SpicyIP Weekly Review (August 30 – September 5)

The End of the IPAB and Lessons on Concentration of Judicial Powers

An image saying ‘Every end is a New Beginning’ (image from here)

Prashant wrote about how the now scrapped IPAB has always been in the news for mostly the wrong reasons, ranging from a lack of independence to a lack of appointments to poor quality of appointments to illegal appointments to a lack of resources. He situates this within the larger issue of concentration of judicial power in the hands of the few judges staffing a relevant IP tribunal or court and its effect on developing IP jurisprudence. The obvious problem with such concentration of power is that the ideological proclivity of the Chairperson of the IPAB could define all IP jurisprudence emanating from the IPAB for a duration of three years. He discusses the case of former Chairperson Manmohan Singh, who was granted repeated extensions including after the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) appeared before court asking for extension of his tenure. Subsequently, in a first of its kind event relating to a specific judge, Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) filed an intervention before the Supreme Court opposing any further extensions to Manmohan Singh. IDMA’s victory in that case was followed by the scrapping of IPAB as a tribunal. Reflecting on the far reaching consequences of this historic course of events, Prashant concludes that a plurality of Indian judges generating diverse judicial opinion that will enrich IP jurisprudence in the best traditions of common law.

Other Developments

Decisions from Indian Courts

  • Madhya Pradesh High Court in M/s Mold Tek Packing Ltd. v. Sd Containers held that it has the jurisdiction to try the counter claim filed by the defendant for cancellation of registration of design under the Design Act, 2000 in a suit filed by the plaintiff for declaration and injunction in respect of the disputed designs [September 1, 2021] – [Varsha has written about the jurisdictional issues in this case here].
  • Delhi High Court entrance

    Delhi High Court in Victoria Foods Private Limited v. Rajdhani Masala Co. & Anr passed an interim injunction in favour of the plaintiff restraining the defendants and its associates from using in any manner the trademark RAJDHANI or any other trademark which is deceptively similar to the trademark of the plaintiff [September 1, 2021].

  • Delhi High Court in Dassault Systems v. Imperial Auto Industries Limited passed an ex-parte ad-interim injunction restraining the defendants and its associates from directly or indirectly copying, reproducing, storing, installing and/or using pirated/unlicensed software programs of Plaintiffs including CATIA, SOLIDWORKS and its various versions or any other software programs developed by the Plaintiffs in any manner that may amount to infringement of the Plaintiffs’ copyright subsisting in its software programs and software related documentation [August 31, 2021].
  • A Bangalore District Court in P Kanthilal v. Shetan Singh, passed a decree of permanent injunction restraining the defendant and his associates from infringing and passing off the plaintiff’s registered trademark PREETHI by using the identical and deceptively similar trademark PREETHI/RREETHI or any other identical or deceptively, confusingly similar trademark in relation to the goods for which the plaintiff’s trade mark PREETHI is registered namely pressure cookers and parts thereof, kitchenware, thermo ware, non-stick cook wares, all types of domestic utensils, water filters and parts, wick stoves [August 30, 2021].

Other News from around the Country

  • The Allahabad High Court has refused to grant a stay on the release of the film ‘Chehre’ starring Amitabh Bachchan in an appeal filed by Writer Uday Prakash alleging copyright infringement by Producer Anand Pandit and Director Rumi Jaffery.
  • The launch of TV Show ‘Baal Shiv’ has been postponed due to a copyright infringement suit filed against the makers of the show by writer and mythologist Chotenlal Saini in the Bombay High Court.
  • Bombay High Court

    The Bombay High Court has restrained Platinum Waltech Limited from selling its waterproofing product which infringes Pidilite Industries’ trademark of Dr Fixit LW and LW+, which is Pidilite’s range of waterproofing products.

  • The Madras High Court has declared Sellappapa, the wife of late singer Pulavar Keeran, as the sole owner of the copyright of her husband’s literary works.
  • WhatsApp has reportedly banned over 3 million Indian accounts on the messaging service in the 46 day period from 16 June to 31 July 2021, under the new Information Technology Rules, 2021.

News from around the World

  • A US court in Alexandria, Virginia has ruled that a computer using artificial intelligence cannot be recognized as an ‘inventor’ under US law, because only an individual can be an inventor.
  • Google is reportedly appealing against a EUR 500 million fine imposed on it by France’s antitrust watchdog in July over a dispute with local media about paying for news content.
  • China has threatened to tighten oversight of e-commerce companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Pinduoduo Inc., by restricting them from online business operations or even have their licenses revoked if they fail to deal with serious violations of IP rights by vendors on their platforms, according to a draft revision of the country’s e-commerce law posted by the State Administration for Market Regulation.
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