SpicyIP Weekly Review (September Week 4)

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court earlier this month made critical remarks on the government’s failure to finalize the drug policy pending since 2003, calling it a ‘slur on the face of all stake-holders’. Following this, the Group of Ministers held meetings to consider a retail pricing mechanism for essential drugs. It was agreed that the prices of 348 drugs set out in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) will be covered under the policy. The drug policy is vital for addressing accessibility and affordability concerns at all levels of healthcare in India. Mathews, in his post, rightly pointed out observations made by the IPAB in denying the stay order to Bayer Corp over the compulsory license wherein the Bench stated that ‘right of access of medicines is as  much as a matter of right to dignity of the patients’.

Shouvik reported three unrelated but connected events which promise to give a major boost to access to knowledge in India. First up is Prof. Anil Gupta’s brainchild Techpedia, an open source virtual platform for professionals and students of technical fields to disseminate, edit and improve their works in addition to seeking assistance on solving problems. As Shouvik puts it, Techpedia is undoubtedly Wikipedia’s technical counterpart. Recently, Techpedia received applause from NIT engineers during a conclave in Nagpur. Next up is Knimbus, a first-of-its-kind initiative which fuses social networking features to facilitate access to scientific content, sharing and networking with peers on a real time basis. Since its inception only a year ago, , Knimbus has a user base of over 30,000 researchers and scientists. Lastly, the Centre for Internet & Society (CIS) received grants from the Wikimedia Foundation for its access to knowledge program in India. CIS will now collaborate with the Wikimedia community to expand the latters’ Indic language free knowledge projects.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) announced a first-of-its-kind online certificate course on ‘IPR and Pharmaceutical R&D’ (CCIPR). The course aims to provide a platform to understand the working of the pharmaceutical industry, its business models, research, regulatory aspects and its relevance with respect to IPR. The course is open to students and professionals in the pharmaceutical industry. Registration closes on October 25, 2012. For more details please visit www.ficciipcourse.in or email at [email protected].

International Developments

The European Trade Council and German Tea Association agreed to confer Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to Darjeeling tea, as reported by the Economic Times. This is in continuance with the earlier grant of G.I. status on Darjeeling tea by the European Union. Henceforth, blenders in Europe cannot sell any tea mixture as Darjeeling tea unless the content is purely originating from Darjeeling.

The Cypriot Presidency on September 27, 2012 published the latest draft of the Unified Patent Court agreement, reports the IPKat. The Central Division of the Court will be located in Paris, with London and Munich as other divisions. Among other issues, the draft clarifies that the Court shall have the same jurisdictions as national courts in relation to European patents. 

An actress who appeared in ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the film which wreaked havoc in the Middle East, filed another lawsuit to take down the 13 minute film trailer on YouTube. Cindy Lee Garcia, in a desperate attempt, filed the suit alleging copyright infringement on the part of Google Inc. and sought unspecified damages. The actress claimed copyright over the movie and accused the director of illegal distribution of the movie. Garcia earlier stated that she was duped into believing that the movie was ‘Desert Warriors’ and had no clue that the movie would have anything to do with the Prophet. In my opinion, there are little merits in the suit simply because copyrights usually vests with the producer of cinematographic film and actors acquire rights only upon express agreement.  

In a shocking development, Google disabled an author’s AdSense account for torrenting his own book for free and for providing torrent links on his blog. Cody Jackson published his book on programming language Python on CC license and torrented them on Pirate Bay and Demonoid. He received an auto generated message last week from Google accusing him of ‘hosting copyrighted files on your site, as well as providing links for or driving traffic to sites that contain copyrighted material’. Google rejected his request to restore his account when he tried to explain his situation forcing him to remove the links from his blog.  His AdSense account is, however, yet to be restored.

The neutrality stance of Google came under fire once again following the arrest of its president of operations in Brazil, following the delay in the removal of two videos on YouTube that allegedly slander, insult and defame a candidate in a Brazilian town. An electoral court had earlier held the crime in question to be one of disobedience. Google has repeatedly attempted to stress on its role as an ‘internet middleman’ with no liability over the content posted by its users. The suit presents a jurisdictional dilemma as the employees in the company’s US headquarters are being sued by local courts and authorities even outside the country. 

The African Union is soon to setup the Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO), a specialized agency at the inter-governmental level. PAIPO’s primary functions involve standard setting, harmonization of laws, policy formulation, promoting and development of IP in the Union. On the other hand, opposition to the Agreement is slowly gaining momentum and some even fear disastrous consequences on access to drugs and human right violations in Africa.


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