1. Fast-food chain Subway drags taxman to court over GST on intellectual property rights    

American fast-food chain, Subway, has filed writ petition in the High Court of Haryana and Punjab over allegedly forcing it to pay differential Goods and Services Tax (GST) on services before issuing any notices. The dispute emanates from the controversy over the taxability of intellectual property rights and royalty. Subway has been asked to submit all facts and has been given appropriate time to present their case before forcing it to pay differential GST on Intellectual Property Rights. However, speculations from legal experts say that this would mean that tax authorities will not be able to make any recovery till the matter is adjudicated.

2. upGrad Files Trademark Infringement Suit Against Scaler, Gets Interim Relief From Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court granted an ad-interim injunction in favour of upGrad, a leading edtech company, who had filed a suit for trademark infringement against Scaler. Scaler, also in the edtech field, has allegedly used its brand name ‘upGrad’ through Google Ads. The submissions from upGrad include that Scaler used its brand name to appear on top of search results on Google search engine and in turn gained illicit benefit. upGrad has also sought damages of over Rs. 3 Cr.

The court, while granting the injunction, also directed Scalar not to bid on any of upGrad’s registered trademarks or its variants on Google Ads Programs or any other program of the same nature until further notice.

3. Art Wars- Stormtroopers NFTs to test IP Law in the Metaverse

British curator Ben Moore is being accused of NFT theft as he put his photographs of Stormtrooper helmets from a project called ‘Art Wars’ created by more than 300 artists on the trading platform OpenSea for sale for cryptocurrency as NFTs. These artists include Sir Anish Kapoor and David Bailey whose work was photographed and turned into non-fungible tokens without their consent. 1,138 NFTs were created which have resulted in 1.6ETH of transactions since their launch.

Upon a copyright infringement notice, OpenSea shut down the Art Wars page to prevent further trading. 12 artists are considering taking legal action complaining that Moore doesn’t own the original artworks and doesn’t have the license to create NFTs or other derivatives from them. It is also alleged that no attempt was made to seek the artists’ permission.

This dispute brings forward the debate around ownership of NFTs. Digital versions of artwork are sold without the original owners’ permission which invites an intellectual property conflict. 

4. WHO and MPP announce non-exclusive license for COVID-19 technology

The first transparent, global, non-exclusive licence for a COVID-19 health tool has been finalised. WHO’S COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) have signed a licensing agreement with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) for a COVID-19 serological antibody technology.

The license aims to enable rapid manufacture and commercialisation of CSIC’s COVID-19 serological test globally. All related patents and necessary biological materials for manufacture of the test are covered under the agreement. CSIC will provide all the technical know-how and training to MPP and other prospective licensees. This licence will be royalty-free for low- and middle-income countries and will remain valid until the date the last patent expires. 

5. Singer Katy Perry tried to ‘snuff out’ Katie Perry fashion business in trademark battle, court told

The Australian Federal Court has noted that the American pop-star Katy Perry tried to “snuff out” the nascent business of the Australian fashion designer Katie Jane Taylor using her “financial might” in an ongoing trademark battle between the two.

Katie Jane Taylor registered a trademark in 2008 under her maiden name Katie Perry for selling clothes. She launched Federal Court proceedings against the singer for alleged trademark infringement by selling products with a mark “substantially identical to, or deceptively similar to” her own. 

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson’s stage name Katy Perry combines her first name and her mother’s maiden name. She is defending the allegation of trademark infringement, pleading that she uses the Katy Perry name in good faith, a defence under the trademark act. Parallelly she has also launched a cross-claim to have the fashion designer’s trademark cancelled.  

6. Any Body Can Use ‘Magic Masala’ And Magical Masala’- Supreme Court Dismisses ITC’s Plea Against Nestle

A special leave petition filed by ITC Ltd (owner of Yippie) challenging the order of the Madras High Court has been dismissed by the Supreme Court. The High Court refused to restrain the use of the expressions ‘Magic Masala’ and ‘Magical Masala’ by Nestle India Ltd. (owner of Maggi) concerning its instant noodles.

The Madras High Court had dismissed the injunction suit brought by ITC against Nestle for using a similar expression to market its product (Maggi) which ITC had used before in its product (Yippie). ITC had contended that the phonetically similar phrase was used by Nestle with the dishonest intention to create confusion in the minds of the consumers.

The Supreme Court refused to interfere with this order of the High Court. The Bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna held that the words challenged were not the trademark of ITC. Further, ITC propounded the argument in the SC that the trade practice of discerning between the two instant noodles was based on the “Masala flavour”. The Court dismissed this submission and opined that the loyalty of the consumers lies with the brand names i.e., “Maggi” and “Yippie”, and that masala or non-masala were mere subdivisions. 

7. Biogen Loses Bid to Revive Patent on Tecfidera MS Drug

Massachusetts based multinational biotech company, Biogen Inc. lost a bid in a case that it sent for an appeal. The objective was to revive a patent on the multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera. The case was against Viatris Inc, a Pennsylvania based healthcare company.

The drug accounted for more than a quarter of the company’s revenue before generic versions were introduced. The appeal court held the trial court’s verdict right when it took away the patent on the same. 

The patented material was a component in a twice-daily pill given in standard doses. The ruling federal judge from Delaware expressed that she was following the precedent set by the West Virginia ruling – to facilitate generic-drug manufacturing and supply. 

Biogen had been looking forward to the patent as it will help block low-cost rivals until 2028. A patent on the drug’s active ingredient expired in June 2020. Around August 2020, Viatris started selling the generic version of the drug. The company’s market value has dropped notably after the patent expiry.

8. In last four years, number of patents filed from India has doubled: Aloknath De

Chief Technology Officer of the Samsung Research Institute, Bangalore, Aloknath De, talked about the importance of filing patents to empower technologies in a country like India. He said the same during an interview acknowledging the rise of patent filings in India over the last few years. 

The research institute alone does over a thousand patent filings every year. These filings are deliberately done first in India to accelerate the growth of India’s patent portfolio. On average 25% of their research ends up as products they can practically utilize.

Aloknath De has also expressed his happiness in the innovation index of India (released by WIPO) jumping 35 spots from last time. He mentioned that their company is moving towards more advanced research, and thereby filing. The possibility of Artificial Intelligence being used in work is also under scrutiny. Regarding academica and its impact; he talks about how industry-university interactions will pave the way for more promising results in the future.  

Image Sources

  1. Szymon12455 on Unsplash
  2. Myriam Jessier on Unsplash
  3. on Artwars.net 
  4. Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
  5. Kueckhovener on Pixabay 
  6. Viarami on Pixabay 
  7. Biogen by Biogen 
  8. Samsung R&D by Samsung