In a fantastic two-part follow-up to Part I of his series on Specialised IP Courts, Shamnad sir critically examines the functioning of specialised IP tribunals in India. In Part II, he thoroughly explores various nuances of the IPAB’s working and operation since it came into existence more than a decade ago, and its performance thus far, on four substantial counts – its constitutional competence, its pendency rates and its possible – although debatable – institutional bias.
In Part III of the series, he views through the same lens, the Commercial Courts established under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 that has paved the way for adjudication of IP disputes by specialised benches. He notes that although the Act has brought in multiple procedural provisions that will significantly contribute towards ensuring the expeditious handling and disposal of matters, its provisions are not without defects. He ponders over three primary concerns – the first, whether the Act should have further expounded upon the criteria necessary for a judge to be considered ‘experienced’ enough to handle commercial disputes ; the second, whether experience gained from adjudicating general commercial matters is sufficient to function as a specialised IP judge ; the third, the need to remedy the risk of insular jurisprudence by ensuring that judges serving in specialised courts are frequently exposed to general areas of law.
Up first, we had a rather fascinating guest post outlining the Basmati GI controversy by Rajendra Kumar, Latha Nair, Ashish Kanta Singh and R. Rajalakshmi of K& S Partners, a leading IP firm in India that appeared for APEDA before the IPAB in the matter (SpicyIP has previously covered the subject here, here and here). The post walks the readers through the significance of GIs and the need to protect Basmati rice by according it a GI tag, and goes on to delve into the specificities of the legal tussle that APEDA was forced to endure before the IPAB ultimately recognized the body as the rightful holder of the GI-tag for Basmati in the its February 5 order.
Next, Shruthi announced a job opportunity at LawStreetIndia (Taxsutra’s Corporate Law portal) for lawyers and/or company secretaries interested in IP and Competition laws. Work assignments shall pertain to research on case laws / legal updates on Companies Act, FEMA, Securities Law, IP Law and Competition Law.
Mathews then put up a tidbit on the Basmati row, announcing that the Madras HC , on a writ petition filed by Madhya Pradesh against the IPAB’s February 5th order in favour of APEDA (see here, here, here and here), has ordered APEDA to refrain from taking any action in respect of basmati rice growing in the state, thereby, effectively staying the IPAB’s order. He adds that the veracity of the report is yet to be confirmed.
Next, Shamnad sir shared excerpts from a rather misplaced and comically outlandish dialogue that had ensued at the Indian Parliament just as a motion to commence a discussion on the Trade Marks Bill, 1999, had been moved – he amusedly notes that the conversation itself had far too little to do with IP itself, and far too much to do with, well, monkeys, elephants and hornbills.
This was followed by Shruthi’s post announcing the Fifth Annual IP Teaching Workshop- 2016 organised by the Centre for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition (CIIPC), National Law University Delhi, in association with the National Academy of Law Teaching, NLU Delhi, to be held on 31st March & 1st April 2016. Check out the post for details !
Kartik then put up Part I of his two-part post on Ringing Bells’ recently launched ‘Freedom 251’ smartphone, priced at an unexpected Rs. 251. He notes that in a country plagued by a significant digital divide, the launch of a 3G smartphone available for the meagre sum of Rs.251 would significantly impact the scale of penetration of technology. He goes on to look into the various considerations that primarily influence smartphone pricing, and ultimately notes that the component and royalty costs alone render it unlikely for a company to be able to profitably manufacture a phone at that price.
Kartik quickly followed up with Part II, where he looks into the controversies that the Freedom 251 phone has found itself embroiled in – particularly considering the phone’s alleged use of Adcom trade marks and Apple’s copyrighted button, licensing issues associated with its use of SEPs, its lack of a Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification, and its seemingly flawed method of distribution. He writes that these allegations make it even harder for one to trust the company’s wildly fanciful claims.
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