Cybercrime threats

Cybercrime threatsGiven the importance of the cybercrime issue, the Ministry of the Interior published a second report dedicated to cyber threats in May 2018. It is a comprehensive, in-depth overview of the cybercrime and the responses developed by the Ministry. This report includes three parts:



  • Strategic Issues Related to Cyber Threats
  • Uses, phenomena and perception of the threat
  • The actions taken by the Ministry of the Interior to manage cyberthreats.

The first part of the report identifies strategic issues related to cybercrime from social, economic and, legal perspectives. On social level it deals with the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes (crowdsourcing of terrorist activities), the development of information and communication technologies such as discussion forums and crypto – currencies, illicit traffic on Darknets (deep web) through increased use of encryption and anonymization tools.

The economic level concerns the development of the cybersecurity market as well as economic counter-interference. For example, cyber-attacks motivated by greed, sabotage, espionage or economic interference have startling financial and reputational implications for organizations.

In the section on the legal issues related to cyber threats, the report includes information on the following developments: the evolution of French legislation, the impact of the directives (NIS Directive) and European regulations (GDPR),the CJEU jurisprudence in fight against cyber threats (judgment of 21 December 2016), the work of the Council of Europe, the United Nations General Assembly and the G7 Group, as well as international cooperation, considering the international dimension of cybercrime.

In the second part of the report concerning uses and threat perception, three factors were mentioned, namely: vulnerability, social engineering and malware. Theses are three main vectors of attacks such as targeted attack and deep attacks, misappropriation and theft of data, denial of service (DoS), disfigurement and telephone attacks.

The Internet with its penetration rate of 87% in France and 54% worldwide was identified as the main mean (especially through smartphones, tablets, Internet connected objects and smart spaces) used for terrorism, scams, extortion, bank card fraud, online criminal markets, attacks on minors, counterfeit works of the mind and ultimately undermining democracy. The study based on data collected by the national police shows a global increase in Internet offences by30% compared to 2016; more than 60% of these offenses are online frauds.

In the third part of the report concerning the actions of the Ministry of the Interior, three main actions were considered: prevention and protection, investigation, and innovation. Prevention actions include targeting general public, promoting awareness in the economic world, increasing territorial economic intelligence and protecting the Ministry’s information systems. The protection can be ensured by using cyber insurance to mitigate risk. Cyber insurance become common in France, regardless the fact that the intangible assets cannot be insured yet in a standardized way.

The report includes investigation procedures that go beyond current practice of acknowledging the victims of cybercrime. It is proposed to implement specialized investigation services for cybercrime as well as training and cooperation in the domain of cyber security.

Six main areas of innovation action were identified in the report:

  • Research and development (analytical & forensics tools as well as academic research project)
  • Public-private partnership
  • Digital transformation: better reporting,
  • Cyber communication (Neo PN / GN project, Digital Brigade of the Gendarmerie, establishing network of regional cyber threats
  • Crisis Communication: Population Alert and Information System (SAIP) and Emergency Management of Social Media (MSGU)), a better understanding of mass phenomena (Thésée Project, Perceval Project),

Remediation through platforms – assistance to victims of cyber-maliciousness, digital identity.

In the era of the digital economy and the digital transformation, cybersecurity is a crucial issue for consumers (including minors) who adopted online purchasing and usage, for the private sector (banking and financial sector, as well as the healthcare sector) and for the public sector. The strategy of fighting against cyber threats must be everyone’s business. It is therefore necessary to expand collective power to prevent and fight against terrorism.

Brexit – an unexpected impact on cigarette pack picture warnings

Brexit - an unexpected impact on cigarette pack picture warningsIn order to be prepared for any outcomes, including a “no deal” Brexit (a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement)  the British government published on Thursday, August 16 a set of technical guidelines  outlining the risks of a “no deal” outcome.  The guidelines are intended to help businesses and individuals to get ready for the impact of a “no deal” scenario.

Although the 24 guidelines contain many topics, the government is planning to release 80 guidelines in total. Among other topics, the guidelines cover the issue of tobacco legislation.

 The EU Member States are subject to EU Directive 2014/40 / EU “Tobacco Products” which regulates the manufacturing, distribution and sale of tobacco products in the EU. In the event of a “no deal” Brexit, the “tobacco products” legislation will no longer be applicable in the United Kingdom. It will be replaced by a UK legislation, which would contain minor amendments to the existing UK domestic law introduced in 2016.

However, another related issue remains unclarified, namely the graphic photo warnings that appear on cigarette packets, since the EU owns the copyrights for the photo warnings currently in use.  In order to use copyrighted images, a copyrights owner’s permission is required.  The “Tobacco Products” Directive grants the right to use the images on cigarette packets to the Member States, which makes the image bank of more than 40 photos unavailable to non-Members. In case of a “no deal” scenario, new UK images for cigarette packets will have to be introduced. In its’ notice regarding labelling tobacco products, the UK government states just that – tobacco manufacturers need to ensure that new picture warnings appear on tobacco products after Exit Day.

The tobacco products notice outlines the course of action that will need to be taken in the event of a “no deal” scenario. In September the UK Government will publish more technical details of the new regulation and the picture warnings that will minimize the burden associated with introduction of modifications. New information about the images used in the tobacco picture warnings will therefore be available when the new legislation is passed.

Protecting trademarks during the Olympic Games : the major issues and challenges

Protection des marques lors des Jeux Olympiques : des enjeux de tailleThe 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games represent an exceptionally important date for Paris. The city’s application was accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 13 September 2017. This event is a major challenge for both the Olympic trademark  and the partner trademarks which will be protected by intellectual property rights and competition law.

Challenges for the protection of the Olympic trademark and  its notoriety

The Olympic Games are broadcast all over the world and have a global reputation, so the trademark must be protected against the high risks of parasitism and infringement.

This is when intellectual property rights have all their importance. Trademark law protects registered distinctive signs such as the official name of the event, logos, the hymn, etc. Similarly, article L141-5 of the French sports codes already stipulates that the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) is the owner of the national Olympic emblems, currency, hymn, the Olympic symbol and the terms “Olympic games” and “ Olympiad”. Any filing as a trademark, imitation, reproduction, apposition, suppression or modification of these signs constitutes an infringement and is punishable by the sanctions referred to in the French Intellectual Property Code.

Beyond these provisions, the host countries frequently implement ad hoc legislation that may be restrictive and sometimes exempt from common law, to be able to prepare the event in an optimum manner and honour the commitments made during the application phase. For France, this is the purpose of law no. 2018-202 promulgated on 26 March 2018 relative to the organisation of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games.

Article 3 of the law specifies and reasserts the rights of protected signs. In this respect, it amends the terms of the French Sports Code and adds certain signs to the protection. The CNOSF is, thereupon, owner of the national Olympic emblems and custodian of the Olympic games flag, currency, emblems, hymn, logo, slogan and posters and of the mascot, the terms “Olympiques”, “Jeux olympiques”, “Olympiade”, “Olympien/Olympienne” “JO” and of the vintage “city+year”. Any commercial or promotional use of these signs or that could lead to a risk of confusion in the minds of the public suggesting a link with the Olympic Games is punishable under the dispositions of the Intellectual Property Code, as constituting infringements. Only the use in normal speech is tolerated.

Lastly, article 6 b of the Paris Convention signed on 20 March 1883 “for the protection of industrial property” states that any person who harms the image of a well-known trademark  will be held liable. In this respect, it is incontrovertible that the Olympic trademark is entitled to this particular protection. In 2006, there was a case in which the CNOSF was up against the procurement group of Leclerc supermarkets which had called its promotional campaign “Olymprix” and filed this trademark for their products. The French courts highlighted the deterioration of the image of the “Olympique” and “Jeux Olympiques” trademark and the acts of parasitism, finding against Leclerc.

Challenges for sponsor trademarks

Behind the euphoria of the global event there are major financial interests at stake. One and a half billion Euros will be used to fund the event. Funding that is provided by the 15 major partner corporations, including LVMH, Suez, BNP Paribas, in consideration of which they will be promoted during the event and allowed to use the protected signs of the games. The increased protection afforded the Olympic emblems by the aforementioned legislation and the ad hoc legislation in particular is therefore at the heart of the smooth running of the games. Only partner undertakings can use the Olympic signs in their marketing strategies during the event, which constitutes major compensation for their funding. Without protection, no investment: without investment, no event. “The strongest guarantees must be given to the CNOSF to protect the terms of which they are the custodian. Their protection is in fact essential for the economic equilibrium of the Games. It is therefore imperative that the partners know their investment is guaranteed and their rights protected” explained Laura Flessel, French minister of sports, at the parliament sitting on 20 December 2017 at 15:00.

This represented a sizeable challenge for non-partner undertakings wishing to take advantage of a global, highly mediatised event in their marketing strategies. Some criticise the measures of the ad hoc law, as it undermines freedom of expression, or restricts the freedom of trade and industry. Severe provisions which, furthermore, go beyond the protection of trademark law by making it deviate from its core function of distinctiveness. While trademark law only protects distinctive signs, this ad hoc law protects terms that have no distinction, but with the aim of protecting the investments of the partner trademarks, in particular to stimulate sales.

Furthermore, the partner trademarks still have to face ambush-marketing. This practice consists in non-certified trademarks making themselves visible during the Olympic Games without having contributed investments in return. The Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, on 30 May 2008, condemned this type of practice in respect of tortious liability and parasitism in a case opposing the French Tennis Federation and UNIBET. It stated that “UNIBET deliberately places itself in the wake of the Tournament to promote and develop its business inexpensively, which is the definition of parasitic behaviour entailing tortious liability”.

The unfolding of an event which has a global reach therefore poses challenges both for the well-known trademark which the Olympic trademark represents and for the partner trademarks for which protection is critical. France intends to provide effective protection for the Olympic trademark and its recognition, which represent valuable assets.