IP News Update: November-December 2022
Updated: Jan 17
1. Indian Army’s ‘New Design and Camouflage Pattern Uniform’ Registered
The Defence Ministry announced at the start of November that the Indian Army registered its ‘New Design and Camouflage Pattern Uniform’, which was completed by the Kolkata Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademark. The fabric, which notably includes modifications specifically for women, is stronger, lighter, more breathable, easier to dry and maintain. Since registration has been complete, the IPR for the design is wholly owned by the Indian Army, and any vendor who manufactures the fabric will have done so in an unauthorised manner and hence be liable for infringement.
2. Delhi High Court levies ₹20 Lakh penalty on Club Factory in a Trademark Infringement Suit
Justice Prathiba M. Singh imposed costs of ₹20 lakh on Club Factory, the Chinese retailer, for infringement of luxury brand Louis Vuitton’s trademark. The Delhi High Court, permanently restrained Club Factory from advertising or selling any products bearing the logo. The Court further directed the Ministry of Electronic Information Technology (MeiTY) and the Telecommunications Department (DoT) to block Club Factory’s website from being accessed by the public.
3. Comedian Vir Das booked by Mumbai Police for Copyright Infringement
An FIR was filed by producer Ashvin Gidwani against stand-up comedian Vir Das, Netflix and two other individuals on 4th November 2022 for copyright infringement. Gidwani alleges that the promo of Vir Das’ show on Netflix in 2020, infringed the 2010 version of the same show. An investigation ensued, and as of now, no persons have been arrested.
4. Madras High Court restains over 12,000 websites from Unlawfully Broadcasting FIFA World Cup 2022
Viacom had approached the Madras High Court seeking an interim injunction to restrain more than 12,000 websites from showcasing the FIFA World Cup 2022. The Court held that if such infringement was left unchecked, it would lead to irreparable damage to the plaintiff, which could not be compensated. Thus, Viacom18 was given the right to prevent any entity or person from copying, transmission, display, release, showing, hosting, communication, downloading, uploading, playing and exhibiting the event.
5. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Obtains National Patent for Indigenous Hybrid Hydroponics Technology
The Indian Patent Office stated in its official communication that the Patentee (PAU) has been granted a patent for inventing a hydroponics system that ensures better water and nutrient absorption. The research, having been conducted by Dr. V. P. Sethi, a professor and the head of the mechanical engineering department of the university, has resulted in inexpensive technology that could change the way urban rooftop vertical gardening is being done.
6. Andaman & Nicobar files First Geographical Indication Application for the Nicobari ‘hodi’ Craft
‘Hodi’, the Nicobari tribe’s traditional craft, is a type of canoe. The Geographical Indications Registry at Chennai received the application for the same from the Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Development Council. The indigenous knowledge to build a ‘hodi’ has been inherited among generations of Nicobarese. The ‘hodi’ is built using local trees or those from neighbouring islands, and its design slightly varies from island to island.
7. Delhi High Court Restrains Unauthorised use of Actor Amitabh Bachchan’s Name, Voice and Pictures
In a landmark judgement, the Delhi High Court passed an omnibus interim order on November 25th 2022, recognising Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan’s publicity and personality rights. Court restrained any unauthorised use of the actor’s name, image, voice or likeness in any form. The bench, composed of Justice Navin Chawla, held that the actor was a well-known personality and any misuse of his personality rights would result in irreparable loss.
8. Malaysian Court sets Landmark Precedent in Restricting Commercial Establishments from Broadcasting Pirated Sports and Entertainment Content
Bar Theory Sdn Bhd, the defendant in this case,, broadcasted several Premier League (football) matches at their restaurant bar in Kuala Lumpur using a set-top box without a subscription from the licensed broadcaster of the livestream. The Court held that the defendants’ broadcast of the matches to its viewers resulted in infringement because the viewers did not consitute the section of the public that was contemplated by the licensor, the Football Association Premier League Ltd..
9. First-Ever Saliva-Based Concussion Test Patented by Penn State and Partners
A rapid and accurate test to diagnose concussions through salivary testing has been developed by scientists at Penn State and its partners, Quadrant Biosciences and the State University of New York. This has now been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Quadrant Biosciences is in pursuit of licensing this technology, and as per Rich Uhlig, the CEO of the company, the test is expected to be available to the healthcare sector later in 2023.
10. Dismissal of copyright infringement allegations in ‘Kantara’s Varaha Roopam’ case by Kerala High Court
Since the last update on this case by IP Matters (which may be found here), readers might be interested to know that the Palakkad District Court’s order was challenged before the Kerala High Court citing Article 227 of the Indian Constitution. The latter dismissed the case on the grounds that appealing under Article 227 was illogical because a first appeal from order as per the Code of Civil Procedure [Order XLIII, Rule 1(r)] was a better way to proceed with the appeal.
11. Missisippi songwriter accuses Mariah Carey of Copyright Infringement
$20 million damages has been claimed by a Mississippi songwriter, Andy Stone, in a suit against artist Mariah Carey. Her co-writer, Sony Music and Sony Corp. of America, allege copyright infringement with regard to the song titled, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. He accused Carey and her co-writer of infringing his copyright on purpose by making a derivative of the song and unfairly raking in profit as a result. However, Stone’s lawyers voluntarily withdrew the case.
12. Roddy Ricch Slammed with Infringement Suit Over Chart-Topper ‘The Box’
Songwriter Greg Perry filed a suit against Roddy Ricch claiming that ‘The Box’ was an unauthorised derivative of his song titled, ‘Come On Down’. Arguments for the plaintiff included that Ricch did not licence the elements of the song and instead chose to infringe Perry’s copyright. Nevertheless, Perry would have to prove that Ricch had access to the song in the first place to make any claim for damages, but Perry’s lawyers argued that the popularity of ‘Come On Down’ as a sample was sufficient to indicate the possibility of access. If Perry has his way, it could mean million dollar royalties for ‘The Box’, a song that spent eleven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
13. NetEase Sued by Riot for Infringing Copyright of Game ‘Valorant’
Multiple suits have been piled upon NetEase - its mobile FPS Hyper Front allegedly infringes copyrights over “substantial part of Valorant”. Riot Games’ lawyer, Dan Nabe claims that all of Valorant’s creative choices have been adopted as is in NetEase’s game. This suit has been instituted in multiple countries like the U. K., Brazil and Singapore, in seeking substantial damages.
14. Mumbai-based Firm to Pay ₹20 Lakh Damages Awarded to Microsoft in Infringement Case
The Delhi High Court, has awarded ₹20 lakh damages and a permanent injunction to Microsoft in a twelve-year copyright case. The defendants, a Mumbai-based firm, have been restrained from directly or indirectly storing, reproducing, installing and using unlicensed or pirated software.
15. Smucker’s Trademark Squabble with Small Business Over ‘Uncrustables’
Gallant Tiger, which sells round, crustless peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, received a cease-and-desist letter from J. M. Smucker Company, which accused them of infringing Smucker’s trademarked shape and packaging of its ‘Uncrustables’. In response, Gallant Tiger’s Attorney has argued that Smucker’s patent over the Uncrustables, however, has expired, and its claim over the attribute of crustless sandwiches as a trademark is questionable. While the outcome of this exchange is yet to be determined, Gallant Tiger’s owner, Mohamed hopes that they will come to an amicable resolution.
16. Bear Grylls Summoned by Delhi High Court in Copyright Infringement Suit
Popular British adventurer Bear Grylls, amongst others, has been issued a summons by the Delhi High Court in a case where an Indian script writer has alleged copyright infringement in his literary work by the show ‘Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls’. Apart from seeking a permanent injunction, the plaintiff has also demanded that damages be paid. The suit has been listed for hearing in February 2023.
17. United States Copyright Office (USCO) Revokes Copyright Protection Granted Earlier for AI-Generated Comic Book
Kris Kashtanova received copyright registration for the comic book ‘Zarya of the Dawn’ from the USCO in September 2022. She generated the comic book using ‘Midjourney’, a text-to-image generator AI engine in memory of her late grandmother. Kashtanova applied for a copyright to push for her claim that one must be allowed to own the copyright for using AI to make something. In December 2022, the USCO demanded revocation of the copyright over the comic, siding with the argument that only human-made work is eligible to obtain copyright protection.
18. Mansa Commercial Court Reasons that Sidhu Moosewala’s Parents Hold Copyright over Song ‘Jaandi Vaar’ in Granting Injunction Against Label Merchant Records
The parents of late Punjabi artist, Sidhu Moosewala, instituted a copyright infringement lawsuit in a Commercial Court in Mansa restraining the record label, Merchant Records Private Limited, from publishing or releasing the song ‘Jaandi Vaar’. The court at this stage, ruled that the case rested in favour of the plaintiffs and that Moosewala’s parents hold the copyright, and that in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, the defendant cannot publish the song whatsoever.
19. Delhi High Court Grants Injunction Restraining Law Firm From Adopting identical Logo
Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys, a Delhi-based IP firm sued Swarupa Ghosh, a Kolkata-based lawyer for infringing the former’s trademark comprising the former’s chambers’ logo. The Bench, composed of Justice Prathiba M. Singh notably mentioned that higher standards of integrity are an important prerequisite for IPR lawyers. The injunction has come into force since January 1st 2023, and the Court issued summons to the defendant firm.