Technology

Technology continues to change in terms of what is available and how we want to use and interact with it.

This change undoubtedly brings significant benefit in the way businesses can operate and how they interact with their customers. Equally there are many potential pitfalls including security, different geographic laws, protection of intellectual property and data that need to be addressed.

Our Technology Team is nationally recognised for the quality of its advice and its sector understanding and expertise when assisting businesses in dealing with their IT requirements. Whether it is advising a supplier or a customer, the team will be able to assist you on not only identifying potential problems but also in finding the best way of over coming them. A number of our lawyers have spent much of their careers in the IT sector and so are able to offer pragmatic, cost-effective solutions for any project.

Work handled includes advising on software, hardware, maintenance and support contracts, escrow, cloud solutions and NFC (near field communication) agreements. We also work closely with a number of organisations on prepayment, smart meter and online payment and processing systems.

We have commissioned research on technology within retail. Click here to download the full report for more insight into the shopping landscape of the future, the challenges that retailers and tech suppliers face, and the solutions that will enable them to unlock success.

We are running a series of roundtable discussions addressing issues affecting in-house legal teams. Click here to findout more.

Specialisms

News

The National Living Wage: Rising Costs Raising Concerns

For the past couple of months, many minimum-wage workers have enjoyed a little extra in their pay cheques.

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Face-Recognition Technology: Its Uses and Dangers

Ever-increasing levels of competition and consumer demands call for more clever ways to mine behaviour. Given that facial-recognition software allows for the effortless collection of customer data, its adoption is no surprise. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Computer Science Corp found that almost thirty per cent of UK retailers are already using the technology.

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The Rise of Retail Start-Up Incubators

When it comes to improving the in-store experience, industry watchers are describing an unprecedented amount of support and investment from retailers. Both established and plucky IT suppliers are generally the go-to for solving their technology problems. More recently, however, large chain retailers are supporting the effort by launching incubators and accelerators.

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Retail and the Price of Oil

The remarkable decline in the price of oil has had a huge impact on aspects of the global economy ranging from manufacturing and transport costs to the price we pay for our food. Despite discussions among OPEC members about addressing price levels, the price is still more than 50 per cent below where it was in June 2014.

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Spending Patterns and the New £30 Contactless Limit

Following an adjustment to the upper limit on contactless card transactions from £20 to £30 last September, transactions between £20 and £30 have grown nearly 20 per cent, and transactions below £20 have grown even more. Indeed, 36 million contactless payments have been executed since then to the tune of £900 million.

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Retail Technology Trends of 2016

Staying on top of ever-advancing technology is not easy for retailers, and it’s often not cheap. But there are numerous ways to innovate. So how are retailers creating unique experiences?

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A Brief Overview of What Innovation Means in Retail

For those coming to the retail landscape with fresh eyes, a sensible place to start is with an understanding of where retailers are trying to effect change. Where are the stalwarts of retail lending their energies, or at least watching closely, to give them an edge? In other words, what’s new?

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Is it time to upgrade digital content laws?

Commercial analysis: Microsoft was recently criticised for its design of a pop-up encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 10.

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Beacon Technology: Slow to Take Off

Since Apple first announced its foray into beacon technology back in 2013, the expectation was for a revolution in the way that retailers engage with shoppers. By 2014, however, less than one per cent of US stores employed the technology despite its promise for increased revenue.

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Mind your step - technology to tackle counterfeit crime

Stewart James, Partner in the Commercial Team at Ashfords LLP, takes a look at how retailers can use technology to tackle counterfeit crime.

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The Landscape of Popular Retail Apps

Certain retail apps prove hugely successful while others are found wanting in terms of ease of use and an intuitive user interface. Evidence suggests that, at least amongst millennials, apps are downloaded predominantly because the corresponding mobile website is not as easy to use as the app.

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The Future of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality ("VR") has been hailed as the next big thing before, but following Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of start-up Oculus, known for its Oculus Rift VR headset, industry analysts’ predictions that thirty million headsets per year are expected to ship by 2020 seem rather more grounded in (non-virtual) reality.

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The Changing Role of the Retail Salesperson

It’s news to precisely no one that the competition faced by physical stores from online retailers is intensifying. To retain their share of shoppers, bricks and mortar businesses must necessarily evolve.

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The "EU-US Privacy Shield" a first step to replacing the "EU-US Safe Harbor"

Since the "EU-US Safe Harbor" framework was declared invalid by the CJEU back in October, representatives from the US Department of Commerce, the US Federal Trade Commission and the EU Commission have been locked in negotiations.

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Could our data be stored underwater in the future?

Microsoft has successfully completed a 105-day trial of an underwater data centre in an initiative called Project Natick.

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The Risks of Underperforming Retail Technology

Given an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, retailers are necessarily leveraging the latest technology both in-store and online.

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What’s Next in Retail Technology?

In 2014, a full forty per cent of consumers in PwC’s annual consumer survey declared that they purchase goods from a physical store once a week.

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Where are Virtual Currencies Headed?

In the face of their increasing prevalence, virtual currencies have taken centre stage in debates about transparency and financial inclusion. Bitcoin, as the best-known example, has inspired the launch of many imitators.

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The Evolution of Contactless Payments

The remarkable growth in the volume and value of contactless payments across the European Union is the most obvious evidence of an evolving payments ecosystem.

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Integrating Online and Offline Retail

Flying somewhat in the face of conventional wisdom that an online presence is the be-all and end-all, evidence points to the market expecting not only some form of offline presence from retailers but a smooth integration of the consumer’s online and offline experiences to boot.

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Tech in Retail - More collaboration urgently needed

Ashfords LLP research reveals data security threats and the need for innovation drives the demand for closer relationships with tech suppliers.

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China's stock market crisis - What impact for technology companies?

The Chinese stock market is falling after years of sustained growth and there are wide concerns that a transition to a slower pace of growth may be disruptive to markets throughout the world. Yesterday's panic saw China's worst trading day since 2007.

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The end is nigh in Agile!

Agile projects need to be flexible through to their termination, in a way that is fair to both supplier and client.

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Demystifying the government's Digital Marketplace - which Digital Services framework should suppliers be applying to?

There is a big opportunity not to be missed for suppliers to provide public sector bodies with more competitively priced cloud services.

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Cybercrime happens - deal with it!

Cybercrime and its consequences has gained a higher profile in the public consciousness after events like the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox hack at Christmas. The scope for cybercrime is also increasing as more products become connected to the internet. For instance, a German motoring association recently identified that certain BMWs could be unlocked remotely over the mobile phone network.

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When is a database not a database?

Databases receive protection by virtue of the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (Regulations) as a copyright work. However, following the decision in Ryanair Ltd v PR Aviation BV, Case C-30/14, 15 January 2015 it may be possible for the creator of a 'database' to protect a work where it is not covered by the Regulations.

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CES 2015: The year of connected devices, from clothes to cars

Technology Lawyer Jenny Hotchin finds that connectivity, driverless technology and sports and fitness wearables are the buzz trends at this year's CES.

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Cloudsourcing - do you understand the legal complexities of next-generation outsourcing?

Changes are expected in procurement, contract and governance processes - understand them to avoid getting locked in.

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G-Cloud 6 - tips from a tech lawyer

For the past couple of years two platforms have been in operation to facilitate and encourage the public sector to purchase digital services. CloudStore provided the marketplace for services falling under the G-Cloud Framework (G-Cloud) and the Digital Services Store provided the marketplace for services under the Digital Services Framework.

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Driverless cars are coming to Bristol – but are our current security laws ready for them?

Bristol is a city at the forefront of technology and innovation so there is no surprise that it is hoping to be one of the cities to host a trial of driverless cars which could be on the road by as early as January 2015.

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Employ robust and comprehensive practices to stay on top of security threats and cyber crime

Jenny Hotchin, solicitor in the Technology Team, explores the issues surrounding increasing levels cyber crime.

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Google Glass vs. Microsoft's smart headband: battle of the wearables

Stewart James considers the impact of wearable technology and the recently published Microsofts "smart" headband in Information Age online.

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UK Smart Meter deal

Ashfords have recently advised Sensus on its agreement with Arqiva for the roll out of smart meters to over 10,000,000 users in the North of the UK.

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Artificial Intelligence and the Role of the Salesperson

There was a bit of a to-do back in 2013 as the press speculated on the potential for robotics, powered by artificial intelligence ("AI"), to replace human salespeople. Three years down the line, are robots any closer to performing customer service and sales tasks?

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Eurozone Retail in Flux

Following a promising start to 2016’s eurozone sales figures, growth is now slowing and economists were expressing concern – before the Brexit vote results – about the effect on an already choppy global economy.

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Speed to Market and Modern Expectations

In retail, the time it takes to get items on the shelf matters. Consumers look for the newest products, and each retailer wants to stock them first. Speed to market, however, means something different depending on product category and the retailer’s reach.

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Applying Technology and Partnerships to the Benefit of Retail

It has nearly become a truism that shoppers expect greater flexibility and product choices, as well as consistent levels of stock and responsive customer service. Such expectations now define the consumer mindset, as illustrated by the fact that 86% of consumers would rather spend more to get a better shopping experience. Many of these same shoppers expect prices to be lower and response times to be quicker. How to keep up?

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Surviving in an Online World: Is There a Place for Physical Stores?

First the digital revolution took our DVDs, then it decimated our newspapers, and now it is after our most beloved shops. It’s actually a good thing depending on your perspective.

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Omni-channel Trends Changing the Shopping Experience

As modern expectations become the norm with customers expecting to shop and communicate with retailers at their convenience, many brands are necessarily rethinking their marketing strategy with a focus on omni-channel integration.

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Contactless Technology and Security

With a mere tap of one’s card on a terminal, contactless credit and debit cards let us make payments of up to £30 without so much as a PIN.

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Harnessing Beacons to Engage with Shoppers

Back in 2014, online trendspotter InfoWorld predicted that widespread adoption of beacon technology by major retailers was imminent. Beacon software was celebrated for its ability to connect to our smartphones and tablets so retailers could market to us directly and launch a new level of interactive retail experience.

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Crowdsourcing in Retail

Best known among crowdsourcing platforms is the mighty Wikipedia, the number 7 Alexa ranked encyclopaedia, but crowdfunding, ultimately a subset of crowdsourcing that involves garnering money from participants, has been tapped by platforms like Seedrs and Crowdcube to give life to thousands of ideas.

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The Evolution of Retail

Using enthusiastic floor staff to woo them and exciting displays to wow them is at the heart of retailing to customers.

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Managing the Try In-store, Buy Online Phenomenon

By now retailers are well aware that shoppers try on items in-store with a view to buying them later online. Similarly popular is the concept of showrooming whereby customers browse the shop but use their smartphones to find cheaper substitutes elsewhere.

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The Rise of Innovation Partnerships

When US retail giant Target announced last year that it was partnering up with a well-known start-up accelerator, it was making a claim for embracing technology – not merely as an add-on but as the way forward.

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How is Big Data Changing Retail?

Big data can seem like a slippery term, but research out of the McKinsey Global Institute has cited its rather concrete potential to increase retailers’ operating margins by 60 per cent. By now, its utility is unquestioned (at least when properly exploited), but its use poses new risks both to the businesses seeking to unlock its promise and to the individuals whose information is being harvested – namely all of us.

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The Push and Pull Between Data and Privacy

The promise of big data carries with it levels of personalisation and problem-solving that were not envisioned by the general populace even a few short decades ago.

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Drones that Deliver

As we become accustomed to ever-higher levels of convenience, major retailers including Amazon and, more recently, Argos, are offering next-day and same-day delivery. The demand is there, however, for even faster delivery. Enter the drones.

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Beacons and Privacy

In a retail context, beacons are essentially Bluetooth transmitters that communicate with an authorised app when the device housing that app is within the vicinity.

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The Emergence of Beacon Technology

When a shopper arrives at their location – a store, a mall foyer, a commercial square – beacons use Bluetooth technology to alert an app or website on the shopper’s smartphone.

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A Primer on Omni-Channel Marketing

Omni-channel marketing, or simply omni-channel, refers to a holistic or integrated approach to companies’ engagement with their customers.

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Technology and Compliance in Retail

Questions of compliance must be addressed without losing sight of sustainable, profitable and scalable business practices. To meet even higher modern standards of compliance, retailers are turning to technology to ensure they are on top of stock management, health and safety, and the supply chain.

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The Shopping Seasons

Even while maintaining the spirit of the season, it’s impossible to ignore the sheer amount of footfall on the high street as shoppers find something appropriate to put a bow on. Savvy retailers know that Christmas represents merely one of the calendar’s opportunities for outsized sales. Let’s take a quick look at the others.

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How can departments make the most of cloud technology?

The Government's "Cloud First" agenda has led to a rise in the number of public sector organisations embracing public cloud services. Civil Service World recently held a round table lunch bringing together a number of civil servants and technology experts working with the UK public sector to discuss the merits of this policy.

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Retail and Technology - Where worlds collide

Gone are the days when buying something involved simply going to the shop, browsing the available products, paying by cheque or cash and then taking them home to enjoy.

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Does the law need to develop faster to keep up with changes in technology?

From Apple watches to Google driverless cars, exciting new technologies are being developed at an astonishing rate.

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Tech in Retail - wedded to contactless payment

The limit on contactless payments has just been raised to £30. However, the results of our survey show that retailers think that the limit should actually have been raised to £40 - £50.

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Cost-effective ways to shield SMEs from cybercrime

The consequences of cybercrime attacks on SMEs are wide reaching, from obvious financial repercussions to severe damage to reputation: so how you protect yourself without breaking the bank?

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Why IT Contracts Fail

Customer's often have template agreements that they use for purchasing a variety of goods and services. However, suppliers should be careful to ensure the terms are appropriate for the provision of software, which raises a distinctly different set of issues from the purchase of other goods and services.

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Uber wins High Court case

The UK High Court has ruled that Uber, the minicab-hailing app, does not break the law.

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Driverless cars: What is the law, and where will they fit into it?

Britain's first driverless car was revealed in Milton Keynes last month. Full public trials of the cars are to begin on pedestrian areas of four cities in 2017 as part of a £19m plan to develop autonomous vehicles.

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Agile as a disruptive technology

Do you understand how risk transfers in an Agile contract?

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What price Agile? How to establish the right pricing model

Intelligent use of commercial project pricing models can help build trust and encourage use of Agile, says tech lawyer Stewart James.

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Agile development: overcoming the legal barriers

Agile is not new – Agile has been used for the development of software long before the Agile manifesto was created over 14 years ago. Major Software and IT Services (SITS) companies, financial services business and government departments are all interested in using Agile for their major development programmes.

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Death of the wallet? Biometrics and wearables are next steps in payments innovation

Jenny Hotchin predicts that BLE and biometrics-based payment solutions will become more commonplace in 2015.

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Hot Topic: Wearables

Ashfords Garry Mackay, partner in the Commercial and Technology Team and joint CEO, comments on the opportunities and challenges which have been presented through wearable technology.

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Cybercrime

The Queen's speech on Wednesday, 4 June set out the government's legislative programme for its remaining term in office. One of the bills introduced is the Serious Crime Bill, which will provide new measures primarily intended to disrupt serious and organised crime.

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Securing customer details online - What every business needs to know

In light of the recent eBay cyber attack and theft of customer information, Ashfords' Jenny Hotchin looks at what businesses can do to stay protected providing four practical steps which all business should consider.

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Smart Phone Truce

Last December Mark Lomas' article "When the chips are down" looked at the Nokia vs HTC patent litigation and focused on some of the lessons that flowed from Nokia's application for an injunction against the HTC One Mini handset in the Patents Court in the UK. It now appears that the judgement has concentrated commercial minds afresh and the parties have looked at and opted for an alternative to ongoing litigation.

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London Technology Week 2014: Why the capital is the best place to grow tech start-ups

With London's first Technology Week in full flow, Ashfords' partner and joint CEO Garry Mackay discusses how the UK capital is developing as an ideal locality for technology and business growth.

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