1) India climbs 35 ranks in Global Innovation Index but lags in patents: Economic Survey

India has ranked high in the Global Innovation Index – at position 46. This is a huge leap from the previous position of 81 in 2015-16. This reflects a remarkable progress in the number of startups in IT/knowledge-based sectors where intellectual property, specifically patents, are integral concerns.

India lags, however, in the number of patents granted; it is still a fraction of more developed countries such as China, US and Japan as per the Economic Survey 2021-22. The stated reason for the low number of patent registrations is India’s low expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) – which was at 7%. Procedural delays,  systemic complexities and lags etc further affect the pendency, and ultimately reflect in such low numbers. Another significant reason stated is the low number of patent examiners in India – which delays the First Examination Report (FER), thereby delaying the entire patent process.

2) FIR against Sundar Pichai, five others over ‘copyright violation’

An FIR, under Sections 51, 63, and 69 of the Copyright Infringement Act, 1957, has been filed against California-based, American, multinational tech company – Google’s CEO – Sundar Pichai.

Director and Producer, Suneel Darshan has registered this FIR against Pichai and five others at the MIDC police station, Mumbai, following a court order. The case concerns a case of copyright infringement. The 2017 movie Ek Haseena thi, Ek Dheewana tha” for which Darshan owned the copyrights was uploaded on Youtube – a video streaming service owned by Google. 

Though he was the rightful owner of the same, Darshan is aggrieved by the fact that people were illegally uploading the film on Google’s platform and earning money. He alleges that the same was raised with Youtube, but he received no resolve.

3) Disney Loses Rights To Scrat From Ice Age Following Trademark Dispute

“Scrat”, the squirrel from the franchise “Ice-Age” has been a fan-favourite since the movie was released in 2002. While many have claimed ownership by having created the character, Ivy Silberstein’s claims were the strongest. Silberstein sued Twentieth Century Fox for copyright in the year 2002. 

The ruling in 2003 held that both Twentieth Century Fox and Silberstein had equal rights over the character. Silberstein wanted to claim full ownership and continued the legal battle till 2022 when Blue Sky, the studio behind the movie, backed down.

The sabre-toothed squirrel’s copyright no longer lies with Disney, who bought Twentieth Century Fox in 2019. This means that the character will not make an appearance in any of the future installments in the Ice-Age franchise.

4) Meta goes to Brazil to trademark Bitcoin and crypto services 

Meta, recently rebranded from Facebook, has filed a trademark application with the Brazilian authorities to facilitate its goal to design, develop and provide for crypto-related services including but not limited to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin.

The company has kept its position as the largest social media platform and has faced many regulatory setbacks in its previous attempts to enter the crypto market. It is to further this effort that Meta filed a trademark registration with the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) for crypto products and services. Meta published the application for registration on January 25 and is currently awaiting opposition prior to INPI approval.

5) Apple Defeats Copyright Lawsuit Over Racially Diverse Emoji

A 2020 lawsuit filed by Cub Club Investment LLC (CCI) against Apple Inc. has been dismissed by a California federal judge. CCI, which claims to be the world’s first diverse emoji brand, alleged in the suit that Apple’s ethnically diverse emoji characters infringe the copyright of CCI. It said that CCI’s founder Katrina Parrott created “iDiversicons”, the world’s first emoji with diverse skin tones in 2013 and a year later pitched her idea for a partnership with Apple. Apple went on to launch its own set of multiracial emojis after declining to work with her. US District Judge Vince Chhabria while dismissing the suit said that “even assuming the allegations in the complaint are true, the idea is all that Apple copied.” Ideas cannot be protected by copyright, only the implementation/expression of those ideas are given protection. Apple’s emojis weren’t similar enough to infringe Cub Club’s weak copyrights in the unique expressive aspects of its designs, Chhabria added.

6) Australia Obtains Copyright To Aboriginal Flag, Making It Free To Use

The Australian Government has announced the purchase of copyright in the Australian Aboriginal Flag. Harold Thomas an Australian indigenous artist created the flag design in 1971 for the Aboriginal land rights movement. The design quickly grew to become a symbol for Aboriginal people in Australia. The design was granted status as a “Flag of Australia” by proclamation of the Keating Government in 1995 and thereby officially recognized and protected as a national flag under the Flags Act 1953. despite its recognition as a national flag of Australia, Thomas’s copyright in the Australian Aboriginal Flag as an original artistic work was upheld by the Federal Court of Australia in the 1997 decision of Thomas v Brown (1997) 37 IPR 207 and several subsequent decisions. The government has reportedly paid $20.05 million to Thomas and to extinguish licenses held by a small number of companies which have stirred controversy since 2018 by demanding payment for the flag’s reproduction. The Commonwealth now holds the copyright to the flag and all Australians can now freely display & use the Aboriginal Flag to celebrate Indigenous culture.

7) Case Filed against China at WTO over protection of telecom patents

On behalf of its 27 members, the European Union (EU) brought a case against China at the World Trade Organization against China restricting European companies to protect their standard-essential patents for telecom technology at a foreign court.

In order to meet international standards, mobile phone manufacturers are required to obtain licenses for these patents. It has been brought by the EU that these patent holders face large fines (130,000 euros a day) and their ability to agree license fees at market rates with Chinese mobile phone makers is undermined if they approach courts outside China. The EU alleges that since August 2020, the Chinese courts have been issuing “anti-suit injunctions” preventing EU companies from seeking recourse in foreign courts.

This has been argued to violate WTO’s agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS).

8) Three-member arbitral tribunal to adjudicate on the “Hero” trademark dispute

The dispute between Vijay Munjal, Hero Electric Vehicles Pvt. Ltd. and Pawan Munjal, Hero MotoCorp Ltd. over the use of the ‘Hero’ trademark has been referred by the Delhi High Court to a three-member arbitral tribunal.

The petitioners, Vijay Munjal of Hero Electric Vehicles had claimed to disallow the respondents Pawan Munjal of Hero MotoCorp from using the trademark “Hero” or any of its variants in respect to electric vehicles. It was contended that the respondents were in violation of the terms of the Family Settlement Agreement and the Trade Marks and Name Agreement as they intend to now conduct business in the area of electric/eco-friendly vehicles under the brand or trademark “Hero”. The petition was opposed by the respondents on the grounds that the dispute is not arbitrable, is barred by limitation and that the petitioners have acquiesced to their use of the trademark “Hero”.  

Now, a three-member arbitral tribunal including the former Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Mishra, former Supreme Court judge Justice Indu Malhotra, and former Delhi High Court judge Justice Indermeet Kaur would adjudicate this dispute between the Munjals over the usage of the trademark. 

Images:

1) Wipo website 

2) Wikimedia Commons

3) Leo Reynolds on Flickr

4) Kanchanara on Unsplash

5) Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash

6) Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay 

7) ANI

8) Business Standard