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IP News Updates: February 2022

  • No copyright for AI created works in the US

In 2018, Steven Thaler had applied to the US Copyright Office seeking to register a two-dimensional artwork called ‘A Recent Entrance to Paradise’ which was autonomously created by an AI, named to “Creativity Machine”. In 2019 and in a review of the same matter in 2020, the US Copyright Office rejected his application since it determined that the artwork “lacked the human authorship necessary to sustain a claim in copyright.” Although Thaler argued that such a requirement was unconstitutional and unsupported by either statute or case law, the Copyright Office upheld its decision and dismissed Thaler’s application. In contrast to this, the UK allows filing of copyright for AI-created works which stays valid for 50 years thereafter. This is because the UK statutes provide for the protection of machine-generated works.


  • Ayurvedic practitioner in Mumbai receives a patent for fistula treatment

Dr. Amar Dwivedi, who is the head of the surgery department at the School of Ayurveda, DY Patil University developed an Ayurvedic para surgical treatment for anal fistula. The device created by Dr. Dwivedi is a sterile, flexible, disposable tube-like structure made of high-density polyethylene material which took nearly a year to develop. Dr. Dwivedi states that he wants to overcome the present limitations of Ayurvedic treatments and make the procedure user-friendly. He recently received a patent for this invention.


  • Apple wins the copyright lawsuit over racially diverse emoji

In 2013, Cub Club Investment LLC’s founder Katrina Parrot, created and launched an app called “iDiversicons” containing the world’s first emojis with diverse skin tones. Parrot and Apple had entered into talks regarding a potential partnership between the two in 2014 which didn’t go through. Later, Apple created its own set of multiracial emojis following which Parrot filed a case for copyright and trademark infringement against Apple. After examining the facts, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chabbria dismissed the lawsuit by stating that Apple had only copied the unprotectable “idea” of multiracial emojis due to significant differences between the coloring, shapes, and other features.


  • India grants 28,000 patents, 2.5 lakh trademarks and 16,000 copyrights in 2021

While addressing the nation in a seminar organised by the Delhi High Court on “Adjudication of IPR Disputes in India”, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India had granted 28,000 patents, registered over 2.5 lakh trademarks and over 16,000 copyrights in 2021 which would have a ripple effect on the economy in supporting innovation and technology. The Economic Survey 2021-22 tabled in the Parliament also stated that the filing of IP in India had increased by over 30% and number of patents granted had tripled in 2021. In order to encourage startups to file more patents, the Government provides incentives such as upto 80% rebate on patent filings and 50% rebate on trademark filings.


  • H&M loses copyright infringement suit: Supreme Court holds that inadvertent legal errors not enough to overturn infringement decisions

Unicolors registered its copyright in a number of different designs and subsequently sued H&M for copyright infringement. H&M argued that the registration made by Unicolor was not valid since it had registered multiple designs under a single copyright and the Copyright Office required that in such cases, all designs need to be published together which Unicolors failed to do. The U.S. Supreme Court noted that copyrights are often filed by copyright holders, with little or no knowledge of the requirements under law. Where mistakes of law can be attributed to lack of knowledge, the safe harbour exception will kick in and the copyright will continue to be valid.


  • Australian Government allocates $5.8 million for intellectual property commercialisation scheme

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills, and Employment (DESE) in Australia proposed a Higher Education Research Commercialisation Intellectual Property Framework (HERC IP Framework) which aims to build a bridge between universities and businesses. The Government allocated $5.8 million for the project to provide standardized IP licensing and contractual agreements in harmony with international best practices which aims to create uniformity, cut costs and time, provide a better framework to start-ups, SMEs, universities, and individual researchers for negotiation and protect their rights.


  • Nykaa and L’Oreal settle suit over IP infringement after two years

In 2019, France-based cosmetic giant, L’Oreal S.A., filed a case in the Delhi High Court against India-based cosmetic giant, Nykaa for infringement of its intellectual property rights. L’Oreal alleged that Nykaa’s products infringed upon the brand packaging of its Maybelline product line. In addition to a restraining order, L’Oreal sought reliefs in the form of damages, rendition of accounts, and any other costs incurred in relation to the suit against Nykaa. Nykaa agreed to modify its product packaging and artwork which was approved by L’Oreal in exchange for dropping all claims relating to the payment of costs and damages.

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