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.

McDonald’s has agreed to pay €1.25bn to settle a dispute with French authorities over excessive royalty payments to Luxembourg

McDonald’s has agreed to pay €1.25bn to settle a dispute with French authorities over excessive royalty payments to Luxembourg

On 16 June 2022 McDonald’s France entered into an settlement agreement according to which it will pay €1.245 billion in back taxes and fines to the French tax authorities. The settlement agreement resulted from investigations carried out by the French tax authorities in regards to abnormally high royalties transferred from McDonald’s France to McDonald’s Luxembourg following an intra group restructuring in 2009. McDonald’s France doubled its royalty payments from 5% to 10% of restaurant turnover, and instead of paying these royalties to McDonald’s HQ in the United States, going forward they paid them to a Swiss PE of a group company in Luxembourg, which was not taxable of the amounts. During the investigations it was discovered that McDonald’s royalty fees could vary substantially from one McDonald’s branch to the next without any justification other than tax savings for the group. This conclusion was further supported ... Continue to full case
France vs Société Planet, May 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No 444451

France vs Société Planet, May 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No 444451

In view of its purpose and the comments made on Article 12 of the OECD Model Convention, the Conseil d’État found that Article 12(2) of the Franco-New Zealand tax treaty was applicable to French source royalties whose beneficial owner resided in New Zealand, even if the royalties had been paid to an intermediary company established in a third country. The Supreme Court thus set aside the previous 2020 Judgement of the Administrative Court of Appeal. The question of whether the company in New Zealand actually qualified as the beneficial owner of the royalties for the years in question was referred to the Court of Appeal. Excerpt “1. It is clear from the documents in the file submitted to the judges of the court of first instance that the company Planet, which carries on the business of distributing sports programmes to fitness clubs, was subject to ... Continue to full case
Poland vs "Sport O.B. SA", March 2022, Provincial Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Rz 4/22

Poland vs “Sport O.B. SA”, March 2022, Provincial Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Rz 4/22

Following a business restructuring, rights in a trademark developed and used by O.B SA was transferred to a related party “A”. The newly established company A had no employees and all functions in the company was performed by O.B. SA. Anyhow, going forward O.B SA would now pay a license fee to A for using the trademark. The payments from O.B SA were the only source of income for “A” (apart from interest). According to the O.B. group placement of the trademark into a separate entity was motivated by a desire to increase recognition and creditworthiness of the group, which was a normal practice for business entities at the time. In 2014 and 2015 O.B. SA deducted license fees paid to A of PLN 6 647 596.19 and PLN 7 206 578.24. The tax authorities opened an audited of O.B. SA and determined that the ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

A Danish parent in the Maersk group’s oil and gas segment, Maersk Oil and Gas A/S (Mogas), had operating losses for FY 1986 to 2010, although the combined segment was highly profitable. The reoccurring losses was explained by the tax authorities as being a result of the group’s transfer pricing setup. “Mogas and its subsidiaries and branches are covered by the definition of persons in Article 2(1) of the Tax Act, which concerns group companies and permanent establishments abroad, it being irrelevant whether the subsidiaries and branches form part of local joint ventures. Mogas bears the costs of exploration and studies into the possibility of obtaining mining licences. The expenditure is incurred in the course of the company’s business of exploring for oil and gas deposits. The company is entitled to deduct the costs in accordance with Section 8B(2) of the Danish Income Tax Act ... Continue to full case
Poland vs "X-TM" sp. z o.o., March 2022, Administrative Court, SA/PO 1058/21

Poland vs “X-TM” sp. z o.o., March 2022, Administrative Court, SA/PO 1058/21

On 30 November 2012, X sold its trademarks to subsidiary C which in turn sold the trademarks to subsidiary D. X and D then entered into a trademark license agreement according to which X would pay license fees to D. These license fees were deducted by X in its 2013 tax return. The tax authorities claimed that X had understated its taxabel income as the license fees paid by X to D for the use of trademarks were not related to obtaining or securing a source of revenue. The decision stated that in the light of the principles of logic and experience, the actions taken by the taxpayer made no sense and were not aimed at achieving the revenue in question, but instead at generating costs artificially – only for tax purposes. An appeal was filed by X. Judgement of the Administrative Court The court ... Continue to full case
Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax in the amount of BGN 156 830,27 related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by ... Continue to full case
India vs Synamedia Limited, February 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal - BANGALORE, Case No ITA No. 3350/Bang/2018

India vs Synamedia Limited, February 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – BANGALORE, Case No ITA No. 3350/Bang/2018

Synamedia Ltd. provides open end-to-end digital technology services to digital pay television platform operators. The company has expertise in the area of providing conditional access system, interactive systems and other software solutions as well as integration and support services for digital pay TV networks. For FY 2014-15 the company filed a tax return with nil income. The case was selected for a transfer pricing audit. The tax authorities in India accepted the arm’s length pricing determined by Synamedia, but some of the intra-group licence payments for software were considered subject to withholding taxes in India. Hence an assessment was issued. An appeal was filed by the company. Judgement of the Tax Appellate Tribunal The Tribunal decided in favor of Synamedia Ltd. and set aside the assessment. After analyzing the terms of the agreement the Tribunal concluded that the terms of agreement in the present case ... Continue to full case
Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

In 2011 Samsung signed the contract with Microsoft for use of software-patent in Android-based smartphone and tablets, and for the years 2012-2015 Samsung paid royalties to a Microsoft subsidiary, MS Licensing GP, while saving 15 percent for withholding tax. The royalties paid by Samsung to Microsoft during these years amounted to 4.35 trillion won, of which 15%, or 653.7 billion won, was paid as withholding tax. In June 2016, Microsoft filed a claim for a tax refund in a amount of 634 billion won with the Tax Office. According to Microsoft royalty paid for patent rights not registered in Korea is not domestic source income, and should not be subject to withholding tax. The request was refused by the tax authorities. Microsoft then filed a lawsuit against the tax authorities in 2017. Microsoft argued that the withholding tax imposed on income from a patent unregistered ... Continue to full case
France vs Rayonnages de France, February 2022, CAA of Douai, No 19DA01682

France vs Rayonnages de France, February 2022, CAA of Douai, No 19DA01682

Rayonnages de France paid royalties and management fees to a related Portuguese company. Following an audit for FY 2010 – 2012 the French tax authorities denied tax deductions for the payments by reference to the the arm’s length principle. The court of first instance decided in favor of the tax authorities and Rayonnages de France then filed an appeal with the CAA of Douai. Judgement of the CAA The Court of appeal upheld the decision of the court of first instance and decided in favor of the tax authorities. Excerpt “However, as the Minister points out, in order to be eligible for deduction, the management services invoiced by VJ Trans.Fer to SARL Rayonnages de France must necessarily cover tasks distinct from those relating to the day-to-day management of the latter company, which were the responsibility of Mr B. as statutory manager of SARL Rayonnages de ... Continue to full case
France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

Ikea France (SNC MIF) had concluded a franchise agreement with Inter Ikea Systems BV (IIS BV) in the Netherlands by virtue of which it benefited, in particular, as a franchisee, from the right to operate the ‘Ikea Retail System’ (the Ikea concept), the ‘Ikea Food System’ (food sales) and the ‘Ikea Proprietary Rights’ (the Ikea trade mark) in its shops. In return, Ikea France paid Inter Ikea Systems BV a franchise fee equal to 3% of the amount of net sales made in France, which amounted to EUR 68,276,633 and EUR 72,415,329 for FY 2010 and 2011. These royalties were subject to the withholding tax provided for in the provisions of Article 182 B of the French General Tax Code, but under the terms of Article 12 of the Convention between France and the Netherlands: “1. Royalties arising in one of the States and paid ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 - 42

Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 – 42

In 2016 the British company Avon Cosmetics Limited (ACL) became the sole licensor of intellectual property rights for Europe, Africa and the Middle East within the Avon Cosmetics Group and was authorised to issue sub-licences to other group companies, including the Czech subsidiary, Avon Cosmetics spol. s r.o.. ACL charged a fee for issuing a sub-licence equal to an agreed-upon percentage of net sales but was then contractually obliged to pay a similar fee to the US companies, Avon Products Inc. and Avon Internetional Operations Inc. ACL applied for relief from WHT on the royalty payments from the Czech subsidiary. The tax authorities concluded that ACL was not the beneficial owner of the royalty income but only an conduit or intermediary. The legal conditions for granting the exemption were not met. ACL did not obtain any real benefit from the royalty fees and was not ... Continue to full case
Netherlands - Crop Tax Advisers, January 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. 200.192.332/01, ECLI:NL:GHARL:2022:343

Netherlands – Crop Tax Advisers, January 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. 200.192.332/01, ECLI:NL:GHARL:2022:343

The question at issue was whether a Crop 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. Judgement of the Court of Appeal “Crop is liable for the damages arising from the shortcoming. For the assessment of that damage, the case must be referred to the Statement of Damages, as the District Court has already decided. To answer the question of whether the likelihood of damage resulting from the shortcomings is plausible, a comparison must be made between the current situation and the situation in which business rates would have been applied. For the hypothetical situation, the rates to be recommended by the expert should be used. For the current situation, the Tax Authorities have agreed to adjusted pricing. The question whether and to what extent [the ... Continue to full case
Russia vs LLC OTIS LIFT, December 2021, Arbitration Court of Moscow, Case № А40-180523/20-140-3915

Russia vs LLC OTIS LIFT, December 2021, Arbitration Court of Moscow, Case № А40-180523/20-140-3915

The Russian company LLC OTIS LIFT carries out service and maintenance activities for lifts and escalators both under the registered trademarks and designations of Otis and lifts and escalators of other manufacturers. A License Agreement was in force between the Russian subsidiary and its US parent OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY (NJ) (Licensor). In accordance with the License Agreement, LLC OTIS LIFT should pay to OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY (NJ) an amount equal to three and a half percent (3.5%) of the net amount invoiced by Otis Lift for Goods and Services as payment for the right to manufacture, promote, sell, install, repair and maintain Goods under the registered trademarks and designations “Otis”. Hence, the License Agreement did not provide for charging royalties from the revenue for the services provided by LLC OTIS LIFT for the maintenance of lift equipment of third-party manufacturers. Following an audit it was ... Continue to full case
Kenya vs Seven Seas Technologies Ltd, December 2021, High Court of Kenya, Income Tax Appeal 8 of 2017 [2021] KEHC 358

Kenya vs Seven Seas Technologies Ltd, December 2021, High Court of Kenya, Income Tax Appeal 8 of 2017 [2021] KEHC 358

Seven Seas Technologies under a software license agreement purchased software from a US company – Callidus software – for internal use and for distribution to local customers. Following an audit, the tax authorities found that Seven Seas Technologies had not been paying withholding taxes on payments in respect of the software license agreement with Callidas. An assessment was issued according to which these payments were found to by a “consideration for the use and right to use copyright in the literary work of another person” as per section 2 of the Income Tax Act, thus subject to withholding tax under Section 35 (1)(b) of the Kenyan Income Tax Act. Seven Seas Technologies contested the assessment before the Tax Appeals Tribunal where, in a judgement issued 8 December 2016, the tribunal held that Seven Seas Technologies had acquired rights to copyright in software that is commercially ... Continue to full case
Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd. – an Indonesian subsidiary of Sanken Electric Co., Ltd. Japan – paid royalties to its Japanese parent for use of IP. The royalty payment was calculated based on external sales and therefore did not include sales of products to group companies. The royalty payments were deducted for tax purposes. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions for the royalty payments were denied. According to the authorities the license agreement had not been registrered in Indonesia. Furthermore, the royalty payment was found not to have been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle. P.T. Sanken issued a complaint over the decision with the Tax Court, where the assessment later was set aside. This decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the ... Continue to full case
US vs Coca Cola, October 2021, US Tax Court, T.C. Docket 31183-15

US vs Coca Cola, October 2021, US Tax Court, T.C. Docket 31183-15

In a November 2020 opinion the US Tax Court agreed with the IRS that Coca-Cola’s US-based income should be increased by $9 billion in a dispute over royalties from its foreign-based licensees. Coca-Cola filed a Motion to Reconsider June 2, 2021 – 196 days after the Tax Court had served its opinion. Judgement of the tax court The Tax Court denied the motion to reconsider. There is a 30-day deadline to move for reconsideration and the court concluded that Coca-Cola was without a valid excuse for the late filing and that the motion would have failed on the merits in any event. 2021_10_26-Order-re-Motion-for-Leave-Coca-Cola-762 ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs EAC Invest A/S, October 2021, High Court, Case No SKM2021.705.OLR

Denmark vs EAC Invest A/S, October 2021, High Court, Case No SKM2021.705.OLR

In 2019, the Danish parent company of the group, EAC Invest A/S, had been granted a ruling by the tax tribunal that, in the period 2008-2011, due to, inter alia, quite exceptional circumstances involving currency restrictions in Venezuela, the parent company should not be taxed on interest on a claim for unpaid royalties relating to trademarks covered by licensing agreements between the parent company and its then Venezuelan subsidiary, Plumrose Latinoamericana C.A. The Tax tribunal had also found that neither a payment of extraordinary dividends by the Venezuelan subsidiary to the Danish parent company in 2012 nor a restructuring of the group in 2013 could trigger a deferred taxation of royalties. The tax authorities appealed against the decisions to the High Court. Judgement of the High Court The High Court upheld the decisions of the tax tribunal with amended grounds and dismissed the claims of ... Continue to full case
Italy vs NEOPOST ITALIA s.r.l. (QUADIENT ITALY s.r.l.), September 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 25025/2021

Italy vs NEOPOST ITALIA s.r.l. (QUADIENT ITALY s.r.l.), September 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 25025/2021

Neopost Italia s.r.l. had paid service fees and royalties to its French parent. Following an audit, deductions for these intra-group transactions was adjusted by the tax authorities due to non compliance with the arm’s length principle and lack of documentation. However, for the purpose of determining an arm’s length remuneration a benchmark study had been performed by the tax authorities in which one of the comparables was not independent. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and remanded the case to the court of first instance. In regards to the comparable company in the benchmark that was not independent, the Supreme Court found that: “it is entirely arbitrary, in comparing the two companies, to assert that the price charged by one of the two ... Continue to full case
Finland vs A Oy, September 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2021:127

Finland vs A Oy, September 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2021:127

A Oy, the parent company of group A, had not charged a royalty (the so-called concept fee) to all local companies in the group. The tax authorities had determined the level of the local companies’ arm’s length results and thus the amounts of royalties not collected from them on the basis of the results of nine comparable companies. The comparable companies’ performance levels were -0,24 %, 0,60 %, 1,07 %, 2,90 %, 3,70 %, 5,30 %, 8,40 %, 12,30 % and 13,50 %. The interquartile range of the results had been 1.1-8.4% and the median 3.7%. The tax inspectors had set the routine rate of return for all local companies at 4,5 %, which was also used by A Ltd as the basis for the concept fee. A’s taxes had been adjusted accordingly to the detriment of the company. Before the Supreme Administrative Court, A ... Continue to full case
Israel vs Sephira & Offek Ltd and Israel Daniel Amram, August 2021, Jerusalem District Court, Case No 2995-03-17

Israel vs Sephira & Offek Ltd and Israel Daniel Amram, August 2021, Jerusalem District Court, Case No 2995-03-17

While living in France, Israel Daniel Amram (IDA) devised an idea for the development of a unique and efficient computerized interface that would link insurance companies and physicians and facilitate financial accounting between medical service providers and patients. IDA registered the trademark “SEPHIRA” and formed a company in France under the name SAS SEPHIRA . IDA then moved to Israel and formed Sephira & Offek Ltd. Going forward the company in Israel would provid R&D services to SAS SEPHIRA in France. All of the taxable profits in Israel was labled as “R&D income” which is taxed at a lower rate in Israel. Later IDA’s rights in the trademark was sold to Sephira & Offek Ltd in return for €8.4m. Due to IDA’s status as a “new Immigrant” in Israel profits from the sale was tax exempt. Following the acquisition of the trademark, Sephira & Offek ... Continue to full case