This post was originally published on our sister blog Inside Privacy

On April 10, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party adopted an Opinion on anonymization techniques.  The Working Party accepts that anonymization techniques can help individuals and society reap the benefits of “open data” initiatives – initiatives intended to make various types of data more freely available – while mitigating the privacy risks of such initiatives.  Yet, the standard for anonymization proposed by the Working Party is not an easy one to meet, and the Working Party reiterates its belief that data will remain regulated personal data in the event a party – not necessarily the recipient of the data – is capable of associating it with a living individual.

The Working Party starts by pointing out that rendering personal data anonymous is a data processing operation in itself.  As a result, data controllers can only engage in such activity if the raw data concerned has been collected in compliance with applicable data protection laws.  In addition, based on existing data minimization obligations, data controllers should treat the application of anonymization techniques to data as a form of “further use”, compatible with the original use only if the anonymization technique is reliable.
Continue Reading European Regulators Set Out Data Anonymization Standards

In the wake of the financial crisis and the so-called ‘shareholder-spring’ of 2012 (a period during which many shareholders refused to endorse directors’ remuneration policies), the government has introduced new rules on directors’ remuneration reporting. The new rules: (i) increase the compliance burdens regarding the reporting of directors’ remuneration policies; (ii) increase shareholder control over remuneration and termination packages; and (iii) introduce potential personal liability for directors who authorise payments in violation of an approved policy.

These changes bound certain UK-incorporated quoted Life Sciences companies with effect from 1 October 2013. The government estimates that around 900 companies have been affected.
Continue Reading New Directors’ Remuneration Regime: The Facts for Life Sciences Companies

Hannah Edmonds, a trainee associate in Covington’s London office, contributed to this post.

Currently, legal  regimes governing protection of trade secrets and confidential information across the EU are fairly disparate. A study published by the European Commission in July (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/iprenforcement/docs/20130711/final-study_en.pdf)  has identified a ‘widespread appetite for a harmonized approach’ across the region. Harmonisation of the rules could be of significant financial and practical benefit to life sciences companies.

Ensuring that sensitive information (such as customer supply lists, R & D data and process know how and technology) is legally protected from misuse by employees, consultants, competitors and other third parties is a key concern in the life sciences sector. ‘Trade secrets’ often form the bedrock of a company’s assets. 75% of the 537 EU firms who responded to the Commission’s preparatory survey (some of which were SMEs in the life science sector) indicated that trade secrets were of significant strategic importance to their company’s growth, competitiveness and innovative performance.
Continue Reading A Move to Harmonise Trade Secret Laws Across Europe?

As reported in an earlier post, the European Commission (EC) is conducting a study of the top ten most burdensome EU laws for SMEs. This is part of an initiative – the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) – launched by the Commission in 2012 to ease the regulatory burden on SMEs in Europe. On 18 June 2013, the European Commission (EC) published the final results of its study and issued a number of recommendations to improve and simplify existing legislation, including onerous and costly employee-related legislation. The Commission recommendations in the employment context include:
Continue Reading Commission Issues Recommendations Aiming to Improve Costly Employee-Related Legislation for SMEs

Since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, the popularity of smart phones and tablets has sky-rocketed.  These devices, with their sleek design, touch screens and easy access to a myriad of entertainment options, have fast become the preferred method of communication for executives.

In recent years, a growing number of companies have allowed employees to forgo the less glamorous and often outdated technology assigned by their IT department and instead access corporate emails and data on their personal devices – a practice known as “bring your own device” to work, or “BYOD”.


Continue Reading “Bring Your Own Device to Work” – Can Life Sciences Employers Safely Embrace the Trend?

By Chris Bracebridge

In March 2013, the European Commission published preliminary results of its study of the top ten most burdensome EU laws for SMEs.  Employee-related legislation forms a significant part of that list, and is among the most costly and onerous.

The “top ten” study is part of an initiative — the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Program (REFIT) — launched by the Commission back in December 2012 to ease the regulatory burden on SMEs in Europe.  REFIT aims to scrutinize the European legislative and regulatory framework for gaps, burdens and inconsistencies in order to correct them.  The final results and any recommendations to improve and simplify existing legislation will be announced in June 2013.

In the employment context, the Commission is currently taking the following steps:
Continue Reading European Commission Set to Ease Regulatory Burden on SMEs: Key Implications for Life Sciences Employers

Article originally published in PLC Life Sciences Handbook 2012

M&A in the life sciences sector has remained robust, driven by factors such as:

  • „„ The need to replenish shrinking product pipelines.
  • „„ The need to maintain revenues as patents on top-selling
  • products expire.
  • „„ The strategic diversification of business lines.
  • „„ Expansion into emerging markets.

Originally published as Covington E-Alert on June 15, 2011

The U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has recently issued the final version of its guidance on the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which implement Directive 2008/104/EC.

The Regulations come into force on 1 October 2011, and will entitle agency workers (or “temps”) to the

Article originally published in PLC Life Sciences Handbook 2009/2010

Many life science companies rely on their employees’ inventiveness to fuel their research and development (R&D) efforts and generate patents. The most successful inventions can generate billions of euros of sales annually. In some circumstances, the employees who created the patentable inventions may be entitled to