Record penalties for Trade Practices Act non-compliance

Once more the dire consequences of breach of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) ("Act") have been made clear. This time with record penalties, injunctive orders and compliance orders imposed by the Federal Court of Australia.

Today Australian billionaire, Richard Pratt, his company and two of his senior executives were all found responsible to various degrees for breaches of the Act in the corrugated fibreboard packaging products market in Australia. The penalties require Visy to pay A$36 million, and two executives to respectively pay A$1.5 milion and A$500,000.

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When is a distribution agreement not a franchise?

The regulation of franchise agreements in Australia is vastly more restrictive than for licence or distribution agreements. There are dire consequences if an agreement unintentionally crosses the line to become a franchise in the eyes of the law.

Until now there's been little common law to distinguish franchise agreements from other similar arrangements. We now have a case, the Federal Court decision of ACCC v Kyloe Pty Ltd [2007] FCA 1522 decided on 18 October 2007. It turns on its facts. It's not an extended thesis on the distinction. The takeaway is obtain advice to stay on the right side of the line.

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Open APIs and market dynamics defined

The concept of market dynamics comes from economics. In a flat world market dynamics takes place internationally. In a networked world market dynamics change at a blistering pace. These are knowns. What about unknows?

How do you stay in touch, stay ahead or catch up in your business? How do you then reposition and refresh your strategy for new challenges when the horizon changes unpredictably, and suddenly? Sunrise and sunset on the net don't arrive in neat 24 hour blocks.

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Australia's national innovation policy, ho hum

Are you yarning yet? You will if you read Knowledge + Innovation + Wealth. It's by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA). On the other hand, it may be the paper is a realistic mirroring of the sleepy state of innovation policy in Australia.

If you fell into a coma in 1997 and came out in 2007 you'd find little improvement in the policy. Most positive changes in innovation policy developmentat at the Local, State or Federal level seem to have been reactions to developments elsewhere or abroad rather than proactive.

There's been some positive changes in Australia. Laws and tax rates for venture capital have improved. There's been cultural changes, more people energised and focused on business than decades before. There's increased online availability of information resources. There is  even more interest in commercialisation than ever before in Australia.

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IP strategy for R&D: people first

This is an article on IP strategy for R&D. In long hand that's intellectual property (IP) strategy for research and development (R&D).

People differ in their interests, personality and skills. This leads them to selecting different educational and career paths. These facts should prompt all managers to customise the way they manage individuals in the workplace.

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User generated content and copyright monopolies

Google is remaking what's OK and what's not under copyright law.

The use of search engines (see table below) has a domino affect. People use search engines and then copy found content elsewhere to create what is now known as "user generated content". That's not a technical phrase. The phrase certainly means little in the context of copyright law. There's bound to be more court cases about it sometime soon.

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Reducing obstacles for collaboration formation

Going solo in business is easier in some ways than doing business in a collaboration. Collaboration requires alignment of the ambitions, agendas and styles of two or more individuals, companies or organisations. This can be more work than it's worth.

However, doing business in collaboration is generally easier, and a whole lot more profitable, than battling solo.

Our focus here is on practical advice for collaboration formation. Do that well and you will reduce subsequent obstacles to develop, grow or exit from a collaboration.

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Feedback for Lightbult in the blogsphere

Jimi Hendrix, the master of feedback would have appreciated hyperlinks. On the internet, and especially in blogs, a hyperlink can be feedback. In recent months our site has enjoyed more hyperlink feedback than ever before. Time to express thanks.

Thanks to Bootstrapper. Our post, Four tasks to increase values or prices in business transactions, is included in its The 100 Best Business Finance Posts of All Time.

The naming and branding agency, Igor International, likes our post titled Generate great trade marks to register.

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Fashion retailing online - lore and law

Guess which Christian Dior store location earned by mid-2006 more revenue than any other? It's http://www.dior.com. It's the kind of news that turns fashion business lore into pure myth.

There is growing evidence that fashion businesses should re-think traditional beliefs about where and how consumers buy. Ensure you read the yellow highlighted sentences below.

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Beware of Google bearing copyright tips

Google (the owner of YouTube) has just announced the release of a beta version of a video filtering tool. It has named it YouTube Video Identification. This supports Google's corporate copyright law compliance (and survival against legal threats).

It is also another step towards protecting content owners whose copyright work is uploaded into YouTube without permission and then copied over, in virus-like fashion, to innumerable other sites. It's a massive problem for audio-visual content owners. For many of them YouTube is a punk, not a new kid on the block.

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Retailers desperately seeking digital strategists

Australian retailers need strategies for changing times. They need to innovate or reinvent themselves to adapt to the digital wave.

This article reflects on two book industry innovation stories 100 years apart, the establishment of Cole's Book Arcade and the Lonely Planet publishing house.

It is inspired by our recent work advising retailers re-inventing themselves, comparison shopping websites and product marketing and distribution e-commerce websites. It's about the opportunity to capture a higher business sale valuation by establishing an effective presence online.

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iPhone customer lock-in class action

On 5 October 2007 a small two partner New York law firm, Folkenflik & McGerity, filed a class action Complaint in a court in California against Apple, Inc and AT&T Mobility, LCC.

The Complaint seeks direct, consequential and punitive damages totalling US$1.2 billion.

On 10 October a press release announced the action's website. This is all in keeping with the firm's statement on its main website that "The firm makes extensive use of new technologies to leverage its manpower and to develop cost-effective approaches to its cases."

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A whirlpool of legal risk

We’ve blogged about the dangers of loose lips in online forums before. For example,  a woman who made an anomymous post or comment in an online forum was tracked down by Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith. He regarded the post as defamatory and extracted an apology plus a significant portion of his legal fees.

From a recent case of forum comment litigation, perhaps the most notable takeaway is the plaintiff's realisation of the awesome power of the court. We don't have in mind the Supreme Court of Queensland where the case was instituted; rather, the court of public opinion.

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Advertising is not the only game online

If you were to believe the loose talk about advertiser-supported online business models you'd think it was the only game in town. The loose talk oversimplifies the undeniable fact that advertising is both increasingly creative and dominant online, but it's a long way from being the only game online. To quote Albert Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

At the July 2007 Future of Media conference in Sydney someone on stage (who should have known better) said "only porn or financial data works on a user-paid basis". Err, wrong.

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Practical Rap: Drafting IT Contracts With Foresight

Lessons lie buried in IT history for improving IT contracts, especially software contracts.

The key for discovering the lessons is to look for patterns of change. We argue a three stage pattern emerges from IT history. The pattern repeats over and over in IT history in the last six decades. Awareness of the pattern helps to improve contract strategy and draft more effective IT contracts.

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