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Valeriya DYACHENKO | Juscutum Attorneys Association
Companies are trying to keep pace with rapid development of technologies. In pursuit of customers’ favor and under conditions of tough competition, business is seeking to expand its services and, therefore, integrate in related fields.
Nowadays, it is difficult to find a telecommunication, media or technological company in its pure form. Each company provides a minimum set of services: Internet, television, mobile applications, etc. The positive side of this is that companies are shifting away from “grey zones” and trying to legalize their activities to the maximum.
In 2017, classical directions prevailed, such as intellectual property, corporate and transaction issues, disputes settlement and legislative work in the fields of technology, mass media and telecommunication.
Cryptocurrencies became a trend in 2017.
The services started from issuing a White Paper to selection of new comfortable legislations, tax structuring, legalization of professional market players.
Trends in 2018 will be focused on information security, cyber security, confidentiality and personal data protection. Issues related to cryptocurrencies and professional market players will remain relevant.
The impulse for such forecasts has become adoption of the EC General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and in Ukraine — the Law on Basic Principles of Ukraine’s Cyber Security. Currently, the consulting service is teetering on the brink of technical and legal issues.
Not to be left behind, lawyers should provide themselves with a technical back end. Otherwise, all recommendations worked out will remain impractical pieces of advice from humanitarians.
Yuriy KOTLIAROV | Asters
We did not witness any serious changes in Ukrainian telecom law in 2017. Many of the legislative proposals, particularly those aimed at approximating Ukrainian telecom law to EU regulations in the sector, were put away for “better” times. Thus, the regulation of the telecom sector in Ukraine remains almost unchanged.
Yet, some changes, nevertheless, did take place.
First, on 4 June 2017 the Law On Access to Objects of Civil Works, Transportation, and Electric Energy Systems for Telecommunications Networks Deployment came into effect. The law aims to facilitate the roll-out of telecommunications networks and render access to, and use of, physical infrastructures by telecom network operators more transparent and effective.
Second, another notable change is the Law On Electronic Trust Services that comes into force in the autumn of 2018. The act lays down the groundwork for the provision of trusted electronic services in Ukraine, in particular, for MobileID. Mobile services providers have already voiced their intentions to introduce this service.
Third, it is also worth mentioning the Concept on Development of Digital Economy and Society for 2018-2020 adopted by the Government. One of the objectives of this Concept is to eliminate the digital divide in Ukraine. The Concept sparked a great deal of heated discussion among network operators, both fixed and mobile, on the best ways to eliminate this digital divide, particularly regarding which technology is more effective in ensuring access to the Internet to users in rural and remote areas.
At the beginning of 2018 the national regulator successfully held two 4G-auctions for the radio spectrum in the 1.8 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands. The amount that three mobile operators should pay for the right to use LTE technologies for 15 years in the auctioned bands comes to UAH 8.39 billion. Ukraine was the last country in Europe to introduce 4G services.
Alongside the radio spectrum policy adopted in EU countries, we believe that the Ukrainian telecom regulator is continuing the process of refarming and liberalizing the radio spectrum further in other LTE-bands, particularly in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands, to make more effective use of that spectrum.
Among the main issues that telecom operators addressed to law firms were disputes with antitrust and other Government bodies and the financing of transactions.
If the basic legislative proposals in the telecom sector are adopted, we expect further liberalization of access to the telecom market and more aggressive involvement of the national regulator in the regulation of operators with significant market power.
Sayenko Kharenko has a long-standing position of top practice, providing IT advice to corporate clients and assisting large IT outsourcing and product companies, cutting-edge IT start-ups, buyers of IT services on software development matters, mobile applications and gaming; cybersecurity. Drawing on its notable transactional strength the firm supports the IT implications of M&A transactions, investments, corporate and tax structuring. Its diverse offering encompasses regulatory advice, covering data protection and cloud computing matters; sophisticated commercial agreements and tax incentives, advertising and content production, network distribution. Recent experience also includes acting on projects in the developing areas of cryptocurrency, ICO and blockchain. Selected recent TMT clients include Electronic Arts,HP, Livestream, Kyivstar, NOVOMATIC AG, U&Sluno. Notable projects include advising HP on Ukrainian law matters as to its USD 1.05 billion acquisition of the global printer business of Samsung Electronics; acting for American video game company Electronic Arts in relation to prize promotion issues. It is noteworthy that the firm maintains the design patents portfolio of NOVOMATIC AG, a leading full service provider in the online gaming market in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The team is led by two partners, Nazar Chernyavsky (especially noted for his fintech expertise) and Oleksandr Padalka (IP assignments). Highly recognized Mykyta Polatayko1, IT group coordinator, is endorsed for his wealth knowledge of the IT industry. Oleg Klymchuk, counsel, leads IT-related IP work. Serhiy Verlanov2, tax partner, was noted for taxation of cryptocurrency transactions, tax structuring of ICO projects.
DLA Piper has a strong track record advising an impressive list of global technology, telecom and media clients. Given its international footprint the office acts regularly on Ukrainian matters of global deals, and most recently advised Aristocrat Leisure, one of the largest global manufacturers of gaming solutions, on its successful acquisition of developer Plarium Global. The firm consistently demonstrates a rising portfolio of telecom instructions, being instructed by leading global telecom corporations. The integrated team with IP practice is instructed on a full spectrum of areas in trademark, patent and copyright infringement, licensing and distribution. The recent portfolio included advice on structuring outsourcing operations, support of software development, acquisition of IP rights to software developed in Ukraine and technology transfer, e-commerce, electronic money, etc. Its select client list includes Vocera Communications Inc., Payoneer, CEB, ZeniMax, Discovery, Naspers. The practice is headed by partner Natalia Pakhomovska. Well-known among the IT legal community Olena Vardamatska joined the team last year from Wolf Theiss.
The multidisciplinary IT/TMT practice group of Baker McKenzie is enlisted on its broad international network, advising a prestigious multinational client base on cross-border and domestic matters. The firm is the primary counsel for many global tech clients seeking advice on their investments in Ukraine. Tech and telecom clients are advised on how to launch their innovative services and products including international search engines, gaming companies, platforms, social networks, payment networks, and prominent producers of electronic devices. The team also advises international technology companies on contracts with local outsourcing players, acquiring local teams of software developers, Ukrainian technologies, etc. The practice group is also enlisted for compliance and a broad range of regulatory issues, corporate structuring, protecting IP rights, employment. Oleksiy Stolyarenko, senior associate, was appointed head and coordinator of the IT/TMT industry group at the Kyiv office. The dedicated practitioners from different practice groups are guided by corporate/M&A and private equity partner Viacheslav Yakymchuk, and IP partner Ruslan Drobyazko.
Axon Partners, a sizeable niche Ukrainian firm, is fully dedicated to sector work, including all major areas across a broad TMT sector. The firm has two offices in Kyiv and a growing outfit in Lviv. The expertise is sharpened to industry specifics spanning across contract law, IP, litigation, corporate law, domestic and international tax. The firm has an established niche advising IT outsourcing companies (MLSDev, IDAP, ImageX, ShipHawk, etc.) on a regular basis. On the transactional front the recent highlights to note are representing Grossum in its merger with App Solutions; support for the deal of a partnership between Gravitec, a start-up, one of the winners of the Radar-tech accelerator, powered by Kyivstar, and Kyivstar. This past year a new sub-practice FinTech dealing with legal support of fundraising campaigns for blockchain-based companies was set up. The dedicated practice provides legal assistance to initial coin offerings, setting up of crypto funds and crypto exchanges. For example, the firm represented DAO Casino in an ICO starting from choosing a jurisdiction for incorporation, right until successfully raising funds; supported DMarket on the pre-sale of tokens. The firm develops following among telecom players, and advises Hosting Ukraine, one of the biggest hosting providers in Ukraine and provides full legal support for Infobip — Global Communications Platform — in Ukraine. Significant clients of the team encompass BlaBlaCar, rabota.ua, Datas/Egar, 908.vc, DAO.Casino, Invisible, Heliclub, MyHelix, TaaS Fund, Beetroot, Dream Team, Infobip, GR Capital, Attic Lab, DMarket, Gravitec, Play Hall, POA Network, Crowdin, Vertalab, LikarniCOM. Denys
Beregovyi is active on the telecommunications front. Bodacious Dima Gadomsky, CEO, is among the most active IT lawyers in the country. Nazar Polyvka received endorsements from peers for his ICO knowledge. Among other rainmakers are Orest Gavrylyak, Yuriy Kornaga, Bogdan Duchak.
For a number of years IT practice remains one of the core industrial focuses at ILF Law Firm, a Ukrainian firm with offices in Kharkiv and Kyiv. The firm has a distinct profile in outsourcing and product segments of the IT market, and strong ties with a wide range of domestic and international market players. The team’s core strength is domestic and international corporate and tax structuring, outsourcing and software development contracts. The firm is known for its unique expertise of establishment of R&D centers, consistent advice on data protection, confidentiality and technology transfer. Most recently the firm has exceled in transactional projects. For example, it advised EchoStar Corporation on implementing a global M&A deal with Dish Network on change of control over Ukrainian assets. Another highlight is support to SciForce in connection with an acquisition offer from a US corporation focused on medical data processing and analytics. Select clients include Dish Network, SPS Ukraine, Brightgrove, Provectus, Distributed Lab, InsArt, X1 Group, ILSOR, Disquire (Deuterium Wars). Dedicated IT partner Anton Zinchuk is active in several areas, including software, IT outsourcing, corporate structuring and transactions.
The combined IP/IT law practice of ADER HABER (the team previously worked as part of Spenser & Kauffmann) is expanding its presence on the IT market. The recent portfolio includes elaborating contractual structures regarding software development; support for creation of IT start-ups; advice on outsourcing services. The firm has notable expertise in gaming industry, on-line platforms and applications, transfer of personal data. For example, the team provided legal support for licensing of technology for creating a new game product; supported establishment the operation processes of a large IT-application. Selected clients are YANDEX.TAXI Ukraine, Yandex N.V., Happy Star Games, developer of videogames, IEAMS, Inc., US IT company, GillSoft Technology GmbH,IT start-up, which developed a huge on-line platform for selling tickets for international coach travel. Tatiana Kharebava, counsel, heads the practice. She was extremely active last year3.
AEQUO excels in both IT andtelecommunication fields, including particular strength in transactional mandates, specific regulation and litigation, being widely admired for its impressive IP practice. The team renders advice to Lohika Inc. on the sale of Lohika Ukraine to Altran Group; supported VRenetic Inc. on incorporation of the Ukrainian subsidiary of a US-based software developer and equipment producer in interactive virtual reality sphere. The team is also enlisted to support foreign IT companies in entering Ukrainian market, advises on business structuring, tax implications, compliance, personal data protection. Other recent legal support includes a transaction on the sale of an e-money business in Ukraine. It is noteworthy that the team attracts market praise for strong research initiatives of the Ukrainian TMT sector, and active role in the development of legal tech. AEQUO has a well-established position in the telecom sector, being preferred by leading names in the sector, and spanning expertise to cable, satellite and telecoms media. The team acts on telecom service agreements, compliance, data protection, and high-profile litigation. The practice is co-led by two partners: Anna Babych, partner, corporate and M&A, and Oleksandr Mamunya, responsible for IP.
The dedicated IT practice of Arzinger is the integrated cross-practice team consisting of practitioners from different areas of law. The firm advises transactions, and provided extensive support for Centrica plc, on the Ukrainian part of acquisition of assets of Rokitt Inc. and their proprietary Rokitt Astra Technology. The team is enlisted to support IT business restructuring, protection of intellectual property, personal data, tax. Its recent project portfolio covered developing contracts for cooperation between international customers and Ukrainian software developers; assignment of IP rights; e-commerce and internet-platform; issues relating to UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and their use in Ukraine. Other clients include Sanofi Aventis Ukraine LLC, Softline, SABIS, Merck & Co., Inc., Spina Technology Ltd, Brain Basket Foundation Charitable Fund, Privax Ltd, ASBIS Ukraine LLC, Fadaat Media Ltd, Tatem Games. Pavlo Khodakovsky, partner, heads the tax and IT practices. Kateryna Oliinyk, partner, heads IP.
The highly-regarded team of Asters acts for an impressive roster of foreign clients, including key players across TMT area.The team has a wealth of expertise in software development projects, technology and software licensing, transfer of IP rights, data protection, use of electronic signatures. This big practice is often enlisted by foreign companies for structuring investment and corporate support. Asters is known for having prominent telecom clients on board, and possessed expertise on network interconnection, access, licensing, project finance, loan facilities for mobile operators and fixed telephony operators. Clients include Motorola Solutions, Tyco Electronics, The Foundry Visionmongers Limited. The multidisciplinary workflow is handled by several partners — Julia Semeniy (IP), Vadym Samoilenko (corporate). Managing partner Oleksiy Didkovskiy has a long-standing presence on the market. Yuriy Kotliarov (previously worked in Juscutum Attorneys Association) joined the firm as a partner and head of TMT practice.
AVELLUM maintains strong dedication to act as a Ukrainian law counsel within the framework of multi-jurisdictional technology related transactions. For example, the firm advised CPPIB on its investment in Global Logic Inc., one of the top-5 global outsourced product developers headquarters, where the firm covered issues of Ukrainian law. Other landmark work is advising Uber Group on obtaining merger control clearance for the creation of a joint venture with Yandex Group. The firm has expertise in structuring employment of IT-developers, IP rights transfer, software development agreements, blockchain technology. AVELLUM advised GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar, on the transfer of proprietary IP rights to an e-commerce platform developed by Ukrainian software developers. Mykola Stetsenko is a lead partner.
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang is a point of choice for international technology and major telecom companies on sophisticated regulatory assignments and sector specific transactions, commercial and contract law matters, data protection. The firm also supports operators and private equity firms in M&A transactions, including the acquisition of fixed-line, cable and mobile operators and a pan-Ukrainian “dark fibre” line. The Kyiv team also leads specific regulatory support in relation to satellite broadband Internet connection services. Other areas of expertise include leasing of telecommunication circuits and telecommunication equipment; operational issues regarding data centres. The practice is led by two partners, Olexander Martinenko and Olga Belyakova.
Ukrainian law firm EVERLEGAL demonstrated rapid growth of its IT clientele, and a series of wins of cross-border instructions. The firm supports product companies, outsources, developers and IT investors. The transactional team acts incorporate restructurings and sale of Ukrainian IT business to foreign investors. In a recent highlight the firm advised an IT outsourcing company on various intellectual property rights assignment and transfer matters, personal data compliance (including GDPR), procurement, contract issues, incentive plans. Along with big clients, the team also advises on how to establish a start-up business, related corporate matters and general advice on operational matters. The IT dedicated partner is Oleksandr Ruzhytskiy. Yevheniy Deyneko, managing partner, is at the front of corporate and M&A.
Gramatskiy & Partners grows its practice expanding client portfolio from start-ups to software giants, as well as telecommunications companies, developers, investors, cloud providers and server companies. The firm regularly advises foreign investors on acquisition of Ukrainian IT companies including support in formalizing rights to created IP objects and technology transfer. A big number of recent projects related to IT service agreements on acquiring software produced by local developers. The team possesses additional expertise in corporate and project financing of IT services, structuring holding companies, tax and employment structuring. Over the last couple of years the firm has developed its media-focused practice, spanning expertise to TV and radio broadcasting, Internet media, digital, advertising and production. The firm advised on copyright in terms of creation and sale of mobile applications, services and games; contracts for sale of video and music contacts throughout mobile applications. Selected clients are CALLFIN LLC, ASTARTES LLC, WHITE RHINO LLC, Skywind Tech UA, PTS UA Services LLC, KSTT, LABS TECH, SB TECH, All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition, Ditrade LLC, Finrostorg Group, etc. Igor Reutov is in charge of the IT industry. Ernest Gramatskiy actively develops the firm’s offering and is involved in many projects.
Juscutum Attorneys Association, a member of World IT lawyers, global alliance, is a highly recognized domestic law firm with a sharp focus on TMT. The team was visible throughout the past year, boosting support start-up and project investment, contracts with developers, project acceleration, support for ICO projects. In a recent highlight the firm advised Space of the Future on incorporation of multifunctional co-working; and acted for Propy, Inc. on the first transaction on acquisition of real estate for cryptocurrencies in Ukraine; supported A2B Direct in an ICO project. Regulatory advice in the field of telecommunications is an essential part of the practice. The firm advised Vodafone Ukraine on 4G tender issues; and Lifecell on copyright for launching a mobile music application. Artem Afian, managing partner, heads the practice and is among the top-recognized figures on the market. Among the key leads are senior associates: Nestor Dubnevych,developscrypto-technologies projects, Valeriya Dyachenko, dealing withinformation security, and Katherine Karasyova, dedicated to telecommunications.
Ilyashev & Partners is noted primarily for its well-established presence in litigation pertaining to the telecommunications sector. The firm handles a number of representations of TV and radio broadcasting companies on debt recovery for telecommunication services. The firm represented National Content Center LLC in its dispute with Content Trade (Triolan telecom network) on enforcement of licensing agreement for re-broadcasting rights. Another area of recent focus is intellectual property in film production. The highlights in this field include advising Universal Pictures International on copyright transfer on dubbed versions of films between production studios and authors; supporting Mars Media Entertainment and its beneficiary in the investment projects of creating a movie. Among significant clients are Inter Media Group, Ciklum, Sitroniсs Telecom Solutions. Milkhail Ilyashev, managing partner, is the core contact.
Dentons advises a big portfolio of clients on transactions and a variety of IP matters, regulatory, tax, corporate, employment. The firm’s geographical spread gives an advantage for obtaining cross-border work. This past year the firm advised on complex matters between customers and IT service providers, and showed expertise in software development agreements and e-commerce issues. Another recent development is providing advice on fintech. Four partners, namely Oleg Batyuk, Markian Silecky, Adam Mycyk and Natalia Selyakova,lead the projects from the TMT area.
Konnov & Sozanovsky is a long-standing player on the legal market, enlisted for business structuring, IP rights protection and transfer, tax and labor issues, data protection. The firm recently advised Caterpillar Financial on personal data regulation and protection. Its specific expertise is telemarketing and advertising. The team is led by partner Helen Yaremchuk, who advised an innovative international software vendor focused on powerful office solutions development and integration on establishing a software development center in Ukraine. Alexander Molotai, who joined this team, became head of the IP practice.
In 2017 the Ukrainian office of Kinstellar developed its sector expertise, and received queries from significant sector players like telecom, technology, software, as well as private equity. The recent scope of work included data protection, sector-specific regulatory and compliance, competition law. The firm has a well-established offering across jurisdictions of its presence, being enlisted for significant sector-related transactions across the region. Kinstellar Kyiv advised a US multinational online transport network company on corporate and general commercial matters regarding launch of its operations in Ukraine. Andriy Nikiforov, counsel, heads the TMT in Kyiv.
Vasil Kisil & Partners is instructed bysoftware developers, IT start-uppers, IT co-working platforms. The firm’s expertise spans to regulatory, transactions, intellectual property, labor and employment, tax and litigation. This past year the firm experienced a flow of queries for drafting template agreements for IT developers to secure IP rights for developed software. Another highlight is advising Olswang/Gamesys, an English software developer of online gaming applications on engaging Ukrainian software developers for software development and testing. The IP practice led by Ilarion Tomarov (joined from Taylor Wessing Ukraine) was involved in TMT specific instructions.
Synergy IP Law Agency is ahighly-specialized team with a dedicated focus on intellectual property and tax. The team is known for rendering subsequent offering to IT clients, being especially referred for a well-established litigation service, copyright and trademarks, transactional IP. The firm represented Television Channel 360 regarding the registration of two trademarks for telecommunication services, as well as services for organizing various events. Recent projects on tax consulting included giving advice to LLC Innover Ukraineon the taxation of operations with software, updates, subscriptions and cloud solutions, development of an agency agreement for the distribution of software with a client’s partners. Both partners Viktoriia Ostapchuk and Anna Kravchuk are visible on the market.
Eterna Law advises both start-ups and multinational corporations, local and foreign investors on corporate and M&A, tax, IP, and litigation, including discharging worldwide freezing injunctions. The firm also acts on structuring share deals representing private investors. Eterna has an office in Russia, and advised FoodFoxon an investment by Alexandr Cherniyak in the company, which is active in the food and beverage sector in Russia. The practice is led by two partners, Oleh Malskyy, handling corporate and transactions, and Oleh Beketov, who is in charge of disputes.
GOLAW advises on the specifics of employment in the IT sector (contractual relations with employees, software developers), commercial and corporate matters, licensing, tax and compliance. Among the clients are Dreamscape Networks, Gamingtec, ProLeI.T., Shepherd CMMS, Ubisoft. Valentyn Gvozdiy, managing partner, is the key contact.
EY Ukraine’s main area of expertise is in personal data protection and ongoing legal support of IT companies. The team handled business structuring services for a Ukrainian start-up with foreign investments. Albert Sych, partner, is the main figure.
Gryphon Legal is known primarily for advising on regulatory matters in the financial sector. The firm possesses expertise of projects related to e-commerce, international mobile payments and electronic money. It also advises on data protection and privacy, IT due diligence and compliance. The team recently implemented a project on establishing and launching a non-bank domestic payment system. Other issues of coverage include tax, currency regulations and intellectual property. Helen Lynnyk and Igor Lynnyk are the core figures.
Advice Group, a domestic law firm based in Lviv, rapidly developed its offering for IT clients. This spans to supporting client relationship and contractual review, tax structuring and corporate governance issues, GDPR and cyber-security matters. The team advises international IT firms with development offices in Ukraine. Clients include Symphony Solutions, Conscensia, Echovox, Banks for Institutions, Freetour.com, SearchIT. Anton Podilchak is the core rainmaker, who also boosts the firm’s compliance practice.
Bachynskyy, Kolomiets & Partners, is one of the few local counsels in Lviv with a standalone practice servicing IT clientele. The expertise includes IT business formation, taxation, employment matters, and sector specific IP, including registration of copyright for computer programs. The client roster numbers big IT companies as well as IT start-ups and projects. Taras Bachynskyy is a lead partner with key contribution from Nataliia Vasylechko.
Ante Law Firm receives more assignments from its established aviation clientele, and gets more involved in the media sector. The firm acts on behalf of Qatar Airways to close a fake Ukrainian web-site purporting to be that of the airline. The team’s highlight is involvement in a number of current projects related to establishing an independent public broadcaster in Ukraine. Kateryna Ishchenko leads the practice.
Odessa-based Jurline has a practice on advising clients in the field of media and advertising, which include LLC Teleradiocompany ART (7 channel) and TTV-DOM. Svitlana Panova is the lead partner.
Local law firm ePravo arrangeslegal support for prospective start-ups. The team’s major clients are Astrafit, Lucidica, MyDutyFree, Acronym Systems. Vitalii Vlasiuk is the main contact.
1 In April 2018 he joined AEQUO as head of the IT industry group.
2 In July 2018 Serhiy Verlanov was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine.
3 In June 2018 she left in-house.
- Artem Afian (Juscutum Attorneys Association)
- Nazar Chernyavsky (Sayenko Kharenko)
- Valeriya Dyachenko (Juscutum Attorneys Association)
- Dima Gadomsky (Axon Partners)
- Oleg Klymchuk (Sayenko Kharenko)
- Anna Kravchuk (Synergy IP Law Agency)
- Oleksandr Mamunya (AEQUO)
- Viktoriya Ostapchuk (Synergy IP Law Agency)
- Oleksandr Padalka (Sayenko Kharenko)
- Natalia Pakhomovska (DLA Piper Ukraine)
- Mykyta Polatayko (AEQUO)
- Nazar Polyvka (Axon Partners)
- Julia Semeniy (Asters)
- Oleksiy Stolyarenko (Baker McKenzie)
- Olena Vardamatska (DLA Piper Ukraine)
- Anton Zinchuk (ILF Law Firm)