1. Lord of the Rings’ Crypto Blocked Under JRR Tolkien’s Trademark Violation

A Lord of the Rings trilogy-inspired cryptocurrency called the “JRR token” and launched by Florida-based developer Matthew Jensen was barred from operating by the Tolkein estate as a copyright infringement complaint was brought before the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The cryptocurrency’s website included references to the popular fantasy fiction series featuring rings, hobbit holes, and a Gandalf-like figure making available tokens for sale aiming to “organize the people towards a common goal of making JRR Token “The One Token That Rules Them All”.

 Registered in early 2021, the domain name jrrtoken.com was alleged to have been purposefully designed to mislead people into believing it had a legitimate commercial connection with the renowned author. However, it was the developer’s contention that it was a mere parody and was “not of any purported bad faith”. Due to lack of reasoning as to why the domain name was humorous, WIPO was directed to block the operations of the token.

2. New Zealand’s bid to trademark ‘Manuka Honey’ quashed in a victory for Australia

The UK’s intellectual property office has rejected New Zealand’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society’s government-backed bid to trademark the term ‘Manuka Honey’ in a victory for Australian beekeepers.

Known for its antibacterial properties, Manuka Honey comes from bees feeding on the pollen of Leptospermum scoparium plant native to both New Zealand and Australia. The Intellectual Property Office observed that the Mãori word ‘Manuka’ had entered the English language as a descriptive common usage word and didn’t lead to the perception about the honey’s exclusive origins in New Zealand. It was however noted that as per evidence available, the public perception in the UK about the term reflected the common understanding about the origins of the honey in both New Zealand and Australia. The Australian Manuka Honey Association lauded the decision as a “fair and right” outcome. 

3. Quidditch leagues change name over copyright and J.K. Rowling controversy

Organizers of the real-life broomstick sport patterned on the magical competition from the Harry Potter franchise – US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch – will both be changing the name of their sport, according to a report. This is to avoid copyright issues and distance themselves from the controversy surrounding series author J.K. Rowling.

Because the name “Quidditch” is trademarked by Warner Bros., which produced the Harry Potter films, the leagues have been unable to broadcast their matches and have been limited in sponsorship opportunities. Officials believe the name change will allow for better growth and opportunities. The leagues said they will choose the name through conversations with their attorneys and a series of surveys taken by volunteers, players, and stakeholders. The new name will be chosen by January 2022. 

4. Indigenous Tribe Slams Coachella for Trademark Suit Over New Year’s Eve Event

Coachella and its parent company Goldenvoice (which is owned by AEG) filed a lawsuit against Live Nation over the “Day One 22” event last week, claiming the original name (which was Coachella Day One 22) would confuse concertgoers. Coachella has won a temporary restraining order against Live Nation to stop it from selling tickets to or advertising an upcoming New Year’s Eve event under its original name. While the ruling will force some branding changes, it will not prevent the concert from going ahead as planned. 

The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians slammed Coachella for their suit. While Coachella and its parent company, Goldenvoice, didn’t sue Twenty-Nine Palms directly because of sovereign immunity, the tribe’s chairman saw it as a direct attack on the community. The event was claimed to have been named so due to the venue in which it was to take place and the chairman says they have rebranded the same even before the restraining order was awarded so that the festival could be celebrated without further hiccups.

5. Russia extends production of COVID-19 drug remdesivir without patent for a year

The Russian Government has extended approval for the production of Covid-19 drug remdesivir, in its generic form, to drugmaker Pharmasyntez, without patent regulations. The company had sought permission for the same as early as November 2020. 

The patent is originally held by Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) and in May 2021, a Russian Court rejected Gilead’s lawsuit that challenged Pharmasyntez’s decision to develop and market remdesivir. Though granted citing public benefit as a reason, this governmental decree however mentioned that Pharmasynbtez will have to pay compensation to the drug’s patent holder (amount not specified). The medicine will be manufactured and marketed under the name Remdeform.

6. Volkswagen Says Patent Suit by Taiwan’s Acer Is Unfounded

As a public reply to the considerably large allegation and suit filed by Acer against Volkswagen, the German automotive company has given its official reply.

Earlier in December, Acer had filed a suit in the U. S. state of Virginia alleging the Volkswagen had paid only licenses for 2G and 3G patents. As a consequence, it made all the mobile phone chips installed by Volkswagen in the past two years illegal. Volkswagen has however agreed to go through the suit and its allegations thoroughly before proceeding with it in court. At first glance, the company stated that the allegations and accusations made were unfounded.  

7. USPTO sued by Bacardi over renewal of Cuban ‘Havana CLub’ Trademark

Bacardi has taken the U.S Patent and Trademark Office to court for renewing the ‘Havana Club’ trademark of Cuba’s state-run Cubaexport, which is also used by Bacardi and thereby violates the trademark laws. The lawsuit is a continuation of the age-old battle between Bacardi and Cuba over the ‘Havana Club’ name. Bacardi claims that the Castro regime unlawfully seized the trademark along with the assets of the company Jose Arechabala SA in 1960. Bacardi started selling Havana Club rum in the U.S. in 1995 after buying the brand from JASA. Cuba’s state-run Cubaexport and French spirits company Pernod Ricard sell rum under the same name in other countries but are barred from selling it in the U.S. The ‘Havana Club’ trademark was first registered in the U.S. in 1976. The petitioners have said that Cubaexport wasn’t successful in getting a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for trademark renewal in 2006 and the trademark should have expired six months later. Instead, the OFAC gave it a license in 2016 and the registration was renewed. Bacardi hence claims that its application to register its “Havana Club” mark will likely be refused because of it.

8. Novartis granted interim injunction against Natco’s use of Revolade Patent 

Novartis has been granted an interlocutory injunction against Natco’s use of Eltrombopag Olamine (Revolade) by the Delhi High Court. The dispute was the dichotomy between deference to the validity of a granted patent vis-a-vis the challenge to its validity and consequently disregarding the exclusivity granted to it, in litigation. Presumption of validity – the former was placed at a higher pedestal at least at the interim stage. The court has looked past the existing statutory provisions (Section 10 read with Section 13(4) of the Indian Patents Act) which stated that there cannot be a presumption as to the validity of the patent. The court has expressly said that patents are granted after thorough application of mind by the patent offices and therefore the challenge to its validity must be a ‘credible one’ and not merely one which is ‘worthy of consideration’.

Image Sources: 

  1. PB Photography for Business Insider
  2. Benyamin Bohlouli on Unsplash
  3. John Loo on Flickr
  4. Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
  5. Acer by Tyrone Siu, Reuters 
  6. Remdesivir, Ulrich Perrey/Pool via REUTERS
  7. Alexandre Meneghini on Reuters
  8. Arnd Wiegmann on Reuters