Weekly Review (10th-16th February, 2014)

This week saw SpicyIP cover a wide array of topics. It began with Aparajita discussing in two different posts, Indian submissions made to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision to investigate India’s trade, investment and industrial policies and how it affects the U.S. Economy. The first post covered the submissions made by Professor Srividhya Ragavan (University of Oklahoma College of Law), Brook Baker (Northeastern University School of Law), and Sean Flynn (American University Washington College of Law) on issues pertaining to the Indian Patent Regime. The main theme of their submission was that India’s patent policies, including controversial aspects of it like the Novartis decision, are consonant with the TRIPs. The second post about the USITC investigation covered submissions made by the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, which also attempt to clear the air about Section 3(d), Novartis, Compulsory Licensing, Patent Opposition/procedural requirements and marketing authorizations.

Gopika then covered the decisions of a District Judge in Lucknow granting temporary injunctions in favour of Eastern Book house, restraining Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier Corporation from infringing their copyright over Supreme Court Cases (SCC).  

Following this, we carried two guest posts. The first was from Sadhvi Sood, who wrote an interesting post on how copyright law can be used as a weapon against the unfortunate internet phenomenon of “revenge porn”.  The second was by Shashank Mangal, who wrote about the possible action Baba Films and Eros International could take in response to being served a legal notice by Warner Brothers  for trademark infringement in the movie title ‘Action Jackson’.

I then reported that the Indian Government had notified guidelines on the functioning of the Madrid Protocol. It was noted that as the Guidelines have consolidated all the laws relating to the Protocol in one document, the extent of the Trade Mark’s Registry’s role has become clear and it will be interesting to see how the TMR shoulders this responsibility.

Following that, I covered the news that ‘Dumb Starbucks’ made when it opened shop in Los Angeles with similar design, decor and menu as Starbucks- except the coffee was free. I looked at whether it was a ‘dumb’ idea with respect to infringement of Starbucks’ trade mark and copyright over their brand.

The week concluded with Devika writing two posts on the world of advertisements. The first post covered the decision of the Central Consumer Protection Council to hold actors accountable for misleading advertisements, where she remarked that this move will promote responsibility in actors in how they use their ‘image’. She then drew our attention to the new Lay’s Ad which uses the character ‘Sid’ from the film Wake Up Sid- and whether such usage of characters from films to promote products can possibly infringe copyright.

The ‘news of the week’ in the Indian IP Scene (and otherwise) is that of Penguin Books India buckling under pressure from conservative activist groups and agreeing to withdraw from sale and pulp all copies of the controversial book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’. The Alternative Law forum sent Penguin a strongly worded legal notice, where among other demands, it was demanded that Penguin surrender its copyright over the book to the public since the Publishing House has “effectively acknowledged that it is no longer interested in exercising its copyright” over the book (Pengiun was asked to stop being a ‘chicken’).  Regardless of Penguin’s decision to do so, there are several internet sources from which the book can be downloaded for free online; the legality of which is an interesting question.

International Developments

On a related note, an important international development is the recent decision of the EU’s Court of Justice which says that posting hyperlinks  to copyrighted content cannot amount to copyright infringement (so if you want to protest against Penguin’s actions by sharing links to the banned book, it’s legal- at least in Europe!). This decision does, however, carry a caveat- that if a hyperlink helps users bypass a subscription requirement or the like, it will amount to infringement. This decision must also be seen in the context of press protection measures being taken by several European countries. IPKat reports that the Spanish Government is considering law reforms that gives the press an ancillary right over news content– which means that they may be able to charge search engines for displaying their copyrighted content. Meanwhile, a German Court has held that a domain name registrar can be held liable for copyright infringement if it is “obvious” that the domain is being used for infringement.

A panel at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research was constituted to discuss issues relating to internet governance in a seminar titled Preventing Cyber Conflicts. Among the concerns raised at the seminar was the continuing divergence among nations in regulating the internet, and how the “one state, one vote” principle in the UN system can lead to a “race to the bottom”, the bottom being a more controlled internet, reports IP-Watch.

The Treatment Action Campaign, a South African AIDS activist organisation has come out with a research paper on South Africa’s patent regime-with evidence highlighting how the present system allows foreign exploitation at the cost of local growth and access to resources and medicines. It has also proposed ideas for a more rational patent regime that takes into account South Africa’s unique medical, social and economic needs.

We end this week’s review with an interesting survey done by Mr. Dennis Crouch, a Law Professor at the University of Missouri. He went through hundreds of law journal articles that mention “Intellectual Property” in the title, to see which area of IP Law the article actually focused on. This was the result of the survey:

That wraps up our weekly review. We look forward to your continued readership!


Spadika Jayaraj

Spadika Jayaraj

Spadika is a student of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Apart from Intellectual Property Law, she is also interested in Law and Technology issues.

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