IT & MEDIA
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW
Astrea handles all of the usual branches of intellectual property law, such as trademark law, copyright, design and model rights, patent law, domain names, database rights, laws concerning trade secrets, business secrets and know-how, and laws related to computer programmes. For patent law cases, Astrea works closely with patent offices and patent attorneys.
We protect the property rights of our clients through Belgian and international registration procedures, draft and negotiate contracts with intellectual property law aspects, and assist clients in intellectual property law transactions. We work with the Corporate & Finance and Tax departments to provide IP law and tax solutions for companies undergoing restructuring in Belgian and abroad. In corporate takeovers, we also assist our clients with the legal due diligence required to ascertain the value of intangible assets such as intellectual property rights.
In addition, we assist clients with the administrative procedures for litigation or arbitration concerning intellectual property rights. We also have broad expertise and experience in proceedings to contest counterfeiting, piracy and other infringements or ancillary claims, proceedings before the criminal courts, Customs measures (at a Belgian or European level), and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
Lastly, Astrea has extensive experience in handling cases involving European law aspects of intellectual property rights, and intellectual property law aspects of new technologies.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAW
For many years, Astrea has been providing legal assistance to major Belgian and multinational IT companies and maintained close contacts with regulatory authorities and IT sector associations. As a result, our team has exceptional knowledge of the IT industry and is well versed in the latest technologies.
Astrea’s Information Technology Law Department provides services to hardware producers, software developers and providers of other IT-related services such as consultancy, servicing and support, as well as to the clients of these businesses.
Astrea provides advice and drafts documents in relation to a wide range of matters, including:
- Software-related contracts
- Internet-related agreements and similar matters
- Cloud computing
- Electronic commerce and advertising
- Public tenders for computer hardware and software and IT projects
- Online games of chance and video and online gaming
- IT security
- Legal problems resulting from the increasing digitalisation of information and the exchange of information between many different types of equipment.
In addition to providing advice and drafting contracts on IT-related matters, we assist our clients in IT-related litigation, in which the business and strategic interests of our clients are always front and centre.
IT-related legal problems often involve the Internet and therefore regularly transcend national borders. In response to this issue, we have built up a network of specialised foreign correspondents who are able to assist our clients in these cases.
PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION AND PRIVACY
The volume of personal information processed by individual companies is steadily increasing, and new technologies have drastically changed the methods of processing. Compliance with the legislation governing the protection of personal information is ever more important in this increasingly digitalised world.
In order to be able to comply with this legislation, clients must have a strategy. An efficient compliance strategy can help a company to improve its reputation and strengthen its relationship with clients and employees.
Astrea has given advice to many international companies on the subject of protection of personal information in Belgium, the other Member States of the EU, Norway and Switzerland, using its extensive network of specialist correspondents. In every case, we remain the single point of contact when coordinating multi-jurisdictional or pan-European projects.
Astrea has considerable experience in organising and coordinating audits in one or several jurisdictions, to identify the current state of our clients’ personal information processing, as well as their systems for the storage and processing of personal information and the existing level of compliance. The scope of application of the audit is of course determined in discussion with the client.
We analyse the data and write an audit report. On the basis of that report, we can:
- Make applications to the relevant authorities
- Draft codes of conduct or guidelines
- Provide training
- Prepare outsourcing contracts, notifications and consent forms for clients and employees, clauses for employment agreements, client contracts and general terms and conditions
- Formulate solutions for the international transfer of personal information
- Draft and implement a compliance plan or strategy.
Astrea’s close relationships with administrative bodies and supervisory authorities also enable us to monitor the latest developments in privacy legislation. We have successfully assisted several clients in proceedings instigated by privacy authorities.
In the early days of outsourcing, the process generally involved entire IT departments, with a lot of attention needing to be given to the transfer of personnel to the service provider and the drafting of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
These days, outsourcing often involves the transfer of these activities to a new supplier (second or third generation outsourcing). The focus is more on reporting and oversight (governance), avoidance of liability and fostering of flexibility. The position of the employees remains an important consideration. The issue of whether these employees will automatically be transferred to the new supplier depends on the agreement with that supplier.
Astrea has wide experience in assisting both suppliers (companies which provide outsourcing services) and clients (companies which outsource their IT activities) with their outsourcing projects.
Outsourcing often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Astrea’s lawyers work in a variety of areas of practice, but operate as a single, close-knit team when dealing with outsourcing in areas such as:
- Company law: establishing subsidiary companies and branch offices, transferring assets and setting up complex joint venture structures;
- Tax: tax-optimised structures for cross-border outsourcing and Service Level Agreements, as well as the associated VAT aspects;
- Financial: structuring and minimising the tax risks of the sale and re-leasing of equipment in outsourcing transactions;
- HR: employment law aspects of outsourcing transactions;
- Regulatory: competition, protection of privacy, etc.;
- Intellectual property: the intellectual property law aspects of outsourcing, such as the transfer of technology, the allocation of ownership rights in R&D, and the protection of intellectual property;
- IT: IT-law aspects of outsourcing such as the transfer of technology, Service Level Agreements, etc.
- Real estate: property law and environmental law aspects of outsourcing.
Astrea provides advice to all sorts of media players, including television and radio stations, TV and film producers, Internet companies, newspaper, book and magazine publishers, advertising agencies and events agencies in connection with all aspects of media law, including:
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of expression
- Lawfulness and unlawfulness of publications
- Protection of sources
- Journalistic balance
- Right to privacy
- Right to be forgotten on the Internet
- Identity theft
- Personality and image rights
- Liability of publishers and Internet Service Providers for the content of their publications (online or otherwise)
- Unfair market practices
- Marketing and advertising law
- Product placement
- Online marketing
- Search engines
- Social networking sites
- Promotional competitions
- Promotion and sponsorship
- Sports law
- Contracts for performing artists and sportspeople
- Consumer protection
- Media regulation
- Broadcasting rights
- Cable access
- Video on demand.
In addition to giving advice and drafting contracts in media-related matters, we also assist our clients with media-related legal disputes, in which the business and strategic interests of our clients are always front and centre.
LAW OF GAMES OF CHANCE
Astrea assists providers of online and real-world games of chance, financial institutions, Internet and media companies, software developers and interest groups in all aspects of the law of games of chance, including regulations which apply to lotteries, betting, gambling and competitions. Our expertise covers games of chance played both in the real world and on the Internet or via mobile applications.
Astrea also has unique expertise in the law of games of chance, both in Belgium and at the European level. With regard to Belgian law, we advise on all aspects of Belgian regulations relating to games of chance. At the European level, we assist clients in the application of internal market freedoms and legislation, competition law, and any state support in this specific sector.
In addition to providing general commercial, regulatory and tax advice, we also:
- Monitor regulatory developments in Belgium and the rest of Europe
- Draft complex contracts
- Provide assistance in dealings with competent supervisory authorities
- Assist with licence applications, including for offering casino games and betting and running slot machine venues, both in the real world and online. We also provide assistance with the obtaining of other licences, such as licences for staff in gambling establishments, or for suppliers and repairers of games of chance, etc.
- Challenge operational suspensions or inclusions on the black list of providers of games of chance
- Represent clients in administrative and court proceedings in Belgium or at the European level.