Category: Royalty and License Payments

Royalty is defined as payments for the use of or right to use intangible property.
Royalties or license fees are paid for use of patent, copyright, design or model, secret formula or process, trademark, trade name or for information concerning industrial, commercial or scientific experience (know-how) etc. Transfer pricing issues often relates to profit shifting, ownership and value of intangibles, and benefit tests.

European Commission vs. Amazon and Luxembourg, May 2021, State Aid - European General Court, Case No T-816/17 and T-318/18

European Commission vs. Amazon and Luxembourg, May 2021, State Aid – European General Court, Case No T-816/17 and T-318/18

In 2017 the European Commission concluded that Luxembourg granted undue tax benefits to Amazon of around €250 million.  Following an in-depth investigation the Commission concluded that a tax ruling issued by Luxembourg in 2003, and prolonged in 2011, lowered the tax paid by Amazon in Luxembourg without any valid justification. The tax ruling enabled Amazon to shift the vast majority of its profits from an Amazon group company that is subject to tax in Luxembourg (Amazon EU) to a company which is not subject to tax (Amazon Europe Holding Technologies). In particular, the tax ruling endorsed the payment of a royalty from Amazon EU to Amazon Europe Holding Technologies, which significantly reduced Amazon EU’s taxable profits. This decision was brought before the European Court of Justice by Luxembourg and Amazon. Judgement of the EU Court  The European General Court found that Luxembourg’s tax treatment of ... Continue to full case
South Africa vs Levi Strauss SA (PTY) LTD, April 2021, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No (509/2019) [2021] ZASCA 32

South Africa vs Levi Strauss SA (PTY) LTD, April 2021, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No (509/2019) [2021] ZASCA 32

Levi Strauss South Africa (Pty) Ltd, has been in a dispute with the African Revenue Services, over import duties and value-added tax (VAT) payable by it in respect of clothing imports. The Levi’s Group uses procurement Hubs in Singapore and Hong Kong but channeled goods via Mauritius to South Africa, thus benefiting from a favorable duty protocol between Mauritius and South Africa. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment in which it determined that the place of origin certificates issued in respect of imports from countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) and used to clear imports emanating from such countries were invalid, and therefore disentitled Levi SA from entering these goods at the favorable rate of zero percent duty under the Protocol on Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region (the Protocol). The tax authorities also determined that the ... Continue to full case
India vs Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8733-8734 OF 2018

India vs Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8733-8734 OF 2018

At issue in the case of India vs. Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, was whether payments for purchase of computer software to foreign suppliers or manufacturers could be characterised as royalty payments. The Supreme Court held that such payments could not be considered payments for use of the underlying copyrights/intangibles. Hence, no withholding tax would apply to these payments for the years prior to the 2012. Furthermore, the 2012 amendment to the royalty definition in the Indian tax law could not be applied retroactively, and even after 2012, the definition of royalty in Double Tax Treaties would still override the definition in Indian tax law. Excerpt from the conclusion of the Supreme Court “Given the definition of royalties contained in Article 12 of the DTAAs mentioned in paragraph 41 of this judgment , it is clear that there is no obligation on the ... Continue to full case
Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. had entered into a substantial service contract with an unrelated party in Latin America, Telefonica, according to which the DIGITEX group would provide certain services for Telefonica. The contract originally entered by DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. was later transferred to DIGITEX’s Latin American subsidiaries. But after the transfer, cost and amortizations related to the contract were still paid – and deducted for tax purposes – by DIGITEX in Spain. The tax authorities found that costs (amortizations, interest payments etc.) related to the Telefonica contract – after the contract had been transferred to the subsidiaries – should have been reinvoiced to the subsidiaries, and an assessment was issued to DIGITEX for FY 2010 and 2011 where these deductions had been disallowed. DIGITEX on its side argued that by not re-invoicing the costs to the subsidiaries the income received from the subsidiaries increased. According to ... Continue to full case
Colombia vs. Taxpayer, November 2020, The Constitutional Court, Sentencia No. C-486/20

Colombia vs. Taxpayer, November 2020, The Constitutional Court, Sentencia No. C-486/20

A Colombian taxpayer had filed an unconstitutionality complaint against Article 70 (partial) of Law 1819 of 2016, “Whereby a structural tax reform is adopted, mechanisms for the fight against tax evasion and avoidance are strengthened, and other provisions are enacted.” The Constitutional Court ruled that the Colombian GAAR legislation was not unconstitutional. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation (1) Corte Constitucional - Sentencia C-480 del 19 de noviembre de 2020 ... Continue to full case
US vs Coca Cola, November 2020, US Tax Court, 155 T.C. No. 10

US vs Coca Cola, November 2020, US Tax Court, 155 T.C. No. 10

Coca Cola, a U.S. corporation, was the legal owner of the intellectual property (IP) necessary to manufacture, distribute, and sell some of the best-known beverage brands in the world. This IP included trade- marks, product names, logos, patents, secret formulas, and proprietary manufacturing processes. Coca Cola licensed foreign manufacturing affiliates, called “supply points,” to use this IP to produce concentrate that they sold to unrelated bottlers, who produced finished beverages for sale  to distributors and retailers throughout the world. Coca Cola’s contracts with its supply points gave them limited rights to use the IP in performing their manufacturing and distribution functions but gave the supply points no ownership interest in that IP. During 2007-2009 the supply points compensated Coca Cola for use of its IP under a formulary apportionment method to which Coca Cola and IRS had agreed in 1996 when settling Coca Cola’s tax ... Continue to full case
European Commission vs. Ireland and Apple, July 2020, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-778/16 and T-892/16

European Commission vs. Ireland and Apple, July 2020, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-778/16 and T-892/16

In a decision of 30 August 2016 the European Commission concluded that Ireland’s tax benefits to Apple were illegal under EU State aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. The decision of the Commission concerned two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple, which determined the taxable profit of two Irish Apple subsidiaries, Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe, between 1991 and 2015. As a result of the rulings, in 2011, for example, Apple’s Irish subsidiary recorded European profits of US$ 22 billion (c.a. €16 billion) but under the terms of the tax ruling only around €50 million were considered taxable in Ireland. Ireland appealed the Commission’s decision to the European Court of Justice. The Judgement of the European Court of Justice The General Court annuls the Commission’s decision that Ireland granted illegal State aid to Apple ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2020.303.HR

Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2020.303.HR

The question in this case was whether royalty payments from a loss making Danish subsidiary Adecco A/S (H1 A/S in the decision) to its Swiss parent company Adecco SA (G1 SA in the decision – an international provider of temporary and permanent employment services active throughout the entire range of sectors in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia – for use of trademarks and trade names, knowhow, international network intangibles, and business concept were deductible expenses for tax purposes or not. In  2013, the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) had amended Adecco A/S’s taxable income for the years 2006-2009 by a total of DKK 82 million. Adecco A/S submitted that the company’s royalty payments were operating expenses deductible under section 6 (a) of the State Tax Act and that it was entitled to tax deductions for royalty payments of 1.5% of the company’s turnover ... Continue to full case
Indonesia vs PK manufacturing Ltd, March 2020 Supreme Court, Case No. 366/B/PK/Pjk/2020

Indonesia vs PK manufacturing Ltd, March 2020 Supreme Court, Case No. 366/B/PK/Pjk/2020

PK manufacturing Ltd was a contract manufacturer of cabins for excavators for the Japanese parent and paid royalties for use of IP owned by the parent. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions for royalty payments were disallowed due to lack of documentation for ownership to Intellectual Property by the Japanese parent. Furthermore, the tax authorities did not see any economic benefit for the contract manufacturer in paying the royalties, as it had been continuously loss making. The Company disagreed and brought the case to court. The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the tax authorities. Existence and ownership to the Intellectual Property in question had not been sufficiently documented by the Japanese parent company. The Supreme Court dismissed the request for review filed by PK Co. Ltd. Click here for translation putusan_366_b_pk_pjk_2020_20200908cl ... Continue to full case
Zimbabwe vs LCF Zimbabwe LTD, March 2020, Special Court for Income Tax Appeals, Case No. HH 227-20

Zimbabwe vs LCF Zimbabwe LTD, March 2020, Special Court for Income Tax Appeals, Case No. HH 227-20

LCF Zimbabwe LTD manufactures cement and similar products from limestone extracted at a mine in Zimbabwe. It also manufactures adhesives and adhesive paints and decorative paints, construction chemicals and agricultural lime. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of a large European group, which manufactures and sells building and construction materials. The issues in this case concerned tax deductibility of “master branding fees”, consumable spare parts not utilised at the tax year end, quarry overburden expenses and computer software. Furthermore there were also the question of levying penalties. Judgement of the Tax Court The Court decided in favour of the tax authorities. Excerpts: “The corollary to the finding of indivisibility is that the disallowance by the Commissioner of the 1.5% master branding fees of US$ 863 252.70 in the 2012 tax year and US$ 1 140 000 in the 2013 tax year was correct while the ... Continue to full case
France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

SA Sacla, a French company trading in protective clothing and footwear, as well as small equipment, was audited for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009. The French tax administration issued an assessment, considering that SA Sacla by selling brands owned by it for an amount of 90,000 euros to a Luxembourg company, Involvex, had indirectly transfered profits abroad. Due to inconclusive results of various valuations presented by the tax authorities and the taxpayer, an expert opinion was ordered by the Court on the question of whether the price of the brands sold by SA Sacla to the company Involvex had been at arm’s length. DECIDES: Article 1: Before ruling on the request of SA SACLA, an expert will carry out an assessment in order to determine whether the selling price of the brands sold by SA SACLA corresponds to their value, taking into account the ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Engine branch, January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case No SKM2020.30.LSR

Denmark vs Engine branch, January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case No SKM2020.30.LSR

The main activity in a Danish branch of a German group was development, licensing and services related to engines that were being produced by external licensees. Under a restructuring of the group, it was decided that royalty income for a particular engine type previously received by the Danish branch should be transferred to the German company. The Danish branch received a compensation corresponding to the net earnings for a two-year notice period. The tax administration increased the taxable income of the branch claiming that the branch had made valuable contributions to the development of the type of engine in question and thereby obtained co-ownership. The Tax Tribunal found that valuable intangible assets had been transferred, The decision was based on prior contractual arrangements and conduct of the parties.  Click here for English translation Click here for other translation SKM 2020-30 ... Continue to full case
Panama vs "AC S.A.", January 2020, Administrative Tribunal, Case No TAT-RF-002

Panama vs “AC S.A.”, January 2020, Administrative Tribunal, Case No TAT-RF-002

“AC S.A” is engaged in sale of ventilation, heating and cooling equipment in Panama. AC S.A pays royalties for use of IP owned by the parent company of the AC Group. Following a audit carried out by the Tax Administration in Panama it was concluded that the profits of AC S.A 2.04% was below the arm’s length range determined by application of a TNM-method. After removing non-comparables from the benchmark study provided by the company, the interquartile range had a lower quartile of 6.15% and a median of 8.41%. Hence an assessment of additional taxable income was issued for FY 2014, bringing the profits of AC S.A up to the median (8.41%) of the adjusted benchmark. AC Corp disagreed with the assessment and brought the case before the Administrative Tribunal. The Administrative Tribunal decided in favor of the tax authorities, but made adjustment to the ... Continue to full case
Uruguay vs Nestlé del Uruguay S.A., December 2019, Tribunal de lo Contencioso Administrativo, Case No 786/2019

Uruguay vs Nestlé del Uruguay S.A., December 2019, Tribunal de lo Contencioso Administrativo, Case No 786/2019

Nestlé del Uruguay S.A. had deducted royalty payments to its parent company located in Switzerland for the right to use certain local brands such as Águila, El Chaná, Vascolet, Bracafé and Copacabana. Royalties were calculated as 5% of sales, with the exception of payments for the Águila brand products, where royalties were calculated as 2% of sales. The tax administration (DGI) found that the royalty payments had not been at arm’s length. In defense of this position, it was argued that these local brands had been developed by Nestlé Uruguay itself, and then transferred to Nestlé Switzerland in 1999 for a sum of USD 1. Nestle Uruguay disagreed and argued that the tax administration was applying transfer pricing rules retroactively to a transaction concluded in 1999, when such rules did not yet exist. Judgement of the Court The Court considered that the Nestlé Uruguay should ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

The question in this case was whether royalty payments from a loss making Danish subsidiary Adecco A/S (H1 A/S in the decision) to its Swiss parent company Adecco SA (G1 SA in the decision – an international provider of temporary and permanent employment services active throughout the entire range of sectors in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia – for use of trademarks and trade names, knowhow, international network intangibles, and business concept were deductible expenses for tax purposes or not. In  2013, the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) had amended Adecco A/S’s taxable income for the years 2006-2009 by a total of DKK 82 million. “Section 2 of the Tax Assessment Act. Paragraph 1 states that, when calculating the taxable income, group affiliates must apply prices and terms for commercial or economic transactions in accordance with what could have been agreed if the transactions ... Continue to full case
Zimbabwe vs Delta Beverages LTD, Court Case No HH664-19

Zimbabwe vs Delta Beverages LTD, Court Case No HH664-19

Delta Beverages LTD had been issued a tax assessment where various fees for service, technology license of trademarks, technology and know-how had been disallowed by the tax authorities (Zimra) of Zimbabwe. Among the issues contented by the tax authorities were technical service fees calculated as 1.5 %  of turnover. “The sole witness confirmed the advice proffered to the holding company’s board of directors in the minutes of 17 May 2002 that such an approach was common place across the world. This was confirmed by the approvals granted by exchange control authority to these charges. It was further confirmed by the very detailed 19 page Internal Comparable Analysis Report dated 5 October 2010 conducted by a reputable international firm of chartered  accountants, which was commissioned by the Dutch Company to assess internal compliance with the arm’s length principles in its transfer pricing policy for trademark royalties ... Continue to full case
European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, September 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-760/15

European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, September 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-760/15

In 2008, the Netherlands tax authorities concluded an advance pricing arrangement (APA) with Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV (Starbucks BV), part of the Starbucks group, which, inter alia, roasts coffees. The objective of that arrangement was to determine Starbucks BV’s remuneration for its production and distribution activities within the group. Thereafter, Starbucks BV’s remuneration served to determine annually its taxable profit on the basis of Netherlands corporate income tax. In addition, the APA endorsed the amount of the royalty paid by Starbucks BV to Alki, another entity of the same group, for the use of Starbucks’ roasting IP. More specifically, the APA provided that the amount of the royalty to be paid to Alki corresponded to Starbucks BV’s residual profit. The amount was determined by deducting Starbucks BV’s remuneration, calculated in accordance with the APA, from Starbucks BV’s operating profit. In 2015, the Commission found that ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

A Danish subsidiary in the German MAN group was the owner of certain intangible assets. The German parent, acting as an intermediate for the Danish subsidiary, licensed rights in those intangibles to other parties. In 2002-2005, the Danish subsidiary received royalty payments corresponding to the prices agreed between the German parent company and independent parties for use of the intangibles. The group had requested an adjustment of the royalty payments to the Danish subsidiary due to withholding taxes paid on inter-company license fees received by the German Parent. This was rejected by the Danish tax authorities. The Supreme Court found no basis for an adjustment for withholding taxes as the agreed prices between the German parent and the Danish Subsidiary matched the market price paid by independent parties. Click here for translation Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No BS-4280-2019-HJR ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs Crop Tax Advisors, June 2019, Court of the Northern Netherlands, Case No 200.192.332/01

Netherlands vs Crop Tax Advisors, June 2019, Court of the Northern Netherlands, Case No 200.192.332/01

The question at issue was whether a tax adviser at Crop BV had acted in accordance with the requirements of a reasonably competent and reasonably acting adviser when advising on the so-called royalty routing and its implementation and when giving advice on trading. Click here for translation NL royalty routing1 ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs Tax advisor, June 2019, Court of Northern Netherlands, Case No. 200.193.965/01

Netherlands vs Tax advisor, June 2019, Court of Northern Netherlands, Case No. 200.193.965/01

The question at issue was whether a tax adviser had acted in accordance with the requirements of a reasonably competent and reasonably acting adviser when advising on the so-called royalty routing and its implementation and when giving advice on trading. Click here for translation NL Royalty routing2 ... Continue to full case
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