SpicyIP Weekly Review (September 6 – 12)

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Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Traditional Knowledge: Idealistic Expectations or Unworkable Ideas?

Continuing our series of posts on the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report, I wrote about the recommendations on IPR and traditional knowledge. I covered the recommendations of the Report which includes reforming Section 3(p) of the Patents Act to incentivize TK-based innovation, creating a proper documentation mechanism to prevent misappropriation of TK, and registration of traditional knowledge as GIs. Analysing these recommendations, I note that they represent a shifting focus from defensive protection to positive protection and how this overemphasizes the propertization of traditional knowledge. Next, I note the issues with trying to tailor TK to fit into the modern IP regime and how this overlooks the cultural significance a community attaches to such knowledge, which brings up the important question of cultural privacy. In conclusion, it is noted that the Report provides very uncritical suggestions which lack adequate justification and does not arrive at viable solutions to prevent the exploitation of traditional knowledge.

High-Level Dialogue—TRIPS Waiver: Challenges & Opportunities? [September 13]

We informed our readers about a high-level dialogue to discuss the challenges and opportunities concerning the TRIPS Waiver that is being organised on 13th September 2021. The panellists include intellectual property experts, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a member of the European Parliament, and a US Congressman. Further details about the event and the link to register for it can be found here.

Decisions from Indian Courts

  • The Delhi High Court in Living Media India Limited v. http://www.news-aajtak.co.in extended the application of an interim injunction and included more parties to the list of infringers in an order that directed Google and Facebook to suspend the domain names and web platforms of certain websites for infringing the “Aaj Tak” trademark. [September 6, 2021]
  • The Calcutta High Court in Salt Lake Society for Hotel Management v. Gazi Murshidul Arefin passed an interim order on the maintainability of a suit regarding a matter concerning the mark ‘IIHM’ and the domain name iihmkolkata.com attached to the same mark. The plaintiff, running the International Institute of Hotel Management had filed a petition against the defendant, running the Indian Institute of Hotel Management stating that the defendant’s use of the mark ‘IIHM’ and the above-mentioned domain name infringed their registered trademark and amounted to passing off. The Court noted that prima facie the actions of the defendants appeared to pass off their services as that of the plaintiff’s and hence there exists a cause of action for the suit to be maintained. [September 3, 2021]

News from India

  • It is reported that the Supreme Court has remanded a Madras High Court order concerning Geographical Indication (GI) tag to basmati rice grown in Madhya Pradesh (MP). The MP government had approached the Madras HC contesting the grant of a GI certificate by the IPAB to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for basmati rice, claiming that regions of MP also produced the rice. The Madras HC had refused to quash the grant. Presently, the Supreme Court has directed the High Court to take up the matter for fresh consideration.
  • In a trade and economic ministers meet of BRICS countries, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal emphasized the need for an early outcome of the TRIPS Waiver proposal for vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
  • An article on Scroll.in explains and fact checks the claim made by the Commerce and Industry Ministry regarding the number of trademark applications filed in the country. The Ministry had claimed that 14.2 lakh trademarks were registered between 2016 to 2020 as compared to the 11 lakh trademark registrations between 1940 to 2015. The article looks at the number of registrations, the process of registration, and reasons for the hike in the numbers.

Other News from Around the World

  • A lawsuit has been filed in the District Court for the Western District of Texas by RFCyber Corp against Apple.Inc for alleged patent infringement concerning a method of enabling secure contactless payment with a portable device, a mechanism used in the Apple Pay System.
  • An article in Nature discusses the gender gap in the filing of patents in the United States. The article notes that, of more than 4,00,000 biomedical patents filed in the US between 1976 and 2010, as of 2010 only 16.2% of patents were generated by research teams consisting mostly of women.
  • The USTPO presented a report to the US Congress analyzing infringement disputes between patent and trademark rights holders and states and state entities. The report was presented to study the “extent to which patent and trademark owners experience infringement of their IP by states and state entities without adequate remedies under state law and the extent to which such infringement may be intentional and reckless.”

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