Practices

Practices

Virgin’s unethical business practices against small start ups and non-profit foundations


When it comes to big business versus small business, the deck is, and always has been, heavily stacked in favor of the giants, makig sure it stays that way. Yes, there will always be David and Goliath stories held up as the reason for hope in these battles, but reality dictates that they are almost insurmountable obstacles in the path of a small entrepreneur.

There is, however, a more insidious and corruptive side to the competition that few, if any, really see or understand at all. The legal teams.

Companies like The Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson retain the type of law firms that see no ethical issue in destroying anything and anyone on their way, no matter the cost, the merits and the human lives and dreams destroyed along the way.

Take billing, for example. Virgin Enterprises uses Norvell IP and A. A. Thornton, type of companies that sees fit to charge by the half hour for anything that they do, including a single phone call, running up bills of around $300 per call. Yes, you read that correctly…$300 PER CALL! Equally absurdly, they charge the same to write a letter, to attend a meeting or to send an email!

Ok, so Virgin and Sir Richard is worth billions, they can afford these costs and who cares? It’s their choice and their wallet, right?

Well, no. They make their pray pay for it.

The thing is, as the relentless (and oftentimes frivolous) stream of trademark infringement lawsuits are filed across the globe, those costs are, almost exclusively borne not by Virgin, but by the small business that they are making their claim against.

Take the case of Wyoming start-up, VIRGINIC LLC. Virgin decided, as they have done on so many occasions in the past, that they were unhappy with the UK Intellectual Property Office awarding VIRGINIC LLC their own brand trademark “VIRGINIC”. For a little context, let’s not forget that this is the same company that sued a Virgin Olive Oil producer, the TV show “Jane The Virgin” and even a Non-profit Educational Foundation, “Las Virgenes” for children, staffed entirely by volunteer parents! If you’re like most people, this alone can leave anyone speechless. Clearly, Virgin is not afraid to throw their litigation budget around even against non-profit children care foundations.

So, Virgin took umbrage to the idea of a company VIRGINIC LLC, regardless of the fact that the UKIPO had already awarded their trademark for their name to them. Virgin attacked and yet again the UK courts decided that there was no case to be heard and VIRGINIC should keep their own trademark.

Virgin lost the case, and the subsequent appeal, with VIRGINIC being awarded the princely sum of £300 in costs, and that, in any sensible judicial process, should have been that. However, Virgin’s lawyers managed to get the UK High Court of Appeals to agree to review the appeal of the case which, upon doing so, intrestingly awarded in favor of Virgin this third time around.

And here is the fun part; When VIRGINIC, a small “David” went up against the behemoth “Goliath” of Virgin and managed to not only show that common sense is still alive and well in some legal systems, but managed to do it on a shoestring budget, whilst a mammoth task and stupendous result given the odds, it appears that the ultimately necessary penny-pinching that all start-ups are likely to be forced to adopt, is the largest chink in their armor.

The reason for this is simple: Virgin lose and the judge awards costs in the order of £300 to the start-up. £300 which Virgin never actually saw fit to pay, regardless of the fact that they spend so much time in courtrooms arguing that their rights are being infringed upon and crowing for justice. This in itself is a pointer towards where this all goes wrong. You see, they cry foul and plead for justice as if the courtroom is a sacred place where all shall find their truth. In reality, when that truth is contrary to their opinion, they simply disregard the orders of the court and find somebody else to cry to.

Now, what happens when, at the third time of asking, they manage to find themselves a “friendly” judge? Well, their costs are awarded against VIRGINIC in the sum of…

Ready for this…?

£33,000 + £10,000!
With no right to appeal any further, conveniently.

So, Virgin “loses” and the bill is £300. I would guess that the lawyers charging $300 to make a phone call would probably be happy to pay that off themselves with the cash that they dropped down the sofa last night. However, when VIRGINIC loses, all those cups of coffee that the world’s most expensive secretaries were making suddenly add up to a sum of £43,000, so exorbitant, so utterly defiant of anything even approaching a reality that is in any way sustainable, that all suddenly becomes so very clear.

Virgin and, more importantly, Virgin’s lawyers LOVE finding random reasons to drag volnurable, small businesses (and apparently non-profit foundations too) into a courtroom because it is a no-loss situation for them. They literally don’t even bother paying the measly costs generated if they lose (Virgin pays) whilst running up such absurd bills themselves that, if they win, the small business is basically financially crippled to the point where it either ceases to exist or exists only for the purposes of paying off the legal bills. Small educational foundations like “Las Virgenes” for children, staffed entirely by volunteer parents are a no match with this malice legal practice backed by deep pockets of Virgin.

Is there hope and a happy ending here? VIRGINIC is well off its knees trying to write one as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe the Wyoming case will prove more uncorrupted justice system in the US than the UK one.

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New Digital App Set to Transform the Landscape of Contact Tracing Practices


In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, UK company, Vestigo has launched a new website to promote its efforts to develop a digital tracing app called Dot2Dot and test the prototype within the next few weeks.

Dot2Dot will digitise the manual contact tracing procedures utilised by health professionals, making those processes more efficient and less costly by harnessing AI capabilities and social network tracing to maximise the effectiveness of the process. It will mean more contacts can be traced than through current manual practices, at pace and at a lower cost.

The digital contact tracing app, which is at development stage, will primarily be of use in the war against Tuberculosis, but could help health authorities with other infectious diseases.

Dot2Dot was inspired by the daughter of Faye Grundy, one of the founders of Vestigo who, as a result of failures of manual contact tracing, went on to develop tuberculosis meningitis. The TB also spread to other organs, causing permanent damage to her brain, lungs and eyes.

Faye said: “In March 2017, I took my 11-month-old daughter, Dottie, to her village GP. At that time, she was recovering from her meningitis vaccination and had an ear infection.

“At the same time, there was another patient waiting to be seen by the GP who was confirmed – post appointment – to have highly infectious TB. Contact tracing was undertaken for his friends and family.

“However Public Health England’s manual practices failed to identify Dottie as a contact.

“Tragically Dottie went on to develop TB meningitis, pulmonary TB and ocular TB. She was critical on a ventilator in Intensive Care when she was diagnosed, having also developed hydrocephalus which required emergency neurosurgery and multiple subsequent neurosurgeries. She has miraculously survived but has lifelong injuries. As a family the impact is immeasurable.”

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB, currently infects one-quarter of the world’s population, with a 5–15% lifetime risk of falling ill from the disease.

The symptoms of active TB disease are very similar to COVID-19 – amongst them, a cough and fever – which may be mild, leading to delays in seeking care, thereby spreading from person to person through the air by coughing or sneezing. A person needs only to inhale a few of the bacterium to become infected.

Current contact tracing for the disease is conducted using paper-based questions to try and establish a history of movements. However, this process is flawed – paper records are error-prone, not centralised, and there is too much dependence on human interpretation.

Dot2Dot removes the need for paper-based questionnaires and digitises contact tracing to eliminate errors and make the whole process of infectious disease control much more efficient.

Martin Green, co-founder of Vestigo, said: “Digital contact tracing has the potential to revolutionise the process by which a health authority identifies people who might have been in contact with a person carrying an infectious disease.

 “When combined with isolation of infected individuals, contact tracing can be very effective in containing and stopping a disease outbreak.”

 Avoidable transmission of disease is the number one priority of public health officials and now governments globally.

Martin said: “The most effective way to delay the spread of an infectious disease is to apply accurate, effective and efficient contact tracing as soon as an initial index case is identified.

“The current models for contact tracing are antiquated and too subjective. As a result, practice is inconsistent and dependent on the competency of individual practitioners. Contacts are missed, often those who are the most vulnerable in society.

“The consequences of infectious disease outbreaks are significant both for public health at a macro and micro level, together with huge economic impact, again at both a macro and micro level. And this doesn’t begin to consider the individual human loss and devastation caused to families.”

He went on to say: “Dot2Dot has been designed primarily as a tool to help with manual contact tracing for TB, whereas a lot of the COVID 19 discussion is about population-level tracing.

“Having said that, we’re keen to help if the app can be successfully deployed in the context of the current COVID-19 epidemic.”

For more information, contact:

Martin Green

Vestigo,

The Bond
180-182 Fazeley Street
Birmingham
West Midlands
B5 5SE
UK

Website: https://dot2dot.app/

Email: contact@dot2dot.app
Phone: 0121 285 0102

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