1. Co-branding deal gone sour: Lululemon sues Peloton for “copy-cat” athleisure line

Multinational athletic apparel retailer Lululemon has filed a lawsuit against fitness company Peloton alleging patent infringement over the designs of the latest line of leggings and sports bras. In the complaint filed before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Peloton has been accused of trade dress infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition.

The two companies had reached a co-branding deal in 2016 wherein Peloton was allowed to put its logo alongside Lululemon’s on several Lululemon products sold through Peloton’s retail outfits. However, Peloton ended the partnership arrangement and later, introduced its own private label brand of fitness apparel. Lululemon has claimed that Peloton’s latest line of athleisure are “copy-cat” versions of its most popular products. A cease-and-desist letter to “immediately stop selling its copy-cat product” was sent to Peloton and Lululemon now seeks an injunction against Peloton as well as a jury trial, damages and other monetary relief. 

2. Sun Pharma agrees to settle patent lawsuit against Biofrontera Group

Dusa Pharmaceuticals Inc, the U.S. subsidiary of multinational pharmaceutical giant Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Has agreed to settle its patent infringement lawsuit against Biofrontera group. In its 2018 complaint before the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, Dusa Pharmaceuticals had alleged patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation and wrongful interference against entities of the Biofrontera group. The suit pertained to its patents covering topical solution product Levulan Kerastick used for photodynamic therapy used in treatment of certain disease conditions like actinic keratoses. Dusa also alleged Biofrontera of improperly obtaining confidential information from former Dusa employees to market Biofrontera’s own products. In the latest exchange filing, Sun Pharma has decided to settle the lawsuit and Dusa will receive a compensation of $22.5 million (Rs 168.9 crore). 

3. PepsiCo’s patent for Lay’s Potatoes Revoked by India

According to an order issued on 3rd December 2021 by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFR), India has revoked PepsiCo Inc’s patent for a potato variety (FC5 potato variety) grown exclusively for their Lay’s potato chips. PepsiCo set up its first potato chip plant in India in 1989 and claims that it developed the FC5 variety of potato and registered the trait in 2016. It supplies the FC5 seed variety to a group of farmers who, in turn, sell their produce to the company at a fixed price.

PepsiCo in 2019 sued some Gujarat-based farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, which requires a lower moisture content to make snacks such as potato chips. However, the same year, it withdrew the lawsuit claiming to want to settle the matter amicably. Later, PepsiCo was taken to court by Kavitha Kuruganti, a farmers’ rights activist who contended that India’s rules do not allow a patent on seed varieties and hence pleaded for the revocation of intellectual protection granted to PepsiCo’s FC5 potato variety. The PPVFR agreed with this contention and delivered the judgement in favour of the farmers.

4. Criag Wright the right Nakamoto? Miami Jury rules in favour

The Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, who claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin, won a civil trial against the family of his deceased partner, David Kleinman. Kleiman’s family accused Wright of defrauding (Late) David Kleiman of 1.1 million mined Bitcoins and intellectual property rights, adding that Kleiman and Wright were friends and collaborated on Bitcoin’s creation. Wright claims to be the sole founder of Bitcoin and told the court that while he and Kleiman collaborated on work together, their partnership had nothing to do with Bitcoin’s creation. Wright implied in a 2016 blog post that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed bitcoin. The Miami jury found that Wright did not owe any (1.1 million) Bitcoins to the family of Kleiman. However, Wright was ordered to pay $100 million in compensatory damages over a breach in intellectual property rights related to W&K Info Defense Research LLC, a joint venture between Klein and Wright.

5. Taylor Swift to face trial in Shake It Off copyright case

Taylor Swift must face a jury trial over accusations that she copied lyrics for Shake It Off from another song from girl-group 3LW’s 2001 song, Playas Gon’ Play. The impugned lyrics “haters gonna hate” and “players gonna play” were previously ruled at the District Court to have been too banal to entertain a copyright claim and cited 13 earlier songs that featured similar phrases. The opposing party appealed and the federal court overturned the ruling, sending the case back to the District Court. 

There, it was noted that there were also significant similarities in word usage, sequence, and structure encouraging the case to go to jury trial. A trial date has not yet been announced.

6. Patents, Trademarks to be Issued Digitally in 2022, PTO Says

The Acting Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Organization (PTO), Drew Hirshfeld, announced in a blog that the PTO will be issuing patents and trademarks digitally, starting in 2022.

Drew Hirshfeld envisions that the new process for patent applications will result in reducing the pendency of every issued patent application by approximately two weeks. For trademarks, this new electronic process hopes to benefit owners by providing a more accessible and timely registration certificate. Once the transition to the digital mode is complete, for customers who wish to continue to receive paper “presentation copies” of issued patents and trademark registration certificates with an embossed gold seal and a Director’s signature, that option will still be available for a fee.  

The office is seeking public feedback on the office’s proposal to revise the rules of practice to issue patents electronically. 

7. Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules; Suggestions Invited By Dec 1

The Delhi High Court published the final draft of the ‘High Court of Delhi Rules Governing Patent Suits, 2021’, and ‘Delhi High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2021’.

These are a set of 41 Rules that includes a wide range of legal specifics – such as: definitions, procedures for appeal, third party intervention etc. 

The release comes following the Court’s proposal last week to establish an Intellectual Property Division (IPD). Recommended by constituted by Chief Justice DN Patel and composed of Justice Prathiba M. Singh and Justice Sanjeev Narula, the IPD will deal with original proceedings, Writ Petitions (Civil), CMM, RFA, FAO on Intellectual Property Rights disputes (except those enlisted for division benches).

8. Centre accepts plea, grants Mithila Makhana GI tag

Putting an end to the Mithila region’s fox nut (makhana) controversy, Bihar Makhana has been renamed Mithila Makhana by the Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) with recommendations on possible amendments to their brand logo.

The history of the makhana is as follows: On behalf of a Purnia based fox nut growers’ association by the name Mithilanchala Makhana Utpadak Sangh (MMUS), Bihar Agricultural University (BAU) filed a GI application. This directly led to protests from the Mithila region which is home to this specific type of aquatic fox nut and also associates it closely with its culture. 

BAU thereafter, considering the social, historical and cultural factors involved, amended the application and requested a change of name from Bihar makhana to its present name as approved by the GIR. 

Image Sources

  1. Jeenah Moon for NYT
  2. Kanishka Sonthalia for Bloomberg
  3. Amit Dave on Reuters 
  4. André François McKenzie on Unsplash  
  5. Cosmopolitan UK on Wikimedia Commons
  6. Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash
  7.  Delhi HC, by High Court of Delhi
  8. Mithali Makhana by Hindustan Times