SpicyIP Tidbits

1. Bajaj-TVS spat revs up again

India’s second largest two-wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto Limited (BAL) on Saturday has asserted that the company is going to take necessary steps so that its intellectual property rights (IPR) remain protected.

BAL is currently involved with TVS Motor Co over a patent issue involving the BAL’s Digital Twin Spark-ignition (DTS-i) which it claims TVS has copied in its new 125cc bike Flame. Flame is expected to hit the market by next month.

Refuting Bajaj’s claim, TVS had last week filed Rs 250 crore defamation suit in Bombay High Court against the Pune-based bike maker.

Read more here and here.

The plot thickens.

2. Ranbaxy’s trademark ‘zwyciestwo’?

The Delhi High Court has restrained a Poland-based company from using the domain name ‘www.ranbaxy.eu’, which is similar to domestic drug maker Ranbaxy’s domain name, says this report.

“The plaintiff (Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd) is the registered owner of the domain name ‘www.ranbaxy.com’. Therefore, it has a legitimate interest in protecting its brand name ‘RANBAXY’… On the other hand, defendant (foreign company) cannot have any interest because it is not the registered proprietor of the same, ” Justice B D Ahmed said.

Ranbaxy, with a turnover of around Rs 51 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2005, is registered in 62 countries including Poland. It argued that the foreign company had adopted the trademark in bad faith to derive unfair advantage.

Minor victory, or ‘Zwyciestwo’ as the Polish would say, for Ranbaxy?

3. Pressing against pre-grant opposition

Old wine brought out of the cellar? Mint reports here that the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, or Oppi, an industry body representing foreign-owned drug firms in the country, has reiterated demands for removing pre-grant opposition provisions in Indian patent law.

The amended law provides opportunity for opponents to file objections to patent claims by drug firms before and after granting the patent. Known as pre-grant and post-grant oppositions, these provisions are being largely used by local drug companies who make generic or copy versions of drugs invented by others.

An uncommon provision in patent law, Oppi alleges that local drug makers and non-governmental agencies are misusing this to unnecessarily delay the patent application process.

4. Cryptic Cricket? Crikey!

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati told the Delhi High Court that BCCI and Nimbus Communication could not force it to encrypt live feed of cricket matches of national importance that it receives from private broadcasters, says this report.

Prasar Bharati suggested instead: “They have not challenged the provisions of the statutes (Sports Act and Cable TV Network Act) and are simply asking for encryption on the ground that cable operators are violating their (Neo Sports) intellectual property rights. If their rights are violated they can take action against the operators,”.

Nimbus had earlier contended that they were giving live feed to DD, which in turn gave to their Kendras unencrypted feed, which was being picked up by cable operators, an act of piracy.

Along with the BCCI, Nimbus had filed a petition seeking direction for encryption of DD signals to prevent illegal transmission of live feed by private operators.

It will be interesting to see what the court finally says on the matter, especially in context of the dramatic ‘cricket-is-of-national-importance’ messages sent out earlier by the government (See here and here.)

5. Strengthening traditional knowledge protection

ET reports: India has taken up with the US the issue of protecting Indian traditional knowledge from being patented in that country.

India wants the US to sign an agreement on sharing the Indian traditional knowledge digital library so that it can cross-check with India before granting patents on products and their properties and uses that have been known in India for centuries.

Things are speeding up on the home front, too.

India is readying a database in five languages on its traditional knowledge – English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese – to ensure that authorities dealing with intellectual property rights in foreign patent offices do not wrongfully grant patents to Indian products or processes.

Read more here.

6. Plagued by Pay-TV piracy

A new report from the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) and Standard Chartered Bank finds that piracy has cost the Asian pay-TV industry $1.54 billion in lost revenues, up from $1.13 billion a year ago, says this report.

A large part of the rise in total revenue losses for 2007 can be attributed to a 20 percent U.S. dollar re-alignment against the Indian rupee. According to CASBAA, India is a market with 73 million pay-TV connections, but suffers from heavy-handed government regulation that has created a lack of investment in infrastructure. India’s pay-TV revenue leakage reached $985 million in net losses in 2007, an increase of 44 percent over 2006.

The 2007 survey of pay-TV piracy covers Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Macau and this year’s addition, Pakistan. The report highlights the impact of pay-TV signal theft and unlicensed pay-TV operators on regional economies amid new technological developments.

7. Hark! Bollywood, there be Film Pirates

Stronger enforcement of copyright laws and educating audiences are a must if Bollywood wants to reduce millions of dollars in losses incurred every year because of piracy, says Dan Glickman, chief of the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), Reuters reports here.

Industry estimates suggest India’s entertainment industry loses more than $400 million dollars in revenue.

“We have created a ‘best practices’ roadmap for university computer network usage and in many countries MPAA and MPAA member company executives speak to university students about copyright and its importance”, Glickman said here.

MPA has created a booklet warning about the risks of peer-to-peer file sharing, which has been distributed to young people, he added.

Another report here.

Glickman seems to be dropping big hints: ‘watch (sic) and learn’ is what I hear.

At the same time, there was this piece: two Hindi films – Jab We Met and No Smoking – were available free online practically within hours of release in the theatres.


8. Endnote: Great Scot! Thank McSporran For Smoking!

Sir Brinsley McSporran, the Scottish inventor of the chocolate ashtray, the soluble teaspoon, the ricketts straightener, the condom recycler and the single-wheeled motorcyle, now has something new to give to the world, the Bangkok Jungle reports here.

Sir Brinsley McSporran, the noted Scottish genius and prolific inventor has patented a new cigarette designed to save time and productivity and rid the world of what he calls ‘marginal smokers’.

The new comestible is designed to let the 20-a-day man cut down his intake to just four or five cigarettes a day without losing his nicotine requirement. This means the smoker need spend less time down in the office building lobby or worse, out on the pavement having a crafty smoke, as MacSporran noticed many do – some returning every twenty minutes or so to get their ‘fix’.

Distant memories of Gyro Gearloose spring to mind, but to be fair, Sir McSporran probably deserves a place in Menlo Park.


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