. Simultaneously with the IPO, CEVA Holdings, the former holding company of the CEVA group, migrated from the Marshall Islands to Switzerland by way of a cross-border merger with CEVA Logistic as the surviving company.
  • BAG: Employer not liable for harm caused by vaccine

    Employers who have flu vaccines administered within their company are not liable for any harm that might occur as a result of the vaccine. That was the verdict of the Bundesarbeitsgericht (BAG), Germany’s Federal Labour Court, in a recent ruling.
  • Tax Update

    Cyprus Tax Department has announced that, as of June 1 st 2018 , the following taxes, not bearing interest and charges, can ONLY be paid via JCCsmart (website www.jccsmart.com.cy ) . JCCsmart is a Cyprus portal used to contact payments to various organizations including the Government. This measure follows the successful implementation of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax withheld from employees through JCCsmart.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises on the Financing of the Largest Thermoelectric Plant in Latin America

    Centrais Elétricas de Sergipe S.A. (CELSE) has successfully issued bonds for approx. USD 1 billion equivalent in local currency at a fixed, long-term rate in international capital markets. The innovative bond issue is guaranteed by the Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV), the export credit agency of Switzerland. The bonds are part of a financial package to finance the development, design, construction, operation and maintenance of a thermoelectric power plant by CELSE in the state of Sergipe in the northeast region of Brazil. Besides the bond issue for approx. USD 1 billion, the transaction includes a USD 200 million loan from the International Finance Corporation and a financial package of the Inter-American Development Bank in the amount of approx. USD 300 million. Once operational expected for in 2020, CELSE will sell electricity to 26 distribution companies in Brazil, becoming the largest and most efficient thermoelectric plant in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • BAG: Threats made by employee can justify dismissal with immediate effect

    Employers do not have to accept threats made by employees. These can constitute good cause justifying extraordinary notice of dismissal with immediate effect, as demonstrated by a ruling of the Bundesarbeitsgericht (BAG), Germany’s Federal Labour Court.
  • SyCipLaw is Tier 1 Firm in IP STARS 2018 Rankings

    SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (SyCipLaw) was once again ranked by Managing IP’s IP STARS 2018 as a Tier 1 firm in Patent and Trademarks/Copyright in the Philippines. In addition, SyCipLaw partners Enrique T. Manuel and Vida M. Panganiban-Alindogan are ranked as Trade mark star – Philippines . Mr. Manuel is also ranked as Patent star – Philippines .
  • Bär & Karrer Advises lastminute.com on Partial Self-Tender Offer

    On 21 September 2017, an extraordinary shareholders' meeting of the SIX Swiss Exchange listed lastminute.com N.V. authorized the board of directors to repurchase up to 33 1/3% of the company's share capital by means of a partial self-tender offer. The resolution adopted under Dutch law contained detailed information, among others regarding the period for which the authorization is granted, the manner in which the shares are repurchased and the price range within which the offer price must be set.
  • New Serbian Law on Foreigners Adopted

    In March 2018, the new Serbian Law on Foreigners was adopted, replacing the 2008 version of this law- in force until recently without any amendments. The new law will enter into force on 3 October 2018.
  • The Serbian Law on Foreign Exchange Amended

    On 20 April 2018, the amendments to the Law on Foreign Exchange (the “Law ”) were adopted and will enter into force on 28 April 2018 . Exceptionally, the application of certain provisions related to the assuming of competencies over foreign exchange control by the National Bank of Serbia is delayed until 1 January 2019.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises Vyaire Medical on its Acquisition of Acutronic Medical Systems

    Vyaire Medical, Inc., a global leader in respiratory care, acquired all shares in the Acutronic Medical Systems group, a Switzerland and Germany-based leader in the design and manufacture of neonatal ventilation equipment.