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It seems there’s never a dull moment in IP law as singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran reaches a milestone in his ‘Shape of You’ court case, plus inflation continues to rise, Primark moves online (kind of), Kellogg breaks up and 5G is on the move. Find out more in this week’s commercial news round-up – what’s been on your radar this week?
- Following a recent Supreme Court ruling, telecoms firms can now more easily install 5G infrastructure in the UK. The ruling, which provides telecom firms with the right to upgrade existing phone masts if they are unable to consensually attain permission from landowners, comes on the back of a sequence of long-running disputes between phone mast operator Cornerstone and various landowners. This development supports the government’s plans to make the UK into a “global leader in 5G” and has been described a “triumph for technology”.
- Home rental costs in the UK have risen by 2.8% in the year to May, according to the Office for National Statistics – this jump is the largest it’s ever seen, since its records began in January 2016. Private rental prices in London have increased by 1.5% across the same period, with the average recorded rent for a month being £1,450. Meanwhile, England saw average monthly rent hit the highest ever recorded at £795 between April 2021 and March 2022.
The increase comes as inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May, with the rising cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages among the main drivers.
- US food manufacturing favourite Kellogg is set to split into three independent companies; one that will see it maintain its snacking business, another focusing on cereals and the third on plant-based food. Shares in the US company, despite rising nearly 8% in pre-marking trading, closed at just 1.9% on Tuesday. While acknowledging the difficult conditions, Steve Cahillane, Kellogg’s chair and chief executive, told the Financial Times that they “believe the agility and the focus will help the business operate in a tumultuous time” with the division expected to “unlock the full potential of our business”. The strategy means that the food manufacturer, which makes around $2.4 billion in net sales, will no longer compete for capital with snack brands like Pringles.
- Primark is due to trial a new click-and-collect service from 25 of its shops in the northwest of England. The high street retailer was hit hard during the pandemic having never before offered such a service, with retail analyst Catherin Shuttleworth explaining that “covid showed the risk of having a store-only estate”. The trial will see 2,000 goods that are part of the retailer’s children’s range be made available for click-and-collect. However, there are no wider plans to expand the service to the rest of the retailer’s products. “What you will never see is the entire Primark range available for click-and-collect, nor any of it available for home delivery”, explained George Weston, the chief executive of Associated British Foods, Primark’s parent company.
- More than £900,000 in legal fees have been awarded to Ed Sheeran and the co-writers of his hit ‘Shape of You’, following copyright allegations that were deemed “baseless”. A High Court judge previously ruled that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” ripped off a hook with his “Oh I” section in ‘Shape of You’ from a 2015 track called ‘Oh Why’ by Sami Switch. It has since been ruled that songwriters Switch and Ross O’Donoghue, who brought the claim, should pay the legal fees of £916,200 – an amount that is due to be assessed and finalised at another hearing.
You can find out more about copyright law and the music industry in this Commercial Question from DWF Group Plc ‘Copycats and coincidences’ which explores whether copyright law is “stifling creativity in the music sector”.
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