Your commercial news round-up: Northern Ireland protocol, mortgages, Tesco v Lidl, Adidas v Nike, Google lawsuit

updated on 16 June 2022

Reading time: three minutes

Temperatures are heating up, quite literally, this week. News that the UK is going to be hotter than Hawaii, the Sahara and Turkey this Friday has rippled across most news outlets but as temperatures soar, how are you staying in the know with this week’s commercial news?

Grab that ice cream and sit down with LawCareers.Net’s commercial news round-up for a summary of our pick of the news from the past week. What’s on your radar?

  • The UK is facing legal action following its failure to administer full border checks for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain. The European Commission has relaunched its previously paused legal action against the UK over the Northern Ireland protocol, giving the UK two months to respond.

Earlier this week, the UK government published legislation that overrides the original protocol put in place to govern Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements. The European Commission said the move is “illegal” before adding that “the UK bill is extremely damaging to mutual trust and respect between EU and UK. It has created deep uncertainty.” The UK’s failure to respond to the legal action within two months could see the European Commission take the matter to the Court of Justice.

  • UK mortgage arrears hit the highest level since 2010, amounting to £2.05 billion worth of mortgage debt delinquent at the end of quarter one, according to tax and advisory firm Mazars. Household finances are under increasing pressure as interest rates continue to rise amid the cost of living crisis, resulting in families falling behind on mortgage payments.

Speaking to CITY A.M, Matthew Carter, partner at Mazars, said: “As the cost of living crisis evolves, UK mortgage lenders are now seeing arrears start to build. People will typically make a lot of sacrifices to meet their mortgage payments but these figures indicate that things are starting to get worse for some families.” Carter added that this could just be the “beginning of the problems” within the market.

  • Tesco is facing copyright claims over its Tesco Clubcard Prices logo. Discount supermarket Lidl has accused Tesco of riding “on the coattails” of its reputation as a discounter, claiming that the logo is too similar to its own. Tesco described the allegation as “a figment of Lidl’s legal imagination” and explained that it’s “strongly defending the claims” before refusing to comment further. Tesco’s Clubcard Prices scheme was introduced in 2019, the logo for which is a yellow circle on a blue square with text on top.
  • Sportswear giant Nike is also under fire, with rival Adidas accusing the company of “knowingly and intentionally” infringing nine of its patents, including a “location-aware fitness training device” and “intelligent footwear systems”. Adidas filed this complaint in a federal court in Texas earlier in June, claiming that Nike’s Nike Run Club and Training Club, SNKRS, and Nike Adapt apps are infringing the technology used in its various apps. Adidas says that it “has long had a culture of innovation, research and development,” and as part of its goals “to innovate and change sports through technology, [it] has made continuous investments in sports science, sensor technology, wearables and digital communication platforms.” Nike is yet to comment on the “pending litigation”.
  • Google has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with a payment of £96 million, following allegations that it underpaid 15,500 of its women employees. A third-party administrator will be involved in paying the £96 million to the 15,500 women, if the court approves the settlement. Google also plans to appoint an independent labour economist to analyse its pay practices to ensure equal pay between workers who are doing substantially similar work.

A lawsuit was originally filed against Google by four former Google employees in 2017, claiming that the tech giant had violated California labour laws. One of the ex-employees involved in filing the lawsuit, ex-tech worker Holly Pease, said: “As a woman who’s spent her entire career in the tech industry, I’m optimistic that the actions Google has agreed to take as part of this settlement will ensure more equity for women.”

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