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1. India, South Africa call for waiver of IP, patents under certain TRIPS provisions for COVID-19 therapeutics

South Africa and India have asked the World Trade Organization to waive some provisions in the international agreements that regulate intellectual property rights, to speed up efforts to prevent, treat and contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and make sure developing countries are not left behind. The countries argue, in a joint submission to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, that without a rapid waiver of some existing safeguards for intellectual property rights, some countries – particularly developing ones that have been “disproportionately impacted” – would find it hard to access vaccines or medicines quickly. Drug companies have said they need to protect their intellectual property to fund their expensive research. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has supported a COVID-19 technology access pool where IP and data can be shared voluntarily.

2. Can “unbranded” goods sold by a shop claiming Trademark be viewed as “branded” for tax purposes? Madras HC to decide

Chocko Choza, a bakery selling premium confectioneries, is the latest to weigh in on the question of whether a dish sold by a popular food chain can be viewed as branded. They joined suits challenging the State tax authority’s interpretation of “branded” goods under Section 2 (9) of the Tamil Nadu Value Added Tax Act, 2006 (Choco Choza v. Sales Tax Officer). Pertinently, dealers of unbranded food or drink are subject to levy of a lesser tax rate, 5% as per Section 7 (1) (b) of the Tamil Nadu VAT Act. However, while assessing the tax liabilities of Chocko Choza in respect of its baked goods sold without any independent registered brand or mark, the assessing officer is stated to have treated such goods as “branded goods.” Therefore, Chocko Choza was not allowed to avail the tax benefit for unbranded items when it came to the sale of their goods.

3. USPTO releases report on artificial intelligence and Intellectual Property Rights policy

The United States Patent and Trademark Office released a report titled “Public Views on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy.” taking a look at the stakeholder views on the impact of AI across the IP landscape and developing issues about database protection. 

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu said, “The USPTO has long been committed to ensuring our nation maintains its leadership in all areas of innovation, especially in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence,” 

The USPTO solicited public input through two formal Requests for Comments published in the Federal Register which received approximately 200 unique comments from a range of experts in foreign patent offices, bar associations, trade associations, academia, law firms, etc.

4. India and Denmark sign a MoU on intellectual Property cooperation

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade signed the MoU with the Danish Patent and Trademark Office to further the objectives of the National IPR Policy and become a major player in global innovation

An official communique said “….will draw up Biennial Work Plan to implement the MoU which will include the detailed planning for carrying out of the cooperation activities, including the scope of action,”

“…. will go a long way in fostering the cooperation between India and Denmark, and provide opportunities to both countries to learn from the experience of each other, especially in terms of best practices followed in the other country. It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and further the objectives of National IPR Policy, 2016,” it added.

5. Intellectual Property Appellate Board stays cancellation of Novartis patent for anti – cancer drug

Recently, The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has ordered a stay on the cancellation of the Swiss drugmaker, Novartis’ patent over Ceritinib, its anti – cancer drug while observing that there were oversights with respect to examining genus and species patents and several procedural lapses while cancelling the patent.

 The order of cancellation was passed by the Delhi High Court in March 2019. It held

“A perusal of the said order passed by the Controller shows that, after examining the matter, it has been held that the suit patent lacks Novelty and the patent has thereafter been revoked. Once a patent is revoked, a suit for infringement of the patent itself would not be maintainable.”

The order is said to have a significant implication on the current patent battle that Novartis is fighting with Natco Pharma who is currently engaged in the manufacture of generic Ceritinib.

6. Facebook introduces Rights Manager for images to protect Intellectual Property

Social media giant Facebook has introduced a new tool which will help creators protect their online photos by employing technology that will scan similar content on Instagram and Facebook, thereby enabling creators to manage their intellectual property.

The tool is being rolled out under Facebook’s Creator Studio platform. It can be accessed by submitting an application to the Company. The technology can be used to monitor, block or attribute credit via an ownership link to matching images of the owner on the website.

Dave Axelgard, Product Manager at Facebook said,

“We want to ensure Facebook is a safe and valuable place for creators to share their content.”

7. California Court’s Finding of Fair Use for Nicki Minaj Affirms Public Benefit of Artistic Experimentation

Earlier this month, Onikya Tanya Maraj, who performs under the stage name Nicki Minaj was granted a partial summary judgement in her favour, resolving a copyright infringement dispute filed by singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman over Minaj’s unauthorized use of Chapman’s 1988 single “Baby Can I Hold You.” The ruling by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips affirmed the importance of artistic experimentation as a common practice within the recording industry that provides a public benefit. Minaj’s exclusion of the work from her album led Judge Phillips to find that her use was not purely commercial. The type of artistic experimentation in which Minaj engaged to produce the derivative of Chapman’s single was considered a customary practice because rights holders often request copies of new works during licensing discussions and prospective licensees usually include their proposed derivative works with their initial licensing requests. Judge Philips also found that “a ruling uprooting these common practices (of artistic experimentation prior to licensing) would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry, which would be contrary to the primary goal of the Copyright Laws, ie. to promote art for the public good.”

8. PS5 Trademark Is Not Secured By Sony In India: How One Guy In India Is Holding Back The PS5 Launch

Japanese console giant Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation 5 that was stipulated to be released in India by mid-November has come to a halt owing to an issue with its trademark. As reported by the Mako Reactor, the trademark for the PS5 is currently held by Hitesh Aswani from New Delhi, who had filed for trademark of his software in October 2019. The trademark document in which he wanted granted the same under Class 28 is a public document and can be accessed here. Sony Entertainments, however, had only applied for the trademark of its software in February, 2020. The trademark softwares of both the parties have been labelled as adverse, owing to their similarity and non-distinctiveness as per reports. The current situation is said to push the launch date for PS5 in India further, to even 2021.

Image Sources:

1. Marco Verch on flickr.
2. Yoga Balaji on Wikipedia
3. Kevin Ku on Unsplash
4. Edited image, original from Markus Winkler and Naveed Ahmed on Unsplash
5. Ilja Hendel 
6. Stock Catalog on flickr
7. rocor on flickr
8. Edited image, original from Sony Interactive Entertainment on Wikimedia Commons