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SpicyIP Weekly Review (23rd to 29th June, 2014)


spicyipREVDevika started the week off with a report on the 136th Meeting of the INTA. She emphasised on the fact that there was a sizeable Indian representation at the meeting and that some of the most pressing trademark issues such as parallel imports, ambush marketing and developments in well-known trademarks were discussed at the meeting. She also highlights the speech of Mr. Ram Awtar Tiwari, Assistant Registrar, Trademarks and GI, at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at the WIPO’s Madrid System Users’ Meeting (MSUM). The 137th Meeting is to be held in San Diego California while INTA will be holding seminars in two cities in India on the Madrid Protocol in October of 2014.

Mathews then posted about the Natural Justice Fellowship program. The Fellowship carries with it a monthly honorarium of twenty thousand rupees. 4 July 2014 is the deadline for the fellowship program. For details, see here. Devika then posted a tidbit about the blocking of Zee News’ YouTube channel for “multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.” However the channel was reinstated the next day without a reason given from either party. She points out that YouTube’s policies regarding copyright protection can be too stringent at times and that they follow a ‘guilty until proven otherwise approach’. She also pointed to YouTube’s unfavourable policies towards small Indie artists who were asked to sign contracts with unreasonable royalty rates or face the blocking of their channels.

We then had a guest post from Karthik, talking about the recent controversy surrounding copyright and Carnatic Music, where recording companies seem to be claiming copyright over classical Carnatic compositions and getting material taken down from YouTube. He offered a glimpse into how the composers and the musicians in the fraternity perceived issues of authorship and others. He also spoke about the issues that Parivadini, a nascent venture into improving access to CM worldwide by webcasting and archiving Carnatic Music kutcheris on YouTube was facing legal issues over alleged copyright claims on the underlying compositions. Madhulika posted next about patent pledges and Tesla’s recent decision not to pursue legal action against anyone who utilises their patented electric car technology in good faith. She points out that such patent pledges are becoming increasingly common in the recent past and often rely on estoppel and implied licenses.

Mathews then introduced for us Prashant’s write up on judicial reforms which was posted on LegallyIndia. It talks about reforms that need to be made with regards to the judiciary and points out that pendency is one among many issues that affect the judiciary. He notes that Prashant opines in his write up that transparency is desperately needed in the judiciary. The Judicial Statistics Bill, if passed, in his opinion would go a long way in affecting some change. He also believes that the attitude of the judiciary towards the RTI Act could be less hostile.

Swaraj then brought us very encouraging news that the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) announced a decision to give the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat a mandate to create a pool fund that will allow the price of a drug to be delinked from the R&D costs involved in creating that drug. He also reported that the Longitude Prize 2014 announced that their vote count had come in, and the public had voted for their £10 million prize to go towards solving the antibiotics crisis. He concludes by pointing out that a prize system also delinks R&D costs from the ability of patients to pay for a treatment, making drugs cheaper and more accessible.

Swaraj also posted about India making it to the International Piracy Watch-list. He points out that the report titled “The International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus Watchlist” throws up some interesting ironies in the name itself. He also points out that our presence on the list is merely because we were on the USTR’s Special 301 Report and assigns no other reasons for the same.

Spadika brought up the last post of this week and what is perhaps the SpicyIP highlight of the week, on the Indian Patent Office’s denial of a patent for the anti-cancer drug Abraxane. She writes that the patent was rejected on the grounds it lacked inventive step, and under S.3(d) of the Patents Act, i.e. the drug did not demonstrate enhanced efficacy over a known substance. Natco has a version of the same drug that run into some regulatory trouble with the DCGI. Abraxis is expected to either appeal the order in front of the IPAB again, or file a Writ Petition. If the order of the IPO is upheld, it is a win for generic drug manufacturers.

International Developments:

It seems as though the talk around the decision of the SCOTUS in Alice hasn’t really subsided (and people seem to be finding new ways to extend the Alice in Wonderland analogy). Here are a few pieces:

  1. Curiouser and Curiouser? More details on Alice v CLS Bank decision of SCOTUS
  2. The Supreme Court’s Alice Decision on Patent Eligibility of Computer-Implemented Inventions: Finding an Oasis In the Desert
  3. The Three Faces of Prometheus: Alice and Generic Application
  4. SCOTUSblog symposium on Alice v. CLS Bank
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Thomas J. Vallianeth

Thomas is a final year law student at the National Law University, Jodhpur pursuing a B.Sc. LL.B. (IP Hons.) course. His first exposure to IP law was at a workshop that he attended in High School and ever since then, he has pursued a keen interest in the field. However, his real interests lie in the interfaces between Technology Law and IP, with an active interest in the Open Source movement.

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