1) Paramount sued over right to create a Breakfast at Tiffany’s Sequel

In a recent development, American film production company Paramount’s right to create a prequel, sequel, or a television series to the revered classic ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ has been questioned before the Los Angeles Superior Court. The 1961 film was based on Truman Capote’s 1958 novella by the same name. The plaintiff is the Capote Charitable Estate, set up a few years before Capote’s death. In 1991, Paramount and the Capote Estate had entered into an agreement whereby Paramount had optioned certain sequel and prequel rights, among others, with respect to the film. The agreement provided that if a motion picture was not produced within the specified time limit of 28-years, the rights would revert back to plaintiff. Now, the trustee of a charitable trust, Alan Schwartz has alleged in the complaint that rights to the property reverted to Capote’s Executor upon his death in 1984 and then was transferred to the charity. Thus, the suit filed will determine whether Paramount has an unfettered right to produce a new film about the property. 

2) The Weeknd escapes copyright lawsuit over ‘A Lonely Night’

A three-judge panel for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in its recent judgement held that The Weeknd didn’t plagiarise the appellants’ unreleased song. In 2019, British songwriters Clover, McCulloch and Billy Smith had sued the Weeknd in the Los Angeles federal court saying that parts of the song ‘A Lonely Night’ were “practically identical” to their unreleased song called ‘I Need to Love’. It was alleged that one of The Weeknd’s producers had access to their composition through his label Universal Music, which once owned rights to it. The court had held for The Weeknd observing no infringement. The appellants reiterated their arguments in the appeal alleging that The Weeknd could have heard their song through Universal Music’s song catalogue. However, the federal appeals court observed that appellants had failed to concretely prove that the musician had access to their composition and noted absence of any resemblance between the two songs. 

3) The return of Google News to Spain 

In 2014, the Spanish government passed a law obliging Google and other news aggregators to pay a central licence fee to Spanish news organisations for re-using their stories. After a hiatus of seven years, google news is all set to return to the Spanish market. Spain has adopted a European Union copyright directive that allows third-party online news platforms to negotiate directly with content providers. This directive means that individual publications have the power to individually negotiate with Google or whether or not they want to charge Google news and other such news aggregators to include their stories.

The European Copyright Directive, which must be adopted by all member states, grants a so-called “neighbouring right” to press publishers. This neighbouring right entitles publishers to be paid when extracts of their content are re-published by online services like Google News.

4) Advertise but not at the expense of the trademark owner: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has said that even though advertisement is part of “free speech” it cannot be at the cost of trademark of an owner as it amounts to a misleading act. It observed that Google cannot absolve itself from the liability of ensuring that a keyword is not an infringement of trademark while hearing an application seeking ad interim ex parte injunction filed against Google India, Google LLC and Just Dial by the plaintiff AGARWAL PACKERS & MOVES or DRS LOGISTICS. The plaintiffs argued that despite having decrees in its favour against third parties, Google did not stop the use of infringing advertisements on their platforms. Google argued that a keyword provided by the advertiser is treated just as a backend trigger for an Ad to be displayed and is never used in a trademark sense. The court while ruling in favour of the plaintiffs also observed that “…it is clear from Google’s EU and EFTA policy that Google provides a higher duty of care in a jurisdiction where large portions of the population are internet literate. This aspect further fortifies my finding as to why such a policy should be followed in India,”

5) No HC relief for Tata’s on use of their trademark as crypto coin

Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Groups, headquartered in Mumbai, was unsuccessful in obtaining a permanent injunction against Hakunamatata Tata Founders for an alleged trademark infringement. 

The latter company, through its tatabonus.com and hakunamatata.com, came up with crypto-currencies bearing the name Tata in the months of May and June 2021. A trademark infringement case was filed by the Tata Sons subsequently, in the Delhi High Court. The court adjudged that as the defendants were companies based in the UK and the US, they were outside the statutory scope of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. For the same reason, the plaintiff had to prove an intention to target India as a customer base. However, due to the lack of any such intention, the case was dismissed in favour of the defendants with no injunction order passed.  

6) Meta trademark booked, Facebook may have to pay $20 million for the name

A few days ago, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of California based conglomerate – Facebook announced that their brand was being renamed, “Meta”. However, there lies a hurdle ahead of their rebranding – an Arizona based technology firm, “Meta PC” had already filed a trademark application for the same name a couple of months prior to Facebook. 

Joe Darger and Zack Shutt, the founders of the said firm have expressed willingness to give up their claim over the name for a consideration of $20 million. This sum, according to sources, will be directed towards the expenses in rebranding their company and products. Considering the scale of their public announcement, it seems likely that Facebook will take up this deal with Meta PCs. 

7. There can’t be copyright on an idea, it can be confidential: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court while refusing to stay the release of a Marathi film titled ‘Zombivali’ observed that an idea cannot be copyrighted although it can be considered confidential. The plea was made by a small-time writer against Saregama India Ltd., a music label owned by the RP- Sanjiv Goenka Group of companies. The film-makers, however, contended that they didn’t steal the writer’s story idea and had in fact made their film based on another writer’s script. The plea was dismissed while identifying overlaps and distinguishing the areas of breach of confidentiality and copyright infringement.

8. China Issues Draft Administrative Measures Allowing Foreign Patent Agencies to Open Representative Offices

In October 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued draft measures for administration related to the Establishment of Permanent Representative Offices in China by Foreign Patent Agencies.  These draft Measures allow foreign patent agencies to open up representative offices in China.  However, unlike trademark agencies opened by many foreign firms, patent representative offices will not be allowed to prosecute Chinese patent applications. Certain conditions for these Representative Offices have been outlined in these draft Measures. Comments for the draft were left open till November 5th.

Image Sources 

1) Wikimedia Commons

2) Kayla Johnson on Wikimedia Commons

3) Dado Ruvic on Reuters

4) launchpresso on Pixabay 

5) Tata Group, by Selbst Erstellt

6) Logo of Meta Platforms, Inc. by Meta, Inc. 

7) Markus Winkler on Unsplash

8) Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels