Update of the Romanian Trademark Law

With a delay that nearly triggered sanctions from the European Court of Justice at the request of the European Commission, Romanian legislative body fulfilled its obligation to implement the EU Directive for approximation of the trademark laws in the Member States; the law came into effect in July.

The new law includes important changes based on the directive, inter alia:

  • the definition of trademarks has been updated for the “digital age”,
  • among other clarifications and simplifications of the registration procedure, some terms have been shortened,
  • extent of trademark protection depends on description of goods/ services,
  • counterfeit goods, found on Romanian territory in transit, are now subject to possible sanctions,
  • new legal remedies on cancelation of trademarks,
  • updated list of reasons for rejecting requests for trademark registration and so on.

The directive is aimed at the modernization of the trademark law EU-wide; with its implementation, the Romanian legislation is brought to the required level. The new law introduces a more efficient registration procedure, shorter periods and extended contestation options, which overall increases the protection for existing and future trademarks. Corresponding procedure rules should also be implemented in the near future.

More information in the link below:


EU Top Court Rules Unrestrained Surveillance of Phone Data Unlawful

The European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that “general and indiscriminate transmission or retention of traffic data and location data” is banned.

The court was ruling on proceedings brought before bodies in the UK, France and Belgium dealing with these privacy and data surveillance issues.

The court found that the directive on privacy and electronic communications precludes “national legislation requiring providers of electronic communications services to carry out the general and indiscriminate transmission of traffic data and location data to the security and intelligence agencies for the purpose of safeguarding national security.”

The directive also precludes “legislative measures requiring providers of electronic communications services [and providers of access to online public communication services and hosting service providers] to carry out the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic data and location data as a preventive measure,” as these retention measures are in serious “interference” with fundamental rights guaranteed by the EU Charter.

However, where a member state is facing is a genuine and serious threat to national security, the directive does not “preclude recourse to an order requiring providers of electronic communications services to retain, generally and indiscriminately, traffic data and location data.” Provided that such an order is limited in time, is strictly necessary and is “subject to effective review either by a court or by an independent administrative body.” Strict exceptions are also made for targeted data collection on individuals believed to be involved in terrorist activities.

Finally, the court held that the directive “requires national criminal courts to disregard information and evidence obtained by means of the general and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data in breach of EU law.”

Albania passes electoral reforms in effort to start negotiations with EU

Albania’s Parliament voted on Monday to enact electoral reforms to prevent vote manipulation. In recent years, Albania’s elections have been surrounded by allegations of vote-buying and manipulation of ballot counts. These new reforms will apply to Albania’s elections coming on April 25, 2021.

The reforms most notably lowered the electoral threshold from 5 percent to 1 percent. The electoral threshold change will allow political parties to obtain representation in the legislature even if they only receive a small amount of the vote. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe recommended the changes and is responsible for monitoring elections in Albania.

In July, the EU set out the framework for Albania to negotiate into the EU. These electoral changes are a key part of starting those negotiations.

Albania agreed with the US and EU in June that any further changes should be done in consultation with out-of-parliament opposition. The US Embassy stated that, while it was within Parliament’s power to enact these reforms and it was not in violation of the June agreement, “it is regrettable that the majority failed to honor its own stated commitment to seek common ground in the Political Council.”

Switzerland voters uphold free movement agreement with EU

wiss voters upheld an accord with the EU that allows people to travel freely through Switzerland in a referendum on Sunday. While 62 percent voted in favor of keeping the accord, 38 percent voted to end it.

The referendum on the accord was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP). A conservative group, the SVP has frequently proposed and backed anti-immigration measures. The SVP and its supporters claimed that ending the accord would permit Switzerland to police its borders and determine who could and could not immigrate. They also insisted that immigration was straining public services and the environment.

Opponents to the proposal argued that it would result in an economic recession. The EU, to which all of Switzerland’s neighboring countries belong, is Switzerland’s primary trading partner. Voters also raised concerns over the status of hurt Swiss citizens living and working in EU countries. Further, opponents voiced concerns about how ending the accord would impact relations with the EU. A 2014 referendum introducing quotas, which narrowly passed, strained Swiss-EU relations. Additionally, given the fundamental nature of the free movement accord, voters worried about the status of other agreements with the EU, such as trade and research.

The SVP insisted that the EU would renegotiate the agreements if the proposal ending free movement passed. More evidence, such as the EU handling of Brexit, supported the opposite conclusion.

Bird & Bird to Close Berlin Workspace Due to COVID-19 Impact

Bird & Bird is closing its Berlin base due to the impact of COVID-19, a spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

The space, leased from a co-working provider, MindSpace, is located in Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse, near to the Brandenburg Gate.

Since the office was slated to house lawyers with business in Berlin temporarily, there are no job cuts associated with the closing of the space, according to the spokesperson.

The firm opened the base just over a year ago. It said at the time it would be used for client meetings and as a venue for conferences and events.

Bird & Bird has permanent German offices in Düsseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg.

Business Insolvency – New EU Rules

The EU is giving reputable bankrupt entrepreneurs a second chance, and making it easier for viable enterprises in financial difficulties to access preventive restructuring frameworks at an early stage to prevent insolvency.

The Council formally adopted today the directive on preventive restructuring frameworks, second chance and measures to increase the efficiency of restructuring, insolvency and discharge procedures. This decision marks the end of the legislative procedure.

The overall objective of the directive is to reduce the most significant barriers to the free flow of capital stemming from differences in member states’ restructuring and insolvency frameworks, and to enhance the rescue culture in the EU based on the principle of second chance. The new rules also aim to reduce the amount of non-performing loans (NPLs) on banks’ balance sheets and to prevent the accumulation of such NPLs in the future. In doing so, the proposal aims to strike an appropriate balance between the interests of the debtors and the creditors.

The key elements of the new rules include:

  • Early warning and access to information to help debtors detect circumstances that could give rise to a likelihood of insolvency and signal to them the need to act quickly.
  • Preventive restructuring frameworks: debtors will have access to a preventive restructuring framework that enables them to restructure, with a view to preventing insolvency and ensuring their viability, thereby protecting jobs and business activity. Those frameworks may be available also at the request of creditors and employees’ representatives.
  • Facilitating negotiations on preventive restructuring plans with the appointment, in certain cases, of a practitioner in the field of restructuring to help in drafting the plan.
  • Restructuring plans: the new rules foresee a number of elements that must be part of a plan, including a description of the economic situation, the affected parties and their classes, the terms of the plans, etc.
  • Stay of individual enforcement actions: debtors may benefit from a stay of individual enforcement actions to support the negotiations of a restructuring plan in a preventive restructuring framework. The initial duration of a stay of individual enforcement actions shall be limited to a maximum period of no more than four months.
  • Discharge of debt: over-indebted entrepreneurs will have access to at least one procedure that can lead to a full discharge of their debt after a maximum period of 3 years, under the conditions set out in the directive.

Next steps

This formal vote marks the end of the legislative process. The directive will now be formally signed and then published in the official journal. Member states will have two years (from the publication in the OJ) to implement the new provisions. However, in duly justified cases, they can ask the Commission for an additional year for implementation.


The proposal was presented by the Commission on 22 November 2016. The new rules complement the 2015 Insolvency Regulation which focuses on resolving the conflicts of jurisdiction and laws in cross-border insolvency proceedings, and ensures the recognition of insolvency-related judgments across the EU.

The European Parliament formally voted on the directive on 28 March 2019.

Setting up a Company in the EU to become easier

EU company law is being updated to reflect the digital age. The Council today adopted a directive that facilitates and promotes the use of online tools in the contacts between companies and public authorities throughout their lifecycle.

The directive will provide improved online procedures, creating a modern and safe way for businesses to dismantle the obstacles involving setting up companies, registering their branches or filing documents, especially in cross border operations.

Ana Birchall, Minister of Justice, Vice Prime Minister for the implementation of Romania’s strategic partnerships, interim

The new rules ensure that:

  • companies are able to register limited liability companies, set up new branches and file documents in the business register fully online;
  • national model templates and information on national requirements are made available online and in a language broadly understood by the majority of cross-border users;
  • rules on fees for online formalities are transparent and applied in a non-discriminatory manner;
  • fees charged for the online registration of companies do not exceed the overall costs incurred by the member state concerned;
  • the ‘once-only’ principle applies, meaning that a company will only need to submit the same information to public authorities once;
  • documents submitted by companies are stored and exchanged by national registers in machine-readable and searchable formats;
  • more information about companies is made available to all interested parties free of charge in the business registers.

At the same time, the directive sets out the necessary safeguards against fraud and abuse in online procedures, including control of the identity and legal capacity of persons setting up the company and the possibility of requiring physical presence before a competent authority. It maintains the involvement of notaries or lawyers in company law procedures as long as these procedures can be completed fully online. It also foresees exchange of information between member states on disqualified directors in order to prevent fraudulent behaviour.

The directive does not harmonise substantive requirements for setting up companies or doing business across the EU.

Baker McKenzie Named Mainland Europe’s Strongest Law Brand

Leading Global law firm Baker McKenzie has been named Europe’s strongest law brand in the 2018 Acritas Mainland Europe Index.

The Firm received an overall score of 100 – nearly 30 points ahead of the firm that ranked second place – and ranked top for awareness, favourability, top level engagement, multi-jurisdictional deals, multi-jurisdictional litigation, high value usage and inbound usage. The Firm ranked number one in France and Russia, and placed high in Germany, Spain and Italy.

Constanze Ulmer-Eilfort, Baker McKenzie’s Chair of the EMEA region, said: “To be named the top legal brand in Europe is an outstanding endorsement of the work we do and is welcome validation from the European market of the progress we have made. We’ve built our business around investing in our client relationships and innovating to stay relevant to clients so we’re delighted that commitment has been recognised by senior legal buyers across Europe.”

Ranking is based on the responses of 448 senior legal buyers, based in Mainland Europe about their organization’s overall legal needs, and a further 311 senior legal buyers about their international needs in the key jurisdictions of France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia and Spain.

Esteban Raventós, a member of the Firm’s Global Executive Committee, said: “Brands are built upon trust, and in professional services trust is built through excellent service and expertise. We’re pleased to be recognised for the depth of our practice in mainland Europe and our unique ability to deliver global perspectives and local expertise simultaneously.”

The Firm’s European ranking follows Acritas naming Baker McKenzie the strongest global law firm brand in its Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index for the ninth year in a row. In the global survey, the Firm ranked at the top for each of the measures in the Acritas Index – awareness, favourability, consideration for multijurisdictional deals and for multijurisdictional litigation.

EU court advisor sides with Airbnb against French restrictions

The European Court of Justice Advocate General submitted an opinion Tuesday siding with Airbnb in a case challenging strict French rules.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Paris France filed an indictment for infringement of Hoguet law (real estate law) concerning real estate agents against Airbnb Ireland. Airbnb Ireland denies acting as a real estate agent and the Court of Justice agreed. The opinion found that Airbnb services fall within the scope of “information society services.” The AG rejected that the Irish company would be covered by the nation’s Hoguet Law because there was not proper notification of the intention to apply French law to the Irish company.

In a press release accompanying the opinion the court said that the AG found that Airbnb is a “service consisting in connecting potential guests with hosts offering short-term accommodation, via a electronic portal, in a situation in which the provider of that service does not exercise control over the essential procedures for the provision of those services, constitutes an information society service.”

The opinion is not binding on the court, but is likely to be adopted.

ECJ rules EU and Canada trade agreement follows EU laws

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU follows EU laws. The court decision was requested by Belgium and was focused on the section of CETA that concerns resolution of investment disputes between investors and states.

CETA will establish a Investment Court System (ICS) to handle disputes between investors and states. The system will include a Tribunal, an Appellate Tribunal, and a multilateral investment tribunal. The Tribunal will include 15 members: five from Canada, five from EU member states and five from third countries.

Belgium filed the request for a decision from the ECJ because the ECJ has exclusive jurisdiction over the definitive interpretation of EU law. The ECJ found that CETA did not violate this principle as long as the CETA Tribunals do not attempt to interpret EU laws.

Belgium was also concerned that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism would violate the EU’s principle of equal treatment in regards to treatment of a suit raised by a Canadian investor against an EU enterprise. The ECJ found that the equal treatment provision is not violated for a non-EU investor making a suit against an EU member state. The ECJ also found that EU law permits annulment of a fine by an EU member state if the CETA Tribunal finds a defect.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights also gives the right of access to an independent tribunal, which Belgium believed may be violated by the establishment of the CETA Tribunal. The concern was based on the fees and costs associated with the Tribunal which may make it difficult for small enterprises to bring a claim. The Commission has committed to providing co-financing for small and medium-sized entities before the Tribunal. The ECJ found these commitments to be sufficient to meet EU law.