SpicyIP Weekly Review (August 21–August 27)

As always, it’s been a busy week at Spicy IP, folks and it’s time again to reflect on the eventful week for the blog and the IP world.

This week’s thematic highlight is Balaji Subramanian’s deep and insightful analysis on the recent Monsanto v Union of India judgement which tries to answer questions relating to taxability of IP licenses as goods or services. Apart from analyzing the judgement itself, he discusses composite contracts and TRUGs, with promises of another post analyzing the problematic rationale of the court.

The topical highlight for this week is surely the post  authored jointly by Prof. Basheer, Pankhuri and Ritvik which put to rest the misinformation reported by several media outlets that merely viewing a blocked website or its contents can lead to imprisonment of 3 years and up to 3 lakhs in fine. In this post, he discusses the Dishoom John Doe orders issued by the Bombay High Court which lead to blocking of the URLs and analyzes the subsequent bungled up message displayed by Tata Communications Ltd.

Our first post this week was Balu’s fascinating write-up on the 90 year woman who saw a piece of art resembling a crossword puzzle at a museum and actually filled it in, only to claim copyright over her new creation! Here, Balu explores the history of art movements and their impact of the copyright principle of transformative use.

Prashant Reddy brought us his post on the recent Delhi High Court judgement of ISRA v Chapter 25 Bar and Restaurant which restrained a Delhi food establishment from infringing the performing rights administered by the ISRA. Here, he analyzes the judgement as well the scope of performer’s rights under the Copyright Act 1957 vis-à-vis live performances and studio performances.

In a revival of the “Blast from the Past” series, I visited the bygone case of Krishna Sobti v Amrita Pritam. where two literary giants battled it out over the use of the term “Zindaginama”. This case explores the important issue of copyright in titles and the threshold for granting such copyright on the basis of originality and creativity.

Aparajita brought us a very interesting piece on overlaps in IP by discussing a recent case where the one manufacturer of containers sued another who manufactured products similar in shape and design for trademark infringement. The Plaintiff argued that the shape of the container itself functioned as a trademark. Here, the position of law with respect to overlapping IP regimes (in this case, design and trademark) is discussed.

Next, Inika brought us her piece on the curious case of an artist who denied having painted a particular painting, causing the owner of the painting to sue him as his disavowal of the work prevented the owner from selling his painting! In this post, Inika discusses the moral rights issue in this case and analyzes its legal position in India and the legislative lacuna this kind of situation would likely face.

Following this, we have Mathews’ post discussing the interim order in Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. v M/s R.S. Sales Corp & Anr. where the plaintiff sued the defendants for using the “PETER ENGLAND” mark. Here, the position with respect to alleging infringement irrespective of use has been discussed.

In this next post, Rajiv informs us of the DIPP’s efforts in soliciting comments from stakeholders and associations in order to further increase awareness on IP issues at the grassroots level. He lists out the various suggestions provided and invites our readers to send in their own.

Reproducing his Wire piece, Prof. Basheer proposes an alternative dispute resolution system for John Doe actions seeking to block infringing websites; a neutral Ombudsman. He lays out the structure and functions of such a body which can serve to expeditiously resolve such disputes and authenticate the claims of the plaintiff in order to ensure neutrality.

We then have two posts by Pankhuri. In the first, she informs us that Clairvolex is setting up an Expert Center in Bangalore and is looking to hire patent engineers, patent agents and patent attorneys for this new office. In the second, she discusses the interim orders issued by Justice Patel to unblock the website “www.induna.com” after the victim of this erroneous blocking emailed him. Pankhuri discusses the background of this case and the reasoning used by the court.

In our last post for the week, Rahul Bajaj brings us a profound piece arguing for the superiority of desi cotton over Monsanto’s Bt cotton and the welcome large scale adoption of desi cotton varieties by farmers in North India. Here, he discusses the modalities used by Government to incentivize the use of desi cotton and analyzes its impact on Monsanto’s expansion plans in India.

International Developments:

  1. Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley won a copyright infringement suit after being accused of “stealing” their duet, “Remind Me”.
  2. Hans Zimmer won a copyright case and received an apology after being sued over the music to “12 Years a Slave”.
  3. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams appeal against the “Blurred Lines” ruling.
  4. The Mozilla Foundation demands that the EU enact laws to provide fair use exceptions for parody, education, panorama, remixes etc.
  5. Singapore considers a VPN ban by amendment to their Copyright Act.
  6. Sydney based Australian Leather and US giant Deckers battle to claim the “Ugg” boots trademark in the US.
  7. Citibank and AT&T drop the litigation over “THANKYOU” mark.
  8. Apple filed a patent for touch ID biometric identification technology to safeguard its devices.
  9. Honda files patent for a 11-speed triple- clutch gearbox in Japan.

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