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Controversial Business Moves: Have Amazon Gone Too Far?

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Amazon are a marketplace giant, and their combination of a huge choice of products, low prices, and fast delivery options have seen them wipe the floor with their competitors. It’s even claimed that whole industries have been almost wiped out by the online retailer’s presence. But, where there is brilliance, there is often also controversy. Amazon is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of their most controversial business moves of late!

Packaging

Let’s start with what is perhaps the one thing that we’ve all experienced when shopping with Amazon that has left a sour taste in our mouths: packaging. Now, we live in a world where we’re becoming increasingly aware of the detrimental effects that human activity is having on our planet. One of the main man-made problems posing a threat to our beloved Earth? Waste. We use so many products on a day to day basis that are seen as disposable, and we often throw many products and most packaging away after just a single use. The UK produces around 30.5 million tonnes of waste every single year. Within the EU, people produce around half a tonne of waste per person, and with over 500 million inhabitants, this figure quickly mounts up. America is said to produce 250 million tonnes of garbage on an annual basis. So, when many of us shop, we expect responsible large-scale businesses to use as little packaging as possible and to, preferably, send our purchases in recyclable materials. Sure, this may cost a little more and take a little more time, after all, you’ll have to pick packaging options logically rather than throwing every item into the first box that catches the supplier’s eye, but surely it’s worth it. It really isn’t all too surprising that Amazon causes outrage on a regular basis when they have been reported to send items as small as a phone charger in a box large enough for your small kids and cats to make a fort from. Now, the company has tried to justify this behaviour by saying that they optimise for the whole rather than the individual. Theorist Alexander Savin noted on his twitter feed that “Amazon uses a complicated software system to determine the box size that should be used based on what else is going in the same truck and the exact size of the cargo bay. It is playing an automated Tetris with the packages. Sometimes it will select a larger box because there is nothing else that needs to go out on that specific truck, and by making it bigger, it is using up the remaining space, so items don’t slide around and break. This actually minimises waste and is on the whole q (sic) greener system. Even if for some individual item it looks weird.” While this is an interesting theory, the tweet received all sorts of lash back from people refuting the theory. Many believe that the genuine reason for entirely environmentally unfriendly packaging is because Amazon promises such fast delivery that workers have just a matter of seconds to grab the nearest box or packaging to get the item out on time.

Drone Delivery

Again, convenience has come hand in hand with another complaint for the big bosses at Amazon. Sure, we’re all now familiar with Amazon Prime, a service which offers guaranteed next day delivery on a whole host of items. But have you heard of Amazon Prime Air? This is a fully autonomous system where a drone (otherwise known as an aerial vehicle) without a human pilot can deliver goods to customers within 30 minutes or less of completing their order. Sounds like something from the future, right? While this service hasn’t yet been launched by the company, it is in development and trial, and Amazon hopes that one day seeing an Amazon drone delivering goods by air will be as common a sight as seeing one of their delivery trucks travelling down the highway. People, expectedly, have a lot of questions surrounding the practice. They want to know how heavy the goods that this method could deliver can be (the answer, so far, is five pounds), where they are testing (there are currently trials in the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, France, and Israel), and whether weather will affect the service (the company claim that they aim to operate in daylight when there are low winds, there’s good visibility, and a lack of rain, snow, or ice). Perhaps the most important issue on our minds, however, is how Amazon intends to navigate the airspace in each given country, as drones are a risk to planes. This is still being negotiated, so perhaps it will be a while before we really do see these plans come into practice and public use.

Live Purchases

Perhaps the most recent controversy associated with this retail giant is its delivery of live animals. The company has been slammed by animal activists and many consumers alike for offering home delivery of live animals such as lobsters and crabs. Not only is the method of boiling these creatures alive for consumption cruel in and of itself and something that shouldn’t be promoted at all (nevermind in the home and left to the hands of inexperienced and unprofessional cooks), they can also face the cruel fate of being left in boxes for days as they make their way from supplier to consumer. This is a sad case of sentient creatures being treated like commodities on a whole new level. Many customers have since cancelled their accounts completely, stating that they will not return to Amazon until they cease this cruel practice.

As you can see, Amazon is no stranger to controversy, and some of the decisions that they have made in their process of trying to meet the mass market’s needs and expectations really have backfired. However, where there is a complaint, there is room for improvement, and hopefully, they will begin to take customer feedback into account, ensuring that their business becomes as eco-friendly, safe, and cruelty-free as possible!

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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ILMAP leads the way in quality for all types of water management hardware

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water management

For over 50 years ILMAP have been developing and refining the technology and materials used in the installation and management of water management. Using the wealth of experience gained through all those years in the field, they have been able to build a wide range of products that meet a huge range of specifications.

Specialising in nozzles, traps, collectors and other accessories, their products have a wide range of application across the production of drinking water and demineralized water, treatment of waste water and filtration and water treatment  for the pharmaceutical and food industry. With so much experience and innovation ILMAP is one of the leading filter nozzle manufacturers in the world.

Filter nozzles for water treatment for industrial and residential uses

Specialists Ilmap – Filter Nozzles Made in Italy provide a wide range of water filter nozzles  and nozzle strainer for water treatment.

Across industrial applications, the products cater for a variety of industries, including electricity  power generation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the food and beverage industry and the agricultural sector. But is also developed for domestic uses, such as in home swimming pools, irrigation and water softening filters.

Application can range from industrial water treatment and waste water treatment to water purification and ion exchange systems, all with the highest quality and safety at the forefront of development.

Parts are produced by state of the art modern injection moulding machines, known for reliability  and high standards of finish. Customers are always at the forefront and ILMAP prides itself on offering the best in customer service. With more than 700 m2 of warehouse, supply is assured and delivery procedures set to fixed lead times, so work can be planned accordingly.

It is not only nozzles, ILMAP also produces resin traps that guarantee effective protection against material losses in your system, in materials like plastic and stainless less as required.

Quality products in the best materials for the job

ILMAP has put a huge amount of effort in the research and development of their products over the years combining experience with the latest materials and efficient production processes.

The focus has been to ensure the best quality products, with dimensional accuracy and repeatability in the production time and design. Also a key focus is compliance with standard measurement and the control of the raw materials in production. So confident in their passion for good practices, they will open their factory for both client inspections and for certification bodies to review the procedures and controls.

With a fully functional test laboratory to allow testing of the pressure drop of the nozzles and the correct certifications available, it is easy to have confidence in the products.

Independently certified for guaranteed quality

All products are manufactured with top quality materials purchased from leading suppliers. Polypropylene, PVDF, ABS and masterbatches used are certified by the manufacturer for contact with drinking water according to the main current world regulations.

Even once the raw materials have entered production, and so the raw material certification becomes invalid, the final products are also audited at authorised laboratories gaining the following certifications:

ITALY – D.M. 174 del 06.05.2004

FRANCE – ACS Certification

UNITED KINGDOM – WRAS – BS 6920 Approved Material

“Suitability of non-metallic products for use in contact with water intended for human
consumption with regard to their effect on the quality of the water”

EUROPE – Food Safety Regulation – (EU) 10/2011 & 1935/2004 EC

“materials and articles intended to come into contact with food”.

All offering reassurance for the purchaser in the standards that are applied, especially where the products come into contact with potable water. It is very important for any company involved in the purification or management of water to ensure that their suppliers follow these standards, and ILMAP are well prepared to meet them as part of their core principles of manufacturing.

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Dawn Ellmore Employment reviews the shock defeat for McDonald’s as it’s stripped of its ‘Big Mac’ EU trade mark

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mc donalds europe EU

For more than half a century McDonald’s has been a recognisable brand in just about every country you can think of. According to its website, the chain has restaurants in 101 countries. Its 36,000+ restaurants serve around 69 million fast food fans every single day.

With stats like this, and McDonald’s easily recognised by just about anybody, the recent EU trade mark ruling has surprised many. McDonald’s has just lost its EU trade mark for the Big Mac in what is dubbed a ‘David and Goliath’ battle with a small Irish chain.

How did McDonald’s lose its Big Mac EU trade mark?

When Supermac’s took on the might of McDonald’s in a trade mark battle, it was assumed by many that the smaller chain would lose. While Supermac’s may not be a household name in the UK, however, it’s much loved in Ireland.

Now the largest fast food chain in Ireland, Supermac’s began in 1978 and today has more than 110 franchises and restaurants all over the country. Founded by Pat and Una McDonagh, it was named after his nickname, ‘Supermac’ when he played Gaelic football. They also own Claddagh Irish Pubs & Restaurants through Supermac’s Ireland Ltd.

The EU trade mark battle

Supermac’s has been locked into an ongoing fight with McDonald’s since 2015, when it announced plans to expand into the EU and UK. McDonald’s initially objected to Supermac’s registering a number of trade marks for products and its name. They argued that the names McDonald’s and Supermac’s are too similar and would cause customer confusion. McDonald’s further argued that the Supermac’s brand name is visually too similar to their trade mark.

Supermac’s responded by pointing out that they had happily traded at the same time as McDonald’s in Ireland for more than 30 years with no signs of confusion on the part of customers.

Initially, McDonald’s won a part-victory when the European Union’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) decided that Supermac can continue to trade in its own name within the EU. However, it rejected the Irish company’s trade mark applications for various products and menu items, saying that consumers might “be confused as to whether Supermac’s is a new version of McDonald’s”, given that there are near-identical products sold by both restaurant chains.

Revoking McDonald’s EU trade marks

In January 2019, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) made a decision that allows victory to Supermac’s after all. By ruling that EU trade marks owned by McDonald’s are to be revoked, Supermac’s is clear to expand into the rest of the EU.

The landmark decision went into effect immediately, on the basis that the EUIPO rules that McDonald’s had failed to prove “genuine use” of its Big Mac trade mark as a restaurant or menu item.

Unsurprisingly delighted, Pat McDonagh says: “Never mind David versus Goliath, this unique landmark decision is akin to the Connacht team winning against the All Blacks. This is the end of the McBully. Just because McDonald’s has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context, doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner.”

How the fight played out

In April 2017, Supermac’s requested that the EUIPO cancel McDonald’s trade mark for ‘Big Mac’ and ‘Mc’. The chain also accused the US giant of “trade mark bullying” by registering and gaining protection for names, but not actually using them to stamp down any potential competition.

On its part, McDonald’s legal representatives provided signed affidavits from high level executives and showed examples of packaging and adverts to demonstrate it serves Big Macs right across the EU, and therefore deserves to retain the EU trade mark for that specific product.

However, the EUIPO deemed this “insufficient” in its judgement. As trade marks are registered at national level and at the EU, McDonald’s does not lose all of its protection for the Big Mac. They also have the right to appeal, which we suspect they are likely to do.

Supermac’s forges ahead

For Supermac’s, all eyes are on the future. Mr McDonagh says: “This now opens the door for the decision to be made by the European trade mark office to allow us to use our SuperMac as a burger across Europe.”

A representative from EIP, an intellectual property law firm, Carissa-Kendall Windless, says: “This decision is a significant one, partly because it serves as a warning to multinational companies that they can no longer simply file trade mark applications without a genuine intention to use it”.

It’s inevitable that McDonald’s will exercise its right to appeal, and it will be interesting to see how this David and Goliath battle goes on this year.

About Dawn Ellmore Employment

Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.

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Dawn Ellmore Employment analyses Heineken’s trade mark application for 2026 World Cup

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heineken beer dawn

Dutch giant Heineken has made a strong statement regarding its connection with football with a trade mark application to be named the “Official Beer of Soccer” in the United States.

Heineken is the partner of Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional football league in the US. The recent trade mark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is particularly relevant given the pending arrival of the World Cup in the US in 2026.

Trade mark application gives indication of brand’s plans

The beer company is already positioned as the “Official Beer” of the league throughout its marketing collateral. However, the application shows that it wants to build on this and strive for full ownership of football in the US.

In 2018, Heineken signed a new partnership deal with MLS that goes through to 2022/23, clearly showing long-term ambition. Felix Palau is the Senior Vice-President of Marketing for Heineken. He says: “Since working with MLS, we’ve seen a huge spike in our pull with soccer fans and supporters, and we hope to continue this trend for the short and long term.”

And with the latest trade mark application, we can surmise that soccer in the US is working well for the long-standing European brand.

What does the trade mark application show?

The trade mark was filed at the USPTO on 4 January 2019. It’s likely that the application shows Heineken’s ambitions to block any potential rivals from linking with the World Cup in 2026, by firmly establishing itself as synonymous with US soccer. It’s certainly likely that there will be brands looking to leverage the same kind of connection during the World Cup.

For example, before 2018’s World Cup, US brand Budweiser usurped Carlsberg as the “official beer” of the English national football team. This was the biggest partnership deal in the Football Association’s history at the time. Not only did Budweiser sponsor the team, which did spectacularly well and revitalised UK interest in international football, it also took over the beer taps at Wembley Stadium. Budweiser also partners the FA Cup and helped to boost the increasing popularity of the brand in the UK. It’s highly likely that Budweiser will want to continue its links with the sport in its home country in the 2026 World Cup.

How popular would the move be?

If European based Heineken is granted the trade mark, it will be interesting to see how popular this would be with US fans. Following the news of the trade mark application, sports journalist Richard Gillis says: “I must’ve been out of the room when football fans were consulted on this. I’m assuming it’s legally binding and we’re all now required to drink Heineken on every football related occasions, with heavy fines for those caught drinking Bud or Carling.

“It’s a welcome trend, and a real timesaver on the part of sponsors and their agencies. No need for ideas or strategy: just declare yourself ‘Official Partner’ and wait for the love and affection of the football family to flow toward the brand. A masterstroke.”

While clearly a sarcastic response, this could indicate that Heineken’s move may not be embraced with open arms in the US.

How beer brands help grow sport

Heineken is no stranger to major sporting partnerships. Global partners of the brand include Formula 1, the UEFA Champions League, the Rugby World Cup and Formula E. In popular culture, the brand is also linked with major franchises, including Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

And it’s a two-way relationship, with MLS benefiting from the marketing money ploughed int the sport by partners like Heineken. The Managing Director and President of MLS Business Ventures, Gary Stevenson, says: “If we are good at solving the brands’ problems, then they will spend more money. That way we can tap into our partners’ marketing dollars and they can make our sport, league and players come alive. We can never have that amount of marketing dollars to do something similar. We’re reliant on them to build the sport.”

The USPTO takes at least six months to process trade mark applications, and Heineken is currently waiting to see whether it has been successful. As with so many major trade mark and patent applications, time will tell whether Heineken will be able to call itself the “Official Beer of Soccer”. With its background of strong support for the sport in the US since 2014, it would seem they have a strong chance.

About Dawn Ellmore Employment

Dawn Ellmore Employment was incorporated in 1995 and is a market leader in intellectual property and legal recruitment.

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