SpicyIP Weekly Review (20 September – 27 September, 2015)

Folks, we’ve had a pretty good run this week ! Here’s a quick glance at all that we’ve covered –



SpicyIP Highlight of the Week !

Our SpicyIP Highlight of the Week is Swaraj’s excellent post critiquing the recent (and unanticipated) release of the Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions that has caused much worry and concern amongst think tanks, which they put together in a joint letter to the Prime Minister. He questions the legitimacy of the Patent Office’s decision to issue the Guidelines despite Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act clearly clearly excluding mathematical formula and business methods from patentability. He writes that computer programmes too, remain per se unpatentable, and goes on to substantiate this by discussing how the Guidelines explicitly contravene the provisions of the Indian Patent Act. He notes that the Guidelines essentially have no legal backing, but might inadvertently confuse patent examiners in evaluating the patentability of an invention on account of the conflicting provisions of the guidelines and the Indian Patent Act. He concludes by stating that notwithstanding its good intentions,the Patent Office’s issuance of these guidelines may just be ultra vires of its authority.

We then had Kartik commenting on the landmark ruling issued by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in the Lenz v. Universal case. He wrote that the judgement completely transformed the face of fair use and takedown notices, turning it around on its head, and goes on to discuss the nature of ‘fair use’in the Indian context in the light of this ruling. He concludes by stating that the interpretation of fair use born out of Lenz v. Universal will work in favour of public good for years to come.

This was followed by my post on Supreme Court’s dismissal of the Special Leave Petition filed by IPRS in the IPRS v. Union of India matter –in the hope of having the Bombay HC’s order upholding the Government’s right to enquire into its irregularities, overturned. I briefly covered the reasons behind the Government’s issue of the order to look into IPRS’ affairs, drawing from the many posts we have devoted to IPRS and its unlawful activities over the past few years, finally concluding that since IPRS has now exhausted all its legal remedies, the Government must appoint and Enquiry Officer and close in on the company at the earliest.

Next, we had Swaraj discussing the misdirected outrage over ex-hedge fund manager and current founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli’s decision to increase the price of Daraprim (treatment for toxoplasmosis) by 5500% overnight from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. He writes that Shkreli, in doing what a bunch of other pharmaceutical companies are already doing, but perhaps a tad bit higher on the scale, drew attention to the critical area of drug pricing like never before. He traces through the issue of price rises and concludes by asserting that while he may not know the perfect answer to this issue altogether, Shkreli’s decision has certainly thrown open the doors to a wider public debate.

This was followed by Balaji’s tidbit covering two interesting international developments we caught eye of, during the week – he first briefly discussed the monkey-selfie copyright conundrum that we covered on the blog sometime back, and wrote that the round two of the issue had commenced – with PETA filing a copyright infringement suit against the photographer as the next friend of Naruto, the mischievous little macaque responsible for the entire mess. Next, he discussed the Happy Birthday copyright ownership question – where a California District Court judge ruled that there was no evidence to support the contention that Warner/Chappell owned the classical birthday song. He however, notes that the song might very well not be in the public domain – merely declaring that Warner/Chappell doesn’t own the copyright doesn’t effectively translate into the fact that nobody owns the copyright to the song, and that the original author might very well have asserted her rights over the song at some point in the past.

Finally, we had Gopika put up a post on the recent matter before the Delhi HC, where the Court issued an interim injunction against Doordarshan in a copyright infringement case involving renowed playwright Dr. Sayeed Alam, acclaimed Indian actor Tom Alter, and Doordarshan. She takes us through the facts of the case as well as the arguments advanced by the opposing sides, and concludes that the significance of this matter goes beyond mere copyright infringement or contractual breach. This is because the matter involves a Government body knowingly and willfully colluding with producers to infringe upon the moral right and copyright of artists and writers – she hopes that the injunction passed by the Court will hopefully deter similar arrangements in the future.



  1. Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1992 movie – Batman Returnsgets copyright protection!
  2. Apple files trademark application for ‘Apple Pencil’ design mark
  3. European Court of Justice rejects Nestle’s trademark case for Kitkat’s four-fingered shape
  4. Marilyn Monroe’s Estate files trademark infringement suit against nostalgia merchandiser AVELA
  5. Canada’s control over patent drug prices challenged by US company
  6. Activists oppose Merck Sharp & Dohme’s attempt to ‘evergreen’ expensive antiretroviral drug, Raltegravir, in Thailand


Kiran George

Kiran Mary George is a Third Year student at ILS Law College, Pune. Her first stint in the world of Intellectual Property law was an internship with a registered copyright society that granted her an insight into the world of copyright in music. Since then, her interest in IPR has taken strong hold, and she enjoys keeping close tabs on developments in the field. She is still discovering her interests, but so far takes a special liking to open access, copyright and trademarks.

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