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IP News Update-February 2023

India Ranks 42 Of 55 Countries On the International IP Index

The International IP Index Report created and published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce compares the economies of various countries against the backdrop of the international IP environment. As per the Report, India stands in the 42nd position compared to 55 economies. The categories included in the Report vary from patents and copyrights to IP enforcement and ratification of international treaties. Although India’s total score remains the same as last year at 38.64%, the Report appreciates its continued strong efforts to combat copyright piracy, generous IP-based tax incentives and steps to improve its overall national IP environment.

Famous International ‘H’ Mark owned by Hermès declared as a “well-known” trademark

Luxury brand Hermes International filed a trademark infringement suit against Crimzon Fashion Accessories at the Delhi High Court for using a mark deceptively similar to the former’s trademark. In addition to requesting the Court to grant an injunction restraining Crimzon from using the said mark, Hermes also prayed to the Court to declare the ‘H’ mark a well-known trademark. The Court considered factors like the brand’s trans-border reputation, the recognition and accolades received the presence of its outlets in Delhi and Mumbai, and numerous trademark registrations in over 93 countries. Based on the documentary evidence submitted by Hermès, the Court held that the criteria laid down by enlisted in Sections 11(6) and 11(7) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 was duly satisfied, thus declaring the mark to be a “well-known” trade mark.

U.S Copyright Office partially rescinds copyright registration previously granted to a graphic novel generated with the help of an AI tool

In September 2022, Kris Kashtanova obtained a copyright registration for their graphic novel consisting of the original text and striking images. While Kris wrote and arranged the texts in the novel, the accompanying pictures were produced using Midjourney, a text-to-image AI tool. Although the work was previously granted copyright registration, it has come into the limelight again, as the Copyright Office issued a letter that it intends to cancel the registration partially. Stating that the images generated by Midjourney were not “products of human authorship” and that the original copyright application did not disclose the use of the tool, the images cannot avail of copyright protection. But the Office affirmed that Kris is entitled to copyright over the expressive content written and arranged by her.

Louis Vuitton threatened with a copyright infringement lawsuit over the unauthorised use of artist’s paintings

French luxury fashion label Louis Vuitton received a cease-and-desist letter alleging copyright infringement by the Joan Mitchell Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works towards building appreciation for the late artist’s artworks. Lois Vuitton recently released an advertisement campaign that featured the artist’s famous paintings in the background. Although the brand had initially reached out to seek permission to use the said works, the Foundation had refused. However, the brand went ahead with the campaign, which led to the Foundation sending a letter demanding the withdrawal of the advertisement. The Foundation has also issued a public statement regarding the incident, stating that the unauthorised use of the paintings for commercial gain and thus disregarding the artist's rights is a “grave disappointment.”

Brazil joins the Hague System

Brazil is the latest country to have ratified the Hague Agreement for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. By acceding to the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement, Brazil can take advantage of the Hague System’s streamlined process of securing international design protection in 96 countries through one application. The 1999 Act will be enacted in Brazil from August 1, 2023.

Disney Hotstar’s domain name renewal mess results in network outage in India

Disney Hotstar’s network outage while streaming the cricket match between India and Australia resulted in numerous viewers being unable to access the streaming service for nearly 45 minutes. The ‘unforeseen technical issue’ described by Hotstar was reportedly the result of the domain name’s expiry. The incident highlights the importance of protecting an entity’s domain name and its timely renewal.

Trade Secret Lawsuit concerning Tiffany & Co. and Cartier resolved

In February 2022, Cartier accused Tiffany & Co. of trying to retrieve trade secrets and other related confidential information about its ‘high jewellery business’ by hiring an employee who previously worked with Cartier. In its lawsuit, Cartier not only alleged that the employee downloaded confidential information about Cartier’s line of jewellery and passed it on to Tiffany but also accused Tiffany of having a “disturbing culture of misappropriating competitive information”. Recently, both brands submitted a “stipulation of discontinuance with prejudice” in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, thus ending the year-long dispute. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed yet.

Toblerone’s iconic logo to change in accordance with the Swissness legislation

Mondolez International, the makers of Toblerone, is moving some of its production to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. As a result, the chocolate’s logo and packaging will no longer be the same. The Swissness legislation of 2017 stipulates that products not made in Switzerland cannot bear any indicators of Swiss provenance, like national symbols or the Swiss cross. Since a part of Toblerone’s production is being moved outside Switzerland, the packaging can no longer display the image of Matterhorn Mountain. In addition to replacing the famous logo with a more generic summit, the packaging will now read ‘established in Switzerland’ instead of’ ‘made in Switzerland’.

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