A few updates on Global IP

Seizures on Drug Consignments

At the recent WTO TRIPS meeting, India and Brazil, along with 9 other developing countries strongly criticised the EU for its attitude towards generic medicines in transit between developing countries. On 26th of March, Indian officials said that they will be ready to drag Brussels to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if they do not change their stance on allowing Indian drugs transit through EU customs even after their bilateral negotiations. In previous posts, we have pointed out the wrongful seizures of the generic drugs in transit by the EU custom officials. Indian officials have described these seizures as acts of piracy by the EU. There could perhaps be a link between this and another on going disagreement surrounding the issue of the definition of “counterfeit” as per the WHO mandate. (see our previous post here)

Latha Jishnu has provides a detailed list of consequences to the current choking of Indian generics here.

ACTA suppressed for reasons of National Security?

One would think that the new Obama government would be less likely to try pushing matters under shrouds of secrecy, especially in the light off Obama’s campaigning that only transparency could restore the citizens trust in the government. However earlier this year, in response to a Freedom of Information request for documents on the ACTA negotiations, USA’s foreign trade office claimed that the documents are “classified in the interest of national security.” How National Security comes into the picture is anybody’s guess. USA is not the only one being criticised for keeping the ACTA proceedings under wraps. Severe criticism has come in on the Canadian Government and EU as well. Michael Geist from Canada has put together a comprehensive timeline of events that the ACTA has gone through, starting all the way from lobbying back in 2004.
While on one hand they are claiming secrecy for reasons of National Security, on the other hand, there are a large number of corporate lobbyists who have been let in on the negotiations. (Click here for a list of parties which have access to the documents.)
Recently in the EU, the EU Parliament has demanded more transparency from the EU, specifically pointing out the ACTA.
There’s an excellent article here which analyses the problems and consequences of the ACTA and its secret negotiations.

Microsoft and TomTom settle

After some anticipation as to how the suit would go, TomTom has finally bowed to the (financial) pressure and has agreed to a settlement with Microsoft. The terms of the settlement are said to be in compliance with the GPL license, with TomTom paying Microsoft for for coverage under the patents in the Microsoft case, and with Microsoft also recieving coverage under the 4 patents included in the countersuit. TomTom also is to remove functionality related to two FAT patents.

Earlier, there had been some sort of promise of a fight, with a countersuit being filed by TomTom after Microsoft had initially filed a suit for patent infringement over some kernels, support for which is implemented by Linux. Further, TomTom then joined Open Invention Network (OIN), a company which (as per Wikipedia) “acquires patents and licenses them royalty free to entities which, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against Linux or Linux-related applications”. This lead to a wide-spread belief that Tomtom would fight it out in court, as opposed to the rather tame end that eventually occured. The settling of the case(s) however, means that the question of Microsoft’s FAT patents validity is yet to be tested in court.

Groklaw has provided a detailed coverage of the settlement.

G20 considering Global IP Court?
On a lighter note, IP-Watch, IP Think Tank and IP-Kitten have posted on a G20 summit agreement for a Global IP Court to come up by 2012.
The Chinese have suggested that this Court be located in China, since that is where everyone says most infringing products are made.”
On a lighter note” because, besides a few confused bloggers, the consequences of this, would not reach beyond April 2nd, 2009. A well carried out April Fools joke carried out by these widely read blogs!


  1. AvatarAnonymous

    Hi Swaraj,

    Pardon me but I could not understand what the last sentence of your post (IP Updates) suggests.
    Is the thing about Global IP Court by 2012, a big April Fools Joke??


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