A leading Victorian intellectual property small law firm.
Stephens Lawyers & Consultants is a specialist boutique commercial legal practice, emphasising expertise in intellectual property, competition and consumer law, media & entertainment and defamation law, technology/biotechnology, franchising and international trade law.
Stephens Lawyers is committed to understanding the client’s needs from a practical, commercial as well as legal perspective and delivering strategic and cost effective legal advice. Every client has direct access to a principal of the firm, who understand the complexities of operating a business in today’s commercial environment.
“The competitive global economy in the technology areas has led to intellectual property owned by individuals and corporations becoming a major capital asset. The value of the technology, which is the subject of intellectual property laws, is important for the future development of the Asia Pacific region.”
Extract from a paper presented by Julian Stephens at the Lawasia Conference, Beijing, China.
1. Peter Divitcos, Lawyer, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, has co-authored an article on the amendments to Australia’s defamation laws which commence in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia on 1 July 2021. Peter’s article “Defamation Law in Australia in the internet age: How defamation law is changing for internet publications” has been published in the latest edition of LexisNexis’s Internet Law Bulletin. Congratulations Peter.
2. ACCC Targeting Scams Report – On 7 June 2021, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) released its ‘Targeting scams- report of the ACCC on scam activity 2020′ which shows that Australian businesses and individuals have lost record amounts to scams during 2020, as people spend more time online as a result of Covid restrictions and lockdowns. The report reveals that $851 million have been lost by scam victims in 2020, with more than one third of total reported losses resulting from investment scams (with $328 million) and reported payment redirection scams being the most financially damaging for Australian businesses (with over $128 million in losses). The ACCC provides a range of useful scam-related information and resources for business on the Scamwatch website (at scamwatch.gov.au ). Detected scams can also be reported on the Scamwatch website.
3. Crown Melbourne Royal Commission Terms of Reference now published (Feb 2021) – The Victorian Government’s Royal Commission inquiry into Crown Melbourne and Suitable Associates will focus on the suitability of Crown Melbourne to hold a licence under the Casino Control Act and whether Crown Melbourne is complying with contracts under the Casino Control Act and applicable laws. The inquiry will also look at Crown Resorts and other existing associates of Crown Melbourne and whether these persons are suitable to be involved in the management of a casino. The Crown Melbourne inquiry follows the recently completed Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants – involving Lawyer X. Stephens Lawyers & Consultants represented a number of witnesses before the Lawyer X Royal Commission and made submissions on their behalf.
4. Katarina Klaric, Principal, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, was a host and facilitator at the FCA Legal Symposium 2020 Roundtable Sessions on 19 November 2020, on the topic of ‘Strategies for Protecting IP and Maximising Value’.
5. Peter Divitcos, Lawyer, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants, has been awarded the 2020 Paul Trisley Award for his paper ‘Match-Fixing in Sport: A Coordinated, Targeted and Comprehensive Network of Actors”. Peter’s article will be included in the next volume of the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association Journal. Congratulations Peter.
6. Our Response to COVID-19 – Stephens Lawyers & Consultants’ are continuing to provide legal services in the areas of our expertise including: commercial/consumer law and litigation, intellectual property law, information technology law, biotechnology; franchising, media/defamation and privacy law. We are also providing legal and commercial advice to businesses which have been impacted by the COVID-19 through contract postponement, cancellations or business shut downs – and we can also assist businesses to re-negotiate their financial arrangements with their banks or financial institutions and to obtain access to various government relief packages.
7. As a creative outlet, Katarina Klaric has completed a number of film and TV courses at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne and writes, directs and produces her own short films. In March 2020, Lawyers Weekly published its interview with Katarina about Katarina’s latest short film “Dogged Truth“ – a dramedy about the criminal justice system and its transgression from the pursuit of truth to theatrics. [Read the Lawyers Weekly Article]
8. Katarina Klaric was a guest speaker at The Einstein Global Summit 2019 held in Melbourne on 8-9 May 2019. Katarina presented a paper on the topic of “Addressing Intellectual Property, Governance and Privacy Issues in Artificial Intelligence”.
9. Katarina Klaric was an invited guest at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (‘WIPO’) Roundtable Discussion held in Melbourne on 5 April, 2019. WIPO is a United Nations agency based in Geneva, Switzerland, which provides a global forum for its 191 member states for the development and implementation of international intellectual property policy and legal frameworks. The roundtable discussions included an overview of WIPO’s Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) focused research with the publication of the “WIPO Technology Trends 2019 Artificial Intelligence Report“ [ https://www.wipo.int/tech_trends/en/artificial_intelligence/ ] and the development of WIPO’s new artificial intelligence (AI) tools for searching and monitoring of potentially similar trade marks on a global basis, translation of documents and voice recognition.
10. Julian Stephens was again a mentor in the 2019 University of Melbourne Law School Mentor Program (the ‘MLS Mentor Program’) and has been involved in the University of Melbourne’s mentoring program since 2017.
11. Katarina Klaric is a Member of Information Governance ANZ, which has been established to be an Australian and New Zealand think tank for information governance with the aim of promoting information governance global best practice and innovation.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation
The Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”) provides consumers with rights and remedies against suppliers (including on-line retailers) and manufacturers of goods or services acquired by them that do not comply with consumer guarantees. As from the 1 July 2021, more individuals and businesses will be considered to be “consumers” having the benefit of “consumer guarantees” under the Australian Consumer Law, with the threshold amount paid or payable in respect of good or services increasing from $40,000 to $100,000. This legal update is a timely reminder of the serious legal and other consequences which may arise from a failure to comply with the ACL and provides guidance on what a business can do to minimise the risk of contravention of the ACL relating to consumer guarantees. [Read more]
Marketing and advertising campaigns often use songs, music and other creative works and elements which may be protected by intellectual property laws and require a licence from copyright and other intellectual property owners. To minimise the risk of costly disputes involving marketing campaigns and intellectual property rights, every marketing campaign should be carefully considered at planning stage and prior to launch to ensure that all required licences and clearances have been secured and that intellectual property rights are protected. [Read more]
In February 2021 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’), the agency responsible for enforcement of competition, consumer and product safety laws in Australia issued its 2021 Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Priorities. The ACCC’s focus is again on product safety consumer protection and competition issues, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Read more]
Knowing the advertising laws that apply to the marketing and advertising of a particular product or services is critical to avoid breaches resulting in fines and court proceedings. The recent case of Lorna Jane “Anti-virus Activewear” advertising and marketing campaign provides an example of how an advertising campaign may result in an alleged breach of not only the Australian Consumer Law but also the Therapeutic Goods Act. [Read more]
A review of Australia’s Privacy Act 1988 was announced on 12 December 2019. While submissions have now closed, the submissions received by the Attorney General in response to the Review of the Privacy Act 1988 Issues Paper have been published and can be accessed on the Attorney General’s website. [Read more]
In January 2021, the Privacy Commissioner issued her first determination under the Privacy Act in relation to a class members complaint involving over 9,000 individuals. The Determination provides insight as to the approach that the Privacy Commissioner may take in determining claims involving a privacy breach involving personal data of a large number of individuals where a representative complaint is lodged. [Read more]
Recent awards of damages by courts for on-line defamation continue to serve as a warning to all using the internet that care must be taken to ensure that there is a factual basis for what is published. In Rush v Nationwide News Pty Limited (No 7)  the Federal Court rejected the Respondent’s justification defence on the basis of lack of credibility of its principal witness and failure to corroborate the principal witness’ evidence, resulting in actor Geoffrey Rush being awarded almost $2.9 million in damages – including $850,000 for non-economic loss including aggravated damages – a damages award which was upheld on appeal by the Full Federal Court. [Read more]
All marketing and advertising must comply with The Australian Consumer Law, which prohibits content which is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive or contains false representations in respect of the products or services being advertised. In addition, there are industry, product or audience specific laws, codes and standards which apply. Changes in community standards along with the need to protect groups which are vulnerable to exploitative marketing campaigns has resulted in the introduction of new codes and standards. [Read more].
Standard form contracts are being subjected to increased scrutiny for unfair contract terms by regulators. On-line terms and conditions are of particular concern because consumers are often given no choice but to accept onerous or unfair terms if they wish to proceed with the purchase of goods or services. In this update, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants discuss some recent ACCC enforcement proceedings in respect of unfair contract terms and offer some strategies for minimising the risk of terms being declared unfair and unenforceable. [Read More]
Business models for distribution and supply of goods or services through retail stores or on-line market places may provide significant benefits where manufacturers or suppliers can control marketing, promotion and pricing. These business models require careful scrutiny to avoid the risk of breaching Australia’s competition law, which prohibits anti-competitive conduct including resale price maintenance. Strategies for risk management are discussed in this Stephens Lawyers & Consultants Update on Competition Law [Read More]
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has published its Notifiable Data Breaches Report for the period 1 January to 30 June 2020. Stephens Lawyers & Consultants’ Privacy Risk Management: Data Protection and Privacy Compliance Information Sheet provides an update and summary of some key findings and statistics in this Report. Whilst there is no single solution for the protection of privacy data, there are steps which organisations can take to minimise the risk and harm of privacy data breaches. [Read more]
Businesses utilising electronic marketing communications that are linked to Australia must ensure their electronic communications comply with the Australian Spam Act 2003 to avoid significant penalties and court action. In this article, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants offers risk management strategies for compliance with the Spam Act and to minimise the risk of infringement. [Read more]
Recent cases show that interlocutory injunctions can be successfully applied for to remove defamatory material and to restrain an injurious falsehood. [Read more]
Confidential Information/Trade secrets are the most valuable assets of many organisations and this data is potentially exposed to greater risk of unauthorised access, disclosure or use, with employees working remotely and using video conferencing services. Remote workplaces also give rise to increased security risks associated with privacy breaches. This article offers steps for consideration by agencies and organisations which use video conferencing, to help them manage and minimise the risk of data security breach and to protect their confidential information/trade secrets and ensure compliance with privacy laws. [Read more]
Businesses should be aware that competition and consumer laws still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ACCC will be prioritising its focus on the competition and consumer issues of most relevance arising from the impact of COVID-19. The ACCC has established a COVID-19 Taskforce focusing on early intervention to address immediate problems being faced by consumers and to communicate directly with businesses and inform them about their obligations in relation to cancellations, refunds and suspension of services as a result of the pandemic. [Read more]
The Australian privacy law provides for an individual affected by a data privacy breach to seek compensation from the organisation involved in the breach. In this article, Stephens Lawyers & Consultants also provides a review and summary of the compensation awarded in determinations made during the years 2016-30 June 2020 by the Office of the Australian Information Privacy Commissioner in relation to privacy breaches and some of the factors taken into account by the Privacy Commissioner in awarding compensation and costs. [Read more]
A strong business reputation is crucial in today’s online and social media environment. A good on-line business reputation can affect the bottom line of a business. So it makes good business sense to take steps to maintain and protect your good, strong business reputation. [Read more]
Businesses using AI computer systems or technology to generate literary or artistic works such as reports, directories or other compilations, databases, computer software, digital images, designs or plans, are at risk of not having copyright protection. Copyright material is a valuable asset of a business. However, businesses may not be able claim and enforce copyright protection in such material where human authorship of that material cannot be established, particularly if it has been generated using AI technology. [Read more]
The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law (‘ACL’) cannot be excluded, modified or restricted and are in addition to any manufacturer’s or supplier’s warranty. The ACL provides consumers with rights and remedies against suppliers (including on-line retailers) and manufacturers of goods or services acquired by them that do not comply with consumer guarantees. Is your business compliant? [Read more…]
Companies using cloud services, without proper due diligence including the legal review of the terms and conditions of the cloud services agreements and risk management are potentially putting at risk their intellectual property (“IP”) and also risk losing control of their data and content. It is important that businesses understand the risks and benefits of cloud based services and have proper processes and systems to manage the potential risks. [Read more…]