Advertising against Food Quotas
Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism (CCCT) has recently launched a campaign fighting the proposed amendment to the Food Act, introducing mandatory food quotas, that was quite surprisingly approved by the Parliament this January and has caused quite a stir. The proposed amendment (due to many formal and practical reasons) did not pass the Senate and the legislators were to debate it again on April 13, 2021. Therefore, the CCCT has decided to take an action and present the potential negative impact of such regulation to general public in the meantime by means of advertising.
The CCCT persistently keeps pointing out that passing such a law would not only considerably limit the supply and offer of most groceries, but would also lead to significant price increases. The self-sufficiency of the Czech Republic in the field of food is currently about 40 percent, but according to the proposed amendment, the share of Czech food on store shelves should reach 55 percent by 2022 and at least 73 percent by 2028. The issue is that even Czech farmers themselves admit that they are not able to meet even 50 percent of food supply, not to mention all the types of food that are not (and cannot) be produced in the Czech Republic at all.
In its expressive campaign, the CCCT showed on the example of five basic products (cucumber, tomato, sea salt, chili peppers and pate) that passing the quotas would lead to these foods no longer being available the way Czech people are used to. The campaign used concise slogans such as “Czech salt? IT DOESN’T EXIST.” or Czech pate? JUST 5 DAYS A YEAR.” to show the senselessness of the proposed amendment and to create public pressure against the quotas. The campaign was visible on on-line banners, TV spots, social media or the website drahejidlo.cz (meaning “expensive food” in Czech).
In the end, the proposed amendment to the Food Act was passed without the food quotas. What did pass the Parliament, though, was the provision banning “dual quality food”. That means seemingly identical food products sold in various EU countries under the same name and in the same package, but with substantially different food composition and ingredients.
The dual quality food has been a long-discussed topic in the Czech Republic and surveys confirm that 9 out of 10 Czech consumers consider it to be an unfair practice. The European Commission also dealt with this subject in its recent study, comparing the quality of food products of the same brand in EU countries. It revealed that approximately one third of examined products had different composition.
The new amendment therefore aims to end this ambiguity in quality of comparable food products by introducing strict sanctions. Retailers will now face fines of up to CZK 50 million for selling food products seemingly interchangeable with products sold in others member states, but with substantially different composition.
Business Bulletin No. 2/2021
Optimistic prognoses or guaranteed information regarding the end of the global pandemic of COVID-19 did (unfortunately) not come true, and we must therefore deal with this disease and its consequences more than a year after its official outbreak in the Czech Republic. Although we would all like to see that the situation is under control and the responsible authorities know exactly what to do and how, both the issued measures and related communication are still quite confusing. Therefore, we summarize for you the most important information about current development below – in particular the information on mandatory testing of employees in companies and related personal data issues, the newly effective Pandemic Act and the newly planned compensation programs COVID 2021 and COVID – Nepokryté náklady.
Sales promotion and equal access to health services
In cooperation with some private medical clinics that belong to the same group of companies in Czech Republic Prime Minister’s Trust Fund, Internet news server iDnes offered preferential orders and appointments for certain medical examinations or procedures as the main enticement for those who would subscribe to annual subscription of the news server, using a motto “Buy yourself a health for Christmas”.
As part of the benefit for subscribers, tests for COVID-19, MRI, above-standard ultrasonic tests or surgical and orthopaedic operations were offered. However, some of these procedures are largely covered by public health insurance and, for example, people usually wait for hip or knee surgery for a year.
Equal access to health services (covered by public health insurance) for all is one of the main principles of the public health insurance system in the Czech Republic. This principle is ensured at the constitutional level by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and further specified, for example, in the Act on Health Services and Conditions of their Provision or in the Anti-Discrimination Act. The legal regulations contain exhaustive list of situations in which a health care provider may refuse to accept a patient into care, or, with regard to the capacity of the facility and the patient’s health condition, set a reasonable waiting time. In other words, it is forbidden for the health care provider to reject the insured person without a reason, or make acceptance or priority treatment conditional to any financial payment (e.g. purchase of an annual subscription to the news server).
In this case, iDnes used the immoral factor of the current fear for health as part of the sales promotion of its subscription, and it would probably have worked out unless the legal regulations had not been fundamentally violated. In the case of preferential treatment of subscribers, the medical facility would in fact breach the law, for which they could not only be fined, but the health insurance company could and should terminate its contract with such facility. The reason is that the respective regulation contains a provision according to which it is not possible to lessen the availability of health care for insured persons because of the fact that they do not pay any extra fees. In such a case, iDnes would commit deceptive advertising, because it would not be able to ensure the priority treatment in medical facilities.
The entire campaign immediately became the subject of debates over suspected violations of the principles of public health insurance, including equal access to health care. iDnes therefore quickly adjusted its campaign – medical procedures are still offered with benefits, however, according to iDnes, they are no longer offered as priority treatment. Unfortunately, iDnes or medical clinics involved in the campaign were not subject to further investigation in this matter at all.
Business Bulletin No. 1/2021
We dedicate this first issue of Business Bulletin in 2021 to new regulations in Czech law, which either become effective on January 1, 2021 or in the beginning of 2021. Some of the changes have been awaited for a long time and published in the Collection of Laws many months ahead, while others waited for their publication until the very end of 2020. Out of many changes we choose those which may have a substantial impact to business and the functioning of business corporations.
Ambush marketing: A Global Legal Perspective
Ambush marketing can be briefly defined as a type of marketing by which a subject is trying to link itself or its activities with certain event or enterprise (typically major events such as olympic games or world championship) although it is not an official sponsor of such event, aiming to boost its business (sales and revenue) It is quite an aggressive marketing practice which, however, is not specifically resolved or defined in various countries around the world.
In new publication called „Ambush marketing: A Global Legal Perspective“ we and our GALA colleagues have summarized the current legal situation in the field of ambush marketing in almost 70 countries around the world – the publication is available for purchase here: https://amzn.to/2L6elfP. Chapter prepared by us and related to the situation in the Czech Republic is available for reading here: https://bit.ly/3pPNLXg.
GALA Report on Recent Global Advertising Law Developments 2020
With our colleagues from the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance, we have prepared a new report called “Recent Global Advertising Law Developments,” which highlights major advertising law developments around the world during 2020. The report covers developments in more than 50 countries — from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
The report highlights a wide range of legislative and self-regularly changes, as well as important regulatory enforcement and litigation. Topics covered include developments related to ambush marketing, customer reviews, environmental marketing, food advertising, native advertising, pharmaceutical advertising, privacy, social media, sweepstakes, and many others. The report also discusses how some countries responded to specific advertising issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our colleague Irena Lišková tackled a current topic of discounts, especially those designated as “Black Friday”. Particularly these discounts are rather a trap on customers since the prices are the same or even higher than before the discount. Nevertheless, this should end in the near future.
You may find the article on the GALA website here: http://blog.galalaw.com/post/102glpv/fake-friday
Fighting COVID-19 with “water of life”? Better not
Our colleague Ladislav Mádl addressed a current case of newspaper piece called “Fighting COVID-19 with water of life”, which was published in Lidové noviny (serious newspaper) but which more than a serious and objective news brought shame on the newspaper.
You may find the summary on the GALA website here: http://blog.galalaw.com/post/102glna/fighting-covid-19-with-water-of-life
Video-Sharing Platforms Regulation in the Czech Republic on the way
Within our participation in GALA, our colleague Ladislav Mádl prepared a new article regarding the upcoming legal regulation of video-sharing platforms (such as YouTube, Instagram or TikTok) in the Czech Republic.
You may find the article on the GALA website here: http://blog.galalaw.com/post/102gkl7/video-sharing-platforms-regulation-in-the-czech-republic-on-the-way
Business Bulletin No. 4/2020 – COVID EDITION III
The fourth issue of the Business Bulletin in 2020 is primarily dedicated to measures concerning COVID-19, both new prohibitions and restrictions as well as support programs and reliefs for entrepreneurs. In our case-law section, we have analysed the decision of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic dealing with replacement of a minutes from the general meeting in limited liability company (s.r.o.) by notarial deed and a new decision from Germany concerning a significant fine for processing personal data during the so-called “welcome back talks”. As a practical tip, we refer to a summary of the possibilities for foreigners to travel to the Czech Republic and Czech citizens to travel abroad. Finally, we would like to invite you to the third Business Brunch of this year, which will be focused in particular on lease of business premises.