SpicyIP Weekly Review (November 13-19)

This week’s topical highlight was Prof. Shamnad’s insightful tribute to celebrated singer Leonard Cohen. Prof. Shamnad writes a heartwarming piece on Cohen’s life as a musician and examines his tryst with copyright. He notes that while Cohen lost all rights in his blockbuster song “Suzzane”, he took it like a sport and cherished the purity of the music and the moment. He also recounts Cohen’s forgiving and compassionate nature while dealing with a former manager-friend who ripped off the singer for $5 million. Prof. Basheer hopes that us argumentative Indians will take inspiration from Cohen’s virtues and fall out of the temptation for polarity.

This week’s thematic highlight is Rajiv’s amazing analysis of all the decisions delivered by all four patent offices in the month of April 2016. Using a melodious crunch of big numbers, a couple of insightful pie-charts along with a humongous pool of information, he makes the following oberservations: (i) that there has been a tremendous growth of almost 267% in number of decisions since 2013, (ii) that patent grants have also risen with 228/400 applications being granted but that (iii) a disturbingly large number of decisions comprised only 1 line/paragraph while granting a patent. Rajiv also apprehends that the patent offices seemed to have incorrectly applied the revised guidelines on computer related inventions to applications dealing with Section 3(k). Lastly, he emphasises the necessity of consitency among all four patent offices in in decisions arising out of similar patent applications.

This week’s first post was a public petition by Prof. Shamnad and Aparajita for easing the electronic filing system at the Indian trademark registry and IPO. While they acknowledge the benefits of taking the filing process online, they provide an innovative approach to make e-filing even easier.  Noting that the IP Office requires a Class 3 digital signature, they propose the replacement of this requirement with that of a Class 2 signature. This is because unlike the latter, a Class 3 signature is issued only after physical appearance before the Certifying Authority. They also petition that the government release the application programming interface for the TMR and IPO websites to encourage app developers to innovate and optimize performance of government websites.

Pankhuri then brought us a brief take on the recent development in the DU Photocopy Case. She reports that the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO) , the Association of Publishers in India (API) and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) have intervened in the appeal arising out of the Delhi High Court’s judgment. The intervention applications filed by them can be found herehere and here. Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna, JJ. allowed each of these applications for intervention in an order dated November 8, 2016.

Next was Balu’s piece on the latest ‘Access to Medicine Index’, a biennial study that ranks the top 20 research based pharmaceutical companies. The four key findings of the Index are based on research and development of products for the most burdensome diseases, effective deployment, an access to medicine strategy and capacity building in low and middle income countries. Companies are ranked on the basis of their ability to effectively increase access to medicines, vaccination and diagnostics for middle and low income countries. The top-spot has been retained by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for the fifth consecutive time.

This was followed by Rahul’s take on the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to deliberate upon and clarify the liability of online intermediaries. Rahul notes that this decision, seeking assistance of the Attorney General of India, comes in the backdrop of an allegation of criminal defamation against Google for hosting defamatory posts. Google unsuccessfully petitioned the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which held that Google failed to expeditiously remove the impugned content and the safe harbor provision under the amended Section 79 is not applicable to Google as the cause of action arose prior to its enactment. In appeal before the SC, Google pleaded that it was nearly impossible to scan its entire database to filter such allegedly defamatory content, especially because there is no objective method of determining whether any content is defamatory. Relying upon the landmark decision in Shreya Singhal v. UOI, Rahul argues that an intermediary would be liable only if it fails to remove objectionable content when it is asked to remove such content by way of a court order and that the SC should preserve the immunity of such intermediaries in a balanced manner.

Lastly, Pankhuri announced a brilliant opportunity for a post-doctoral research fellowship for an international development and IP project. The 9-month fellowship is an AHRC funded IP project dealing with innovation in plant breeding among small farmers in rural India. The application deadline is November 21, 2016. Further information about the position and the application process can be found here.

International Developments

  1. Appropriation Artist Richard Prince slapped with a copyright infringement suit for using Eric McNatt’s photograph of Kim Gordon
  2. YouTube User faces a $300,000 fine over Donald Trump parody video titled ‘A Clockwork Trump vs. A Trumpwork Orange’
  3. Apple Loses Fight in China for Trademark in Apple Watch
  4. NBA Star Joel Embiid files for Trademark in his official nickname ‘The Process’
  5. Samsung seeks to patent foldable smart-phone

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