IP NEWS WEEKLY UPDATE – 8 NOV 2021
Financial incentives for certification and Intellectual Property Rights reimbursement scheme notified by the Goa government
This scheme of the government is part of the State Incentives to Encourage Investments Scheme, 2017 with an object to make the existing market more competitive and efficient both at a domestic and an international level. This scheme encourages the units which are based in Goa in relation to industries, academic institutions and hospitals to obtain certification from reputed certifying agencies and the department would reimburse 100% of the actual expenditure per certification upto 8 Lakhs and a cap of 15 Lakhs has been fixed for IPR related certifications. Units based in Goa are expected to utilize the opportunity and promote the market at a global level. A task force is to be formed by the department and its main functions would be to scrutinize and clear incentives and will remain active till September 2022.
New requirements for patent applications with biological sequence listings to come into effect from July 1, 2022
The WIPO Standard ST.26 specifies new requirements for biological sequence listings included in patent applications. This change is to be adopted by all WIPO contracting states and it will apply to all new patent applications filed. The new standard states that biological sequence listing must be in electronic XML format. In case an application includes a biological sequence or sequence listing but does not comply with WIPO ST.26, the applicant will have 15 months from the date of filing to provide a compliant sequence listing. Also, if an application mentions a biological sequence or sequence listing but if it is not included at the time of filing of the application, a time period of two months is granted to file the same. The filing date of the application will be reset to the date on which the sequence is received.
Candy Crush v. Candy Crunch
King.com and Midasplayer Limited, the creators of the game Candy Crush have filed opposition against International Fruit Genetics who have applied for the trademark Candy Crunch for a large number of products including fruits, vegetables and eatables. The claim of the opponent is that they have been using the mark Candy Crush from 2004 and the same has become a brand presently and the proposed Candy Crunch trademark is confusingly and deceptively similar to opponent’s previously used and duly registered marks.
Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd. V. Hakunamatata Tata Founders
The holding company of the Tata group was unsuccessful in seeking a permanent injunction from the Delhi high court restraining the Hakunamatata group from using the term TATA in their domain name and as a part of their crypto currency. The defendants are based in the US and UK and their intention of not targeting the Indian market and consumers is one major reason for Tata Sons to lose this battle. They were located outside the sovereign borders of India and statutorily outside the reach of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and this was taken as a base to conclude that the defendants were not targeting the Indian consumer base.
GSFC wins case over the trademark ‘SARDAR’
The Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd., a body of the Gujarat government had filed a trademark suit against the Indian Agro Chemicals for infringement of its mark “SARDAR”, which was used for a range of chemicals and fertilizers. The GSFC demanded that the use of the mark had to be stopped with immediate effect and that the company has to pay a compensation of Rs. 1 Crore back in September 2020. Indian Agro immediately accepted the demand placed by GSFC and changed its name from ‘SARDAR’ to ‘SARKAR’ following which issues had arisen in relation to the newly adopted name too. The name was further changed following events of opposition. The company had assured that it would not use the disputed mark but its only prayer was that, the court may not order the company to pay any compensation amount to GSFC. This case ended in a settlement between the parties and the court also accepted the statement and assurance given by the Indian Agro.
Delhi HC restrains pharma companies from making and selling patented drugs of Novartis
An injunction order has been passed against major pharma companies namely, Natco Pharma, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Eris Lifesciences and Windlas Biotech for manufacturing and selling drugs such as Valsartan and Sacubitril, drugs used to treat cardiovascular diseases which are already patented by Novartis. Novartis approached the court seeking to restrain other pharma companies from manufacturing or selling the patented combination of these drugs. The court passed an injunction in favour of Novartis and against all the defendants restraining them and their agents from manufacturing, importing, selling, and offering for sale, any pharmaceutical composition comprising a combination of Valsartan and Sacubitril.
Bharat Tea Suppliers v. Gujrat Tea Traders
The petitioner had filed this appeal before the Bombay HC against the order of the IPAB, Chennai dated December 12, 2020. The two copyrights in dispute are for the terms “Tiger No. 5” in the name of Bharat Tea Suppliers and “Lion No. 5” in the name of Gujarat Tea Traders. The IPAB had ruled that the petitioner did not comply with the provisions of Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 and the petitioner states before the HC that the IPAB had not extended opportunity of being heard to it and passed the judgment which is ex parte and therefore against the principles of natural justice. The HC decided that the decision of the IPAB was right and stated that even if it is found by the Court that there is a violation of principles of natural justice, the Courts have held that it may not be necessary to strike down the action and refer the matter back to the authorities to take fresh decision. Therefore the petition was dismissed.
M/S DRS Logistics (P) Ltd & Another vs Google India Pvt Ltd
The plaintiff filed the suit for restraining the defendants from using or permitting third parties to use plaintiffs’ registered trademark AGARWAL PACKERS & MOVES or DRS LOGISTICS either as a keyword or meta tag or trademark. The claim of the plaintiff is that several third party infringers use the services of Google for inserting their infringing advertisements when a user on the search engine looks for them by typing their name. One major contention of the plaintiff here is that, inspite of having favourable decrees, Google did not take any step to stop such infringing activities in their platform. The Delhi HC held that Google cannot absolve itself from the liability of ensuring that a keyword is not an infringement of trademark.
Delhi HC issues notice to Delhi Airport operator and Bird ExecuJet Airport Services Pvt. Ltd. in relation to violation of copyright laws, theft, and criminal breach of trust
Built at a cost of Rs.150 crore, this terminal of the Delhi Airport is the general aviation terminal with the highest capacity in entire south Asia. Mark Martin, the chief executive officer of Dubai-based aviation firm which was executing the general aviation terminal project until 2019 alleged theft and unlawful use of Martin’s work and intellectual property and filed a complaint with the Delhi Police against Delhi Airport Operator and Bird ExecuJet after their contract was terminated. Following events such as dismissal of application for filing FIR and non-maintainability of challenging the dismissal, presently, Martin has filed the Revision Petition before the Sessions Court and the court has issued the notice of the revision petition to the parties.
University of Hyderabad and Dr. Reddy’s wins patent over Psoriasis treatment mode
Researchers from the University of Hyderabad and Dr. Reddy’s have claimed a particular enzyme to be a major target in development of anti- psoriasis drugs. The claim has also been validated by the team and the mode is granted patent. A patent cooperation treaty (PCT) has also been filed for this invention.
Sony’s trademarks partly revoked citing non-use as major cause in EU
Sony had registered the mark ‘Sony VITA’ for a variety of items with regard to game-playing device, data carriers containing programs and audio and image carriers. Vieta Audio had filed an application to have the registration of the trademark revoked, citing non-use as its main argument. Sony had provided evidence of use but it was ruled not sufficient by both the Cancellation Division and the Board of Appeal. Presently, the EU General Court has agreed that this trademark can be revoked in certain categories due to non-use and it was also stated by the board that this serves as a reminder to games companies that trade marks, if not used in commerce, may be later open to challenge for non-use.
Nevro Corp. v. Boston Scientific Corp.
This long run battle for infringement of patents belonging to Boston Scientific Corp. by Nevro Corp. in relation to a spinal cord simulation technology is coming to an end as the jury has found the medical device company Nevro guilty. Nevro Corp. is directed to pay an amount of $ 20 Million as compensation to Boston Corp. for infringing two of its lead patents. While the Boston group is happy with the decision, the Nevro Corp. is planning to move for an appeal.
Strong worded show-cause order issued to Abtach Ltd. by USPTO
Pakistan based Abtach Ltd. has been alleged for operating dozens of fraudulent low-cost trademark filing agencies. The USPTO has also cited evidences showing Abtach improperly altering USPTO documents to charge victims higher fees. The USPTO claims that Abtach-owned companies sent letters falsely purporting to be from the USPTO, which used an official-looking USPTO letterhead and claimed that someone else was seeking to register the recipient’s name, logo or slogan as a trademark. There are a number of actions initiated against Abtach by the USPTO and the company is required to submit a response to the show- cause order by 17 November, 2021.
Atari Interactive, Inc. v. Redbubble, Inc.
Atari claimed that Redbubble had infringed its Intellectual Property rights by selling apparels and merchandise with its logo and art from its classic video games. Redbubble had argued that it was just a transactional intermediary and that it doesn’t sell, offer or advertise the goods by itself, and that it wasn’t liable for the sales it facilitated which were made and fulfilled by others. The jury ruled that Redbubble was not liable for the claims made by Atari. Atari has also filed cases against a number of similar websites including Zazzle.
Standardized Patent Identification format adopted by various platforms to reduce portfolio management costs
Major platforms such as Cipher, Unified Patents, RPX, Aon and Google Patents are currently offering Standardized Patent Identification Format (SPIF) to bring more efficiency to patent transactions and portfolio management. This SPIF process is the result of the partnership between various platforms for public usage and making the process cost- efficient. One of the key features of SPIF is that it offers a free converter tool that will take patent lists and output a SPIF-compliant file. Currently, this SPIF is free to join and become members.
Tech giants are found to have filed trademark applications in relation to vehicles in India
OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Vivo and Xiaomi are found to have filed trademark applications for driverless cars, boats, self-balancing scooters, remote control vehicles, trolleys, tyres, civilian drones, anti-theft devices and most importantly, Electric vehicles. Screenshots of the trademark applications show that some applications have been approved while others may have been opposed or objected to. But these developments have given a confirmation that these tech giants are planning to place their space in different segments.
China sentences shoe polish counterfeiters to up to 3 years in prison and fine
In a criminal trademark case, the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court has sentenced imprisonment with fine of five people ranging from one year- seven months to three years for the crime of counterfeiting registered trademarks for KIWI shoe polish. The internationally renowned brand was counterfeited without the permission of the trademark owner and a large number of boxes of shoe polishes were sold in the market. Also around 2,50,000 boxes of polishes bearing the mark was seized by the customs.
Spain adopts EU Copyright law
Tech giant Google News had to be stopped in Spain due to the law which was prevailing in the country. The earlier legislation forced it to pay a collective licensing fee to republish headlines or snippets of news. Presently, the legislation adopted by the country from the EU Copyright law requires platforms such as Google, Facebook, etc. that republish news to pay a share of its revenue generated from the news to the original publishers. The collective fee payment mechanism is removed which allows platforms to make agreements with the publishers directly thus benefiting them.
Facebook may face a trademark battle for its new mark “META”
A startup based in Arizona has claimed that it has been using the name and mark Meta PC since 2020 and had filed for the trademark back in August. Facebook has recently announced the launch of the title and mark ‘META’. It is pertinent to note here that Meta PC sells computers, keyboards and other related devices, thus it is clear that both the companies deal with different set of goods and services. Also, Meta PC does not own the mark yet therefore the possibilities of the startup winning the legal battle, if it opts for, is doubtful. However, the proprietors of the startup have made a proposal that, they are willing to stand down if Facebook accepts to pay them a good deal.
IP Insights (for clients)
Why should you protect your Intellectual Property?
The protection of Intellectual Property benefits the individual holder of the particular IP as well as the World Economy as a whole. Intellectual property covers a wide range of areas from the logos, titles, products and different processes. It is important for an individual to protect his IP as it protects and supports business growth, unauthorized use of the identity shall be prevented and you are the King of your inventions and efforts. Apart from this, protection of IP boosts the economy by way of encouraging innovation, driving market competitiveness and generating revenue. There is a general perception among the public that protection of their Intellectual Property Rights are tiring and time consuming. But, the present growth, the number of people safeguarding their IPs and developments in the field of IPR are an actual example of how important it is to protect Intellectual Property. Also the fact is that, investment in protecting one’s IP is worth the time, efforts and cost put into it.