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IP News Updates: December 2021

  • Copyright over Disney’s Iconic Characters to Expire in 2022

The Walt Disney Company (“Disney”), owns a plethora of copyright-protected characters. Of all the characters in the Disney archive, Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne is the most cherished. The characters were based on Milne's son Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, and Roo. Disney owned copyrights to these characters since 1926. Copyright protection under the U.S. Copyright Law is generally limited to the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. However, the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 in cases of “work for hire” protects a company's copyright for 95 years from first publication or 120 years after its creation. Disney protected all of its characters under this exception until 2021. But henceforth, the company may not be able to protect a few of its above-mentioned characters as it is now in the public domain.

  • The Fashion Industry Contributes to Interesting Trademark Filings in 2021

The World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) in its recent survey reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped companies – including those in the fashion, sportswear, and luxury industries – from offering up new goods and services, and seeking out corresponding trademark registrations. Global fashion brands like Chanel filed for the trademark registration of the number “5” in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for use on cosmetics. The Italian luxury fashion house Prada has also been angling to expand its rights in its triangle logo by filing for new trademark registrations.

  • Agatha Christie's Best-selling Murder Mystery is set to be a Registered Trademark in India

Famous English writer Agatha Christie’s detective novels have previously been adapted to TV series and movies. However, her best-selling murder mystery titled "And Then There Were None" is set to be a registered trademark in India. Agatha Christie’s grandson had made an application at the Indian Trademark Registry for the trademark registration of the title. The Indian Trademark Registry had refused to grant registration stating that the mark was not "distinctive" in nature. However, on appeal to the Delhi High Court, the title of the novel was allowed to be registered as a trademark in India.

  • The USPTO implements Trademark Modernization Act

The Trademark Modernization Act was recently implemented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Act provides new tools for individuals, businesses to request for cancellation of unused trademarks.The USPTO now can clear away unused registered trademarks from the federal trademark register by the new ex-parte expungement and re-examination proceedings. The USPTO can also move applications through the registration process more efficiently.

  • IIT Kharagpur Alumnus makes it to the Global list of Prolific Inventors after Getting over 200 Patents

Anil Agiwal (alumnus of IIT Kharagpur), a researcher and standardization expert in wireless communications, recently received the 200th US patent grant under his name. This has put him on the international list of prolific inventors with 315 others. His patents include innovations on advanced radio access technologies (such as 4G, 5G, 5G advanced) for cellular communication.

  • Bacardi seeks to protect its "Havana Club" Trademark

Bacardi Limited (“Bacardi”), one of the largest privately held, family-owned spirits companies in the world, has filed a lawsuit against the USPTO. Bacardi uses the name “Havana Club'' on American rum. It has now sued USPTO for allegedly violating the law by reviving a Cuban government entity's "Havana Club '' trademark. There has been a long-running battle between Bacardi and the Cuban government over the ownership of the "Havana Club" name, which has now reached the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

  • Chinese Copyright laws to be Strengthened for Live-streaming, e-commerce Platforms

The Chinese copyright regulator recently stated that they seek to improve copyright protection of live streaming, e-commerce and sports events by 2025. According to the 14th Five-Year Plan for Copyright Work issued by the National Copyright Administration of China, copyright protection will be strengthened and improved in new industries and new areas. Further, the Plan focuses on the development and application of new technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

  • Qatar implements the FIFA IP Law as it is ready to host FIFA 2022

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the highest governing body of association football, is all set to host the World Cup at Qatar in 2022. Interestingly, this is the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, has issued the new legislation, FIFA IP Law on the Protection of Trademarks, Copyrights and Related Rights of Fédération Internationale de Football Association ("FIFA"). The Law is an essential legislation key to Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022. It provides substantial protection for FIFA's intellectual property rights by easing and simplifying the registration of such material in Qatar. The Law recognizes FIFA's trademarks as "well-known" marks and regulated the usage and registration of the FIFA mark.

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