As per reports, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is mounting to seriously consider the India – South Africa proposal for the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on COVID-19 vaccines. If India, who is spearheading the move, succeeds in getting the proposed waiver, it will reduce the cost of vaccines substantially and enable free flow of medicines, easy technology transfer across the world. Despite opposition by several western countries, the waiver is considered to be a ‘game changer’ and recently received support by a group of least developed countries (LDC). Upon acceptance, the waiver is said to enable greater access to affordable COVID-19 health technologies, including vaccines, in particular for developing and middle-income countries. However, according to media reports, “In a declaration to the European Commission and European Council, a cross-party group of 115 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have urged the European Commission and the European Council to drop their opposition on the TRIPS waiver proposal at the WTO.”
Recently, Senior surgeon Dr. Devendra Sortey and gynaecologist Dr Kanchan Sortey from Nagpur were granted a patent for a device and process of making 3D mesh prosthesis for hernia repair surgery. The specially designed mesh which has been in usage for around 17 years is said to support damaged tissues around the hernias and has repaired the condition for more than a thousand patients with no complications. A new model of the mesh named 3 Dimensional Mesh Prosthesis was designed in 2003 in order to bring down the general 10% failure rate to zero. Dr Sortey on receiving the patent is now in communication with several companies on the start of mass production of the device in order to help patients across the country.
The Federal Circuit found that the Navy had broken the terms of an implied agreement when it installed Bitmanagement’s software across a computer network without tracking the number of users. Bitmanagement sells BS Contact Geo software, which enables the visualisation of geographic data. The Navy had purchased 20 licences for the software in 2012 in order to test demand. In 2016, Bitmanagement sued the Navy for copyright infringement, arguing that the Navy’s rollout of the software across the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) computer network violated their agreement, which only allowed for a set number of users. The Navy initially won the case at the US Court of Federal Claims, which found that there was an implied agreement between the parties for the Navy to install the software on the network. The Federal Circuit upheld that part of the Federal Claims Court’s ruling, but ruled the Navy was still liable as the implied agreement obligated it to track the number of people using BS Contact Geo.
The US Olympic Committee (USOPC) filed a complaint with the US District Court of Colorado, claiming that Puma is causing confusion among consumers surrounding sponsorship for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. In March 2020, Puma filed a trademark application (US number 88/846/322) for the mark ‘Puma Tokyo 2021’, which covered apparel, athletic equipment, and bags. Upon learning about this, the USOPC contacted Puma asking the company to withdraw its application but Puma refused. It later filed several other trademarks including ‘Puma Beijing 2022’ and ‘Puma Tokyo 2022’ and also initiated trademark cancellations against USPOC trademarks. The USOPC has requested that the use of infringing marks be prohibited, that Puma’s cancellation proceedings be terminated, and that the court upholds its Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 trademarks. Puma has applied for similar marks relating to key postponed sporting events. In April last year, Puma applied for the mark ‘Puma Euro 2021’ following the postponement of the Euro 2020 football championship.
The justices of the US Supreme Court will consider a challenge to a congressionally created board that has been also called the “death squad” because they tend to toss out patents. The argument lies at the intersection of intellectual property and separation of powers. The court will consider whether or not to declare unconstitutional, a system that technology companies of the likes of Apple Inc. and Google Inc have used in the process of invalidation and heading off litigation. Since it has started in the year 2012, the PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) has invalidated over 2000 patents. Apple alone has fought off around 200 patents successfully. The PTAB was set up in 2011 by the Congress as an alternative and quicker method compared to litigation.
In the FY18-FY20, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are in the top 53,399 patent applications. In the years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, there were 53,399 patents filed from india. 52 percent of the applications which will be around 27,934 applications were from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. With over 12,000 applications Maharashtra has topped in the number of patent applications. Less than 1000 patents have been filed by Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesha and Odisha each. Whereas, Chhattisgarh and Bihar have only filed above 160 applications each. The least patents applied was by the North Eastern states.
The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointed out that, if the whole planet wants practical solutions to stop this disease, we must think about the exemption of intellectual property. Recently, India and South Africa made a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a provision of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 Vaccines. With this step, costs would be reduced, there would be a free flow of medicines, knowledge transfer and technology around the world. The idea, publicly endorsed by 90 countries, is aimed at developing and middle-income nations, but it does not yet have the support of the European Union and remains under study by the WTO. Adhanom called on the most advanced countries to reduce or avoid unilateral agreements for the purchase of vaccines with pharmaceutical companies, especially those within the COVAX program of distribution of doses around the world. “I understand that governments have an obligation to protect their own, but the best way to do that is to suppress the coronavirus at the same time everywhere,” he said.
OnePlus is finally set to enter the smartwatch market with its first product launching this year. According to the design patents registered on the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO), the OnePlus Watch could come in a sports version with a silicone strap for those who work out a lot. The second strap option could be made out of leather with a clasp at the end to secure it on the wrist. It is also noteworthy that both the straps come with a quick-release mechanism so swapping them should be not very difficult. Both models also seem to have two buttons on the side and of course sensors at the bottom (heart rate, blood pressure) including some pins for charging. As of now, there is no confirmation whether OnePlus will be using Google’s Wear OS for its upcoming smartwatch. This could be a bit of concern as it limits the support for third-party apps unless OnePlus has already thought this through, reports indicate.