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Where do you belong? The mysteries of Prespes for businesses.

By | News

Article by Andreas Papamimikos at Voria.gr for the problems caused by the agreement with Fyrom for Greek businesses

The “Prespes Agreement” and in general foreign policy agreements and major national issues cannot be judges solely on the basis of bidding and auction. Besides, it has been shown many times in the past that these approaches are ineffective and more importantly, divisive and can cause damage to the country.

These agreements must always be judged with composure and realism and, above all, must be considered on the basis of their results. In this context, the conclusion on this agreement is that instead of addressing issues, on the contrary it creates new short-term and long-term problems for the country and its interests. Mainly, I believe that it does not guarantee the most important thing, which is the elimination of irredentism.

I will not attempt a comprehensive approach to the problems raised by the agreement at this point. They have been recorded. However, I will focus on the fact that it causes a series of problems in the everyday lives of citizens adding more problems to the operation of businesses; problems that will soon materialize. I refer to magnitude of the impact of the Greece – Skopje agreement on the trade names, trademarks and the businesses under the name “Macedonia”. In Article 3 paragraph 8 of Part I, the agreement provides for the establishment of an international panel of experts to be set up within 2019 which will complete its work within three years, regulating the framework of intellectual property rights between the two countries, while the use of these rights will remain unaffected until then.

In this blurred landscape, the Foreign Ministry’s General Secretary of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ioannis Brachos, who is in charge of the technical team from the Greek side and will regulate the issues of the bilateral economic relations, participated in an event which was held at Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBETH) with the co-organization of Association of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) and the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEVE) for the issue of “Economic Diplomacy Actions 2017-2018” .There he stated in Voria.gr that the use of the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” by businesses in Greece or the neighboring country will not encounter problems as inscriptions to indicate which Macedonia is referred will be added.

But then why a three-year committee is needed? Unfortunately, the issue is not simple as it is presented. Such a “solution” is against Greece and against all the European and international rules of ensuring rights, as it violates the inalienable principle that a copyright (trademark, the name of a company, the brand name) should not be visually or acoustically similar to an earlier protected right. Consequently, will the government prefer a solution with the help of its representatives in this special group that would offend the inalienable principle of business? And under this aspect, will it be possible to have two Universities of “Macedonia”, two airports “Macedonia” and so on, with only one difference, their different marking?

This “solution” also violates a basic rule regarding registrations: that of time priority. Based on the European and international rules, the right which precedes time over another is protected. Moreover, in the majority of the cases, Greek entrepreneurs hold copyrights previously protected by those of Skopje enterprises and institutions, both on a national and a European level.

However, what will be true regarding new brand names, new brands and businesses? What will be the framework for the use of the term “Macedonia” for the two countries during the three-year working period of the International Panel of Experts and until the outcome of their work? Unfortunately no provision for this issue exists.

Another issue emerging from this agreement is that through non-regulation it is possible to secure rights when the term “Macedonia” in both countries. Therefore, successful Greek companies will be called upon to confront the usurpation of their dynamic brands by the corresponding products of Skopje, which are clearly of smaller entrepreneurial and historical power.

At the time I was writing this article noting questions that arise, Mr Zaef anwered at the agency MIA that “state organizations will obey the principle of the agreement and the new name. All the other organizations, associations, and companies can use the adjective “Macedonian” both in the country and anywhere in the world. For example, “Macedonian culture”” expressing the worst version for us as a country. He also mentioned something about the Macedonian identity on behalf of Skopje and “of the geographic area of the Macedonia on the Greek side”.

It is clear that the relinquishment of our established international rights favors certain parts of the involved parties. The only legally acceptable solution is the complete alignment of Skopje with European and international rules, in the context of an agreement according to which the righter holds the right as his/her right precedes the right of the other counterpart. For this reason, all Greek companies have the term “Macedonia” or its derivatives in their distinctive features and have not proceeded to pledge procedures it would be advisable to expedite them.

From the extent of the problems from an economic and business aspect, anyone can understand the magnitude of the new problems arising from the “Prespes agreement”. That is why I do not understand those who sympathize with deal just because “it hat be done at some point”. I disagree not only with the outcome of the agreement, but also with the timing and the handling of such an important national issue. Decisions such as these far outweigh the temporary relations between governments, or the pursuit of temporary political benefits. The national horizon may not be restricted by shortsighted micro parties and conveniences. Time in such cases is not “old father time”…

GDPR Seminar at the Association of Lawyers in Preveza

By | News

On Saturday July 14, 2018 a GDPR seminar was held at the Association of Lawyers in Preveza.

The seminar was conducted by Rhetor Law Firm Lawyer and Associate of Rhetor Law Firm, Nikos Papantonopoulos (Certified Data Protection Officer and PhD Candidate in the field of Criminal Protection of Personal Data), after the invitation of the President of the Board of Directors and President of the Association, mister Thomas Georgiou.

During the Seminar, the basic concepts of the Regulation were analyzed as well as the compliance measures that each lawyer has to take and the possibility for GDPR to become a piece of the law. In this seminar the expert in the subject of Personal Data and Rhetor’s partner, Athena Antoniou expressed her own vie on video surveillance systems.

 

eksodikastikos mixanismos agrotes

Extrajudicial Settlement Scheme for Farmers

By | News

The ability to settle their debts through the online platform of the extrajudicial mechanism (Law 4172/2013) was given to 338.000 farmers with debts to the Agricultural Insurance Organization (O.G.A.), as well as to 23.000 farmers with debts to the former Agricultural Bank! This option will be in effect initially until 31 December 2018, but an extension of this arrangement may be.

The four (4) basic axes of the aforementioned possibility of settling debts that farmers now have are summarized in the following points: a. the ability to write off capital up to 60%, in each case, if the repayment is agreed within three months – and as appropriate with a write-off of up to 40% in case the debtor chooses the 120 installments process over a period of 10 years; b. the option of writing off all interest on late payment, as well as the remission of the fines and surcharges of the Stte, based on the real estate of the debtor; c. re-evaluation of agreed interest rates; d. option of selling real estate for the purpose of repaying the remaining debt.

The above provision concerns all established debts to the tax authorities concerning the tax status of farmers. Specifically and indicatively, the debts that may be included in the settlement are farmers’ debts to the Tax Office for income, VAT, to the O.G.A for their insurance contributions, for debts to banks under liquidation status (formerly Agricultural Bank of Greece – A.T.E. -, former T.T., former F.B.b., former Probank,   former Panhellenic Bank SA, former Cooperative Banks etc.), as well as certified debts to the Organization of the Greek Agricultural Insurance (ELGA).

The above legislative prediction helps farmers a lot concerning their debts. This is a real opportunity for all debtors in this category who are unable to meet their financial obligations.

Rhetor Law Firm undertakes the process of joining the platform of the out-of-court debt settlement mechanism and in particular: (a) the collection of all supporting documents; (b) the process of completing the fields of the electronic platform; (c) monitoring the entire negotiation procedure with the debtor’s creditors up to the final outcome.

For further information, please contact our highly specialized team of Extrajudicial Mechanism, which consists of a specialized economist and lawyers working in the fields of banking and tax law.

brexit

What will be the effects of BREXIT on E.U. brands?

By | News

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has clarified in its statement that the E.U. trademarks which are already registered will cease to be protected in the United Kingdom since the date of its withdrawal from the European Union.

Similarly, any new application for an EU trademark after the date of UK’s withdrawal from the E.U. will no longer include the United Kingdom in the countries where the trademark will be protected. The beneficiaries of a registered EU trademark and all those who wish to register their trademark in the United Kingdom will be obliged to follow the trademark registration process through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The cost of vesting depends on the type of the trademark and on the number of classes to which it corresponds.

In order to avoid a gap in the protection of the EU trademarks that are already registered in the United Kingdom, the recipients will have to make new applications before the United Kingdom exits the E.U.

Rhetor Law Firm specializes in intellectual and industrial property issues of companies and organizations (trademarks registration, industrial designs vesting, patents and utility models as well as intellectual property copyrights i.e. software, authors’ intellectual rights etc.).

 

Iliana Kosti,

Lawlyer, LLM

man hand robot

Artificial intelligence in our lives and the legal issues that will arise in the future

By | News

Artificial intelligence is part of our lives more than we realize; from the algorithm which allows us to make electronic payments, the algorithms that answer us when we pose a question to websites of big companies as if they were people up to the “smart broom”, the image recognition applications, “smart” cars and many other applications in our lives. The basis of artificial intelligence is data. Their processing and management are the revolution of our times, potentially with much greater impact on mankind than even the industrial revolution.

Developments in the field of artificial intelligence, while helpful and expected to contribute much more to the improvement of living and to the increase of life expectancy, are already growing rapidly, especially in the health sector (through the automatic processing of a large set of data and the automation of both diagnosis and prevention, the more precise and rapid surgical intervention, the discovery and interpretation of the causes of medical cases), the protection of the environment and the management of global catastrophes (observation, classification, and management of global systems, energy saving, predictions on the behavior and needs of the world’s species, disaster forecasts, the development of protection instruments etc.), the development and management of alternative energy sources, the transportations (The “smart” car is already “on the road” creating huge debates on the management of ethical issues), the entrepreneurship (through the development of methods of analysis and forecasting, through automation of processes etc.), geolocation systems, the natural language processing, the natural language genetration and communication.

Enormous legal issues arise from the above aspects and from many more which concerns the specific field of science and technology, thus presenting the need to address legal issues such as:

  1. What is the definition of an individual? The legal definition of the concept of human, humanoid, machine and related artificial intelligence will be required in matters such as: the definition of default, the acquiring full or limited rights or not acquiring them, as well as regulating intellectual property issues. From philosophical point of view, questions such as what will distinguish man from an artificial intelligence machine, since both have the ability of logical thinking, creation, dialogue and synthesis. Does mankind create a new framework of “slavery”?
  2. Rights: Are artificially intelligent products with an autonomous personality entitled to rights? Will their rights be graded according to the degree of intelligence and autonomy of each machine? What are the obligations of the individual towards them? Will the rights be created on a basis of equality with the human being or will the law of right of pets be adopted, whereas the man -owner will have the same obligations against the law? An artificial intelligence product will be property of a human being or should it be entitled, and the artificial intelligence product should refuse or opt for an owner? Which other legislative model could regulate these issues?
  3. Personal data: People’s personal data are collected continuously from sources that people might not be aware of. Is the existing protection framework enough to regulate their protection and proper use? Additionally, could we talk in the future about personal data of artificial intelligence products and under what conditions could that be? In a conversation between a human and a machine which legislative framework for privacy completion will be implemented?
  4. Culpability: Based on the moral test known as the “trolley problem”, fully automated car which chooses to drift and kill the pedestrian who stands in front of it instead of suddenly braking or turning towards right or left where the obstacle exists in order to aid injury of the passengers is an advanced version. Who is responsible for the crime? The car manufacturer? The developer of the car? The owner of the car? The car itself which may have worked out all the data it could collect from its environment and took voluntarily the decision to hit the pedestrian? And what legal rules will be applied? Under which jurisdiction?
  5. Intellectual Property: Evolution in artificial intelligence also poses challenges in the field of intellectual property products. Could an artificial intelligence product be the only beneficiary or co-owner in a patent or industrial design? And under which circumstances? Could it be considered as a copyright holder of a painting, a book, a musical composition or even a scientific analysis?
  6. Data, security and protection of privacy: Artificial intelligence products collect personal data, but what kind of guarantees exist that these data are adequately protected or managed based on national (and European) legal rules or even generally accepted ethical rules? A typical example are social chatbots (under Bi), whose function is based on the collection of personal data of the people they talk to and which they use both in a subsequent conversation with the same person and in conversations with other people. Since it is practically impossible to be invisible online, how feasible is the adequate protection of privacy and under which legal framework?
  7. Competition and consumer protection issues: In this very wide field of life, we ask questions such as: Which framework regulates the case where a robot is not suitable for the intended use? Could it be guilty of misleading conduct or part of collusion against a competing company? Should the degree of initiative that an artificial intelligence product takes be defined when it trades on behalf of third parties? Where should the legislature’s intervention be stopped for the sake of science?
  8. Jurisdiction issues: The use of artificial intelligence products does not know borders. Therefore, the question that arises is what kind of law is applicable in the event of a violation of a person’s right, in the event of a tort, or in the case of a criminal offense.
  9. Ethical issues: A dominant issue in terms of artificial intelligence is the moral part. Questions such as “is it feasible, but is it moral?” or “in the case of a lose-lose situation (i.e. “smart” car) what is the most ethical choice?” or even “in case the artificial intelligence minimizes jobs, how will the governments react to this situation?”, concern people and legislators. Hypothetical scenarios are created without yet having answers for the most ethically correct option that an artificial intelligence product should be “forced” to have.

The debate on the above issues is expected to be long, and developments in technology are unstoppable. The only certainty is that a new era has already begun for mankind and it is up to us to use the new instruments that are gradually being put to our disposal.

Iliana Costis,

Lawyer, LLM professional in intellectual property issues, personal data and artificial intelligence

What is true about European Payment Orders?

By | News

In a specific case handled by the Rhetor Law Firm with the decision No. 309/21-2-2019, the Thessaloniki County Court applied the European Regulation to a cross-border dispute, accepting the factual and legal claims of the applicant creditor, whose claim for money will be directly met.

On 1.1.2007, Regulation (EC) 1896/2006 was established and regulates the procedure for the European order for payment. The activation of this European mechanism aims at the fast and effective collection of uncontested claims, as late payments are one of the main causes of bankruptcy that threatens particularly small and medium – sized enterprises.

Both the content and the effectiveness of payment order procedures in the Member States of the European Union vary considerably. In addition, in many cases the existing national procedures are inapplicable in cross-border cases.

It is therefore clear that the prospect of national payment order procedures is particularly difficult or impossible in the case of cross-border disputes. These obstacles demand the intervention of the European legislator to ensure the existence of equal terms for creditors and debtors throughout the EU.

The aim of a European order is to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of cross-border disputes regarding the uncontested financial claims and to ensure the free circulation of European payment orders in all Member States. In this way, the creditor’s claim is directly met, even if it results from a definite claim and reflects the normality of business life.

Rhetor Law Firm and its qualified associates, checking the conditions for the application of the above regulation, can assist in the process of meeting your financial claims and within the EU.

Vivi Pitsari

Attorney at law

CONTACT WITH ONE OF OUR SPECIALIZED PARTNERS
andreas papamimikos

Macedonian trademarks: The next day

By | News

With the Prespes Agreement now being an accomplished reality, and with the International Experts Committee of paragraph 8 Article 3 of Part 1 of the Agreement, which will be required to regulate copyright issues between the two countries, the following questions are genuinely raised by entrepreneurs whose trademarks contain the word “Macedonia” or its derivatives:

  1. After the Prespes Agreement, has the procedure for the registration of trademarks containing the word “Macedonia” or its derivatives changed?

Until the intellectual property issues will be regulated by the International Expert Group, no change exists in the registration process. Any interested party, if the right is established, can guarantee a trademark incorporating the words “Macedonia”, “Macedonian” and any derivative in Greece and the EU.

  1. Is the country specific label mandatory?

There is no such obligation now.

  1. Is it true that special services responsible for receiving trademark applications (Ministry of Development and Economy, European Union Intellectual Property Office – EUIPO) delay the registration of trademarks with the words “Macedonia”, “Macedonian” or its derivative, as rumored to be true in the neighboring country?

This reputation is not true. The procedures in Greece and the EU have not been modified, and the vesting schedules are followed as for all applications. In any case, any delay will only theoretically delay the right to use the trademark and not the starting point of protection, as once the registration is complete – even late – the protection period will start retrospectively from the date of filing the application. The principle of time priority is not removed anymore.

  1. What steps should be taken by the Greek entrepreneur who wishes to guarantee his/her trademark, which contains the word “Macedonia” or its derivatives?

Anyone claiming a right should immediately file an application for the trademark registration, as patents are based on the principle of time priority of applications. At a protection’s width level, it is preferable to have a European registration – patent, as an application can be marketed throughout the EU, as opposed to the national protection that provides protection only within the Greek borders. Also, at a cost level, the European guarantee is more advantageous. The cost of pledging is calculated based on the number of classes (product/ service categories) to which each trademark corresponds.

Additionally, companies which export their products to the neighboring country – and in any other country is not a member of the EU, should file a registration application through the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).

  1. Are the Greek trademarks at risk from lawsuits on behalf of the neighboring country’s operators on the ground that in the first case the trademarks relate to a region of a State while in the second case they relate to a State?

The neighboring country’s entrepreneurs cannot prevent the use of trademark in the Greek territory as long as: (a) they do not sell their own similar product in the Greek Market, (b) even if their own similar product is sold in the Greek market, they have registered this right after the Greek right holder of the Greek trademark (principle of time priority).

The International Committee of Experts which will be set up in 2019 must preserve and safeguard the above – mentioned international rules on the protection of trademarks in such a way that no unfavorable exceptions are introduced violating the national and European rules for the Greek entrepreneurs.

ATTENTION: As soon as it joins the EU it means that the entrepreneur in that country will have, just like the Greek one, the right to register his/ her trademark across the EU, including Greece, and hence, its trademark will also be protected in Greece, even if the product is only sold and traded only in his/her country.

Therefore, it may prohibit the use of any similar brand – and hence the circulation of the product to which it corresponds – to Greece. That is why it is very important for Greek entrepreneurs to proceed immediately with the registration of their trademarks so that they can guarantee their rights in Greece and the EU in time and so that no one can ban their branding and circulation of their products in Greece and the EU.

 

What is changing in the Criminal Code? How will the work of justice accelerate? What is to be in force with the trademarks?

By | News

What is changing in the Criminal Code? How will the work of justice accelerate? What is to be in force with the trademarks?

The most important changes brought about the new legislation in the Criminal Code of the country are cited by the founder and co-owner of the Rhetor Law Firm, Mr. Andreas Papamimikos, who also positively welcomes the upcoming reform of the Criminal Code.

In an interview at Voria.gr Mr. Papamimikos underlines that long delays in the administration of justice and law enforcement consist an important inhibiting factor in attracting investment and presents his proposal in order to speed up the work of the judiciary.

Lastly, he makes a special reference to the issue of Macedonian trademarks, explaining precisely the validity and inviting the Greek businessmen to proceed immediately to the registrations – copyrights in order to ensure the use of their trademark and the circulation of their products in Greece and the European Union.

 

What is your view of the great upcoming reform of the Criminal Law of our country?

Firstly, if I have to place myself in the first place entirely according to my point, I believe that the reform has a positive sign. The committee, which started its work under the late John Manoledakis, composed of established members of the legal world, make a considerable and time-consuming effort in order to bring our criminal law into line with the needs and the concerns of our time.

There are some provisions that have caused a lot of controversy and talking, but the worst of all is when we the issue concerns planning, we cannot judge something which has a final form that we will not be able to know until it is voted by the General Assembly of the Parliament.

 

What kind of changes do you consider most important?

Very briefly, I believe that it is moving towards the right direction: a) the abolition of Law 1608/1950 for the abusers of public money, since the punishment of a property crime with the same punishment that manslaughter with intention is punished on an international level is clearly disproportionate; b) the elimination of wrongdoing and the punishment of specific offenses only at the administrative level, as the reality showed that the criminalization of specific behaviors did not act as a deterrent; c) the abolition of the institution of the conversion of the penalty into money, which favors the economically well –off and the promotion of the institution of charitable work as a basic way of alternative punishment, which is expected to have better efficiency for the society if only the appropriate infrastructure is taken care of; d) the abolition of one-member Courts of Appeal, as they may have helped in speeding up the administration of justice; however, this can be achieved on the one hand by better “filtering” of the cases at the stage of pre-trial, and on the other hand allowing to one person only, even with the guarantee of the judicial officer to judge the freedom of another person, has many possibilities of error that even if it is eventually healed in the end, it will have stigmatized him/her for his/her whole life.

 

Your law firm supports businessmen and traders. What is the opinion you have concerning the investments in Greece and the possibility of attracting new investments?

Greece could have much higher growth rates if there was a somewhat “friendlier” environment to investors who wish to invest money in the Greek market. A major obstacle in attracting and implementing new investments is the slow administration of justice, even today. Anyone can file an appeal, which can freeze an investment for almost a decade. Anyone can also anonymously file a complaint, which must be filed directly according to Law. However, in practice, this is not generally the case and can also hinder investment until the criminal mechanism has come to a decision.

 

Do you believe that easy access to justice prevents it from being more quickly administered?

I would never imply that any of us should not be entitled to access to justice. Such an opinion opposes my beliefs. However, these complaints must be filtered quickly, carefully and fairly. Neither do I think that the judges are responsible for delaying the assignment of their work, as they are charged with much work with all the files and they are also under pressure to be efficient. This is not the point of justice. The judge must be able to devote himself/herself to his/her spiritual work undistracted. For this reason, it should be supported by a greater number of judicial officers, to be given more and modern technological means, in order to reduce judicial bureaucracy, to spend much more money from the state budget on justice, which is clearly underfunded in relation to the European average and to promote even more alternative ways of resolving disputes such as arbitration and mediation.

 

After the Prespes agreement, do you think there are risks for Greek businessmen who produce products by using the words Macedonia, Macedonian etc.?

The Prespes agreement has not affected the principle of time – priority in the field of trademark law. The neighboring country’s entrepreneurs cannot prevent the use of a trademark on Greek territory if they: a) do not sell their own product in the Greek market; b) Even if their similar product is sold in the Greek market, they have their right fortified only after the Greek beneficiary who uses the registered Greek and European trademark. As soon as the neighboring country presumably joins the EU, the entrepreneur in the other country will be as able as the Greek one to register his/her trademark across the EU including Greece, and hence his/her trademark will also be protected within his/ her country. Consequently, it may be prohibited to use any similar trademark – and hence the circulation of the product to which it corresponds – to Greece. That is why it is very important for Greek entrepreneurs to proceed immediately with the registration of their trademarks so that they can guarantee their rights in Greece and the EU in time and so that no one could ever forbid the use of their trademark and the circulation of their products in Greece and the EU.

 

Legal Associate with expertise in Civil & Commercial Law (Athens based)

By | career, ΘΕΣΕΙΣ ΕΡΓΑΣΙΑΣ

We are currently recruiting for Legal Associate with expertise in Civil & Commercial Law (Αthens based), to join our team.

What we want

Our ideal candidate is a bright and ambitious lawyer that focuses on delivering work of high quality, commits to high levels of client service, and has the ability to build strong client relationships.

  • 5 years of work experience in Civil & Commercial Law
  • Excellent command of the English Language
  • Highly organized with excellent attention to detail
  • Team player, motivated and self-driven

What we offer

  • A competitive salary based on experience and skills
  • A performance based bonus scheme
  • Training and professional development

Send your resume (code R14) at hr@rhetor.gr

Send your CV here

Legal Associate with expertise in Public & Administrative Law (Thessaloniki)

By | career, ΘΕΣΕΙΣ ΕΡΓΑΣΙΑΣ

Requirements

Our ideal candidate is a bright and ambitious lawyer that focuses on delivering work of high quality, commits to high levels of client service, and has the ability to build strong client relationships.

  • At least five (5) years of work experience in Public Procurements and expertise in Public & Administrative Law
  • Excellent command of the English Language
  • A Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Administrative Law will be considered a plus
  • Highly organised with excellent attention to detail
  • Team player, motivated and self-driven

What we offer:

  • A competitive salary based on experience and skills
  • A performance based bonus scheme
  • Training and professional development

Send your resume (code R13) at hr@rhetor.gr

Send your CV here

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