SpicyIP Weekly Review (July 9 – July 15)

Our thematic highlight for this week also doubles as the debut post of our First Scholar in Practice, Harshavardhan Ganesan. Through his post, Harsha attempts to revisit ‘publicity rights’ – a term he uses interchangeably with ‘personality rights’. Beginning with an introduction into the concept of publicity rights, he quickly moves on to his core argument: that publicity rights do not fit within the IP regime. He justifies this argument with the observation that Publicity Rights are lacking in several aspects that are conceptually fundamental to IP rights. Chief among these are – the inability of Publicity Rights to incentivize the holder of this right, and the role of the public in shaping such rights. Harsha concludes by directing us toward some of the major loose ends in the field, taking care to tie up his own post with a clever (and timely) Game of Thrones reference.

Prashant and Divij both brought us this week’s topical highlights. Prashant’s post updates us on the scrapping of the NOC requirement for registering new plant varieties under the PPVFR Act. Previously, in order to register new plant varieties under the PPVFR Act, Indian plant breeders had to obtain NOCs from patentees of GM traits used in the new plant varieties developed by them. Prashant first explains the interplay of bio-tech patent rights with those granted to breeders under the PPVFR Act. He then examines the grounds on which this requirement was scrapped. He concludes in favour of the move, arguing that this would help limit the power wielded by bio-tech companies over Indian markets.

Divij, through his post, deconstructs the recent Canadian SC order that issued a ‘global injunction’ against Google. After briefly looking into the background of the case, Divij notes that the order compels Google to de-index certain URLs over all of its domains, giving the order an extra-territorial reach. He then analyses the order against the larger backdrop of global intermediary liability. He argues that not only does the order effectively undermine principles of judicial comity, but also spills over the boundaries of IP law to affect other areas of law that are more sensitive to limitations of jurisdiction.  He concludes by noting that this order essentially reverses a trend, wherein courts in most jurisdictions refrain from issuing orders with the potential for extraterritorial effect.

Finally, I reported on the recent incorporation of ‘Phonographic Digital Limited’ – an entity tasked with the licensing of sound recordings to telecos and streaming services. I begin with a perusal of the company master data, and move on to a reading of the Company’s objects clause found in its Memorandum of Association (MoA). I then point out that this development pulls us back into an all too familiar debate surrounding Indian Copyright law: the functioning of licensing bodies as companies, instead of copyright societies regulated by the Copyright Act, 1957.

International IP Developments:

Sreyoshi Guha

Sreyoshi is a law student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. Her favourite thing about Intellectual Property Law is Copyrights. She can usually be found doing one of three things: dog-earing her favourite pages of her books, looking up a Zomato menu, or day-dreaming of the day she'll finally meet John Mayer. She doesn't have any notable achievements, except probably that one time when she encountered a crazy pigeon, and lived to tell the tale. Send her your thoughts at: [email protected]

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