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IP News Updates: May 2023

  • The United States Supreme Court Categorically Rejects the Fair Use Defense in Andy Warhol Foundation v Goldsmith

The US Supreme Court has decided against the Andy Warhol Foundation in the closely watched dispute between the Andy Warhol Foundation and Lynn Goldsmith. The judgment stems from an appeal filed by the Foundation against the decision rendered by the US Court of Appeals. Analysing the nature of the transformative use of the work of art, the Supreme Court sided with Goldsmith. It concluded that both Goldsmith’s photograph and the Prince Series “substantially share the same purpose” and that where “the secondary use is of a commercial nature”, it goes against the first factor of fair use, viz the purpose and character of the use. The Court also found that the Foundation did not offer any persuasive justification for its use.

  • Copyright Infringement Suit Involving Heavy Metal Band Megadeth and an Illustrator ends

Earlier this year, New York-based illustrator and designer Brent Elliott White sued Megadeth, the Universal Music Group, and others for copyright infringement. As per the complaint filed in the United States Eastern District Court of New York, White created artwork for the band’s album ‘The Sick, the Dying … and the Dead!’ but was not paid for it. In addition, he alleged that the defendants licensed his artwork to third parties to be used on album merchandise and was featured in Rolling Stone without giving him credit. As a result, he filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement and multiple other claims related to the payment. The suit has concluded with the parties filing a joint notice of settlement. The details regarding the sum of the settlement have not been disclosed yet.

  • Delhi High Court Decides Satyajit Ray to be the First Owner of Copyrighted Work Written And Directed By Him

Around fifty years ago, producer RD Bansal commissioned the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray to write the screenplay and direct the 1966 Bengali film ‘Nayak’. In 2018, HarperCollins Publishers India published the original screenplay as novelised by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay. RDB and Co. Hindu Undivided Family (whose Karta was RD Bansal) filed a suit in the Delhi High Court stating that the novelisation and the subsequent publication infringed their copyright vested in the film, in addition to all the indirect, derivative, and related rights associated with it. On the other hand, HarperCollins alleged that they had obtained the license to novelise the screenplay. It further argued that Ray was the copyright's first owner, which was passed on to his son Sandip Ray and the Society for Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives upon Satyajit’s death. The Delhi High Court ruled in favour of HarperCollins and affirmed that Satyajit Ray was indeed the first author and owner of the screenplay in line with Section 17 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957.

  • Bombay High Court Grants Dynamic Injunction Against Instagram Account Holders for Infringing Copyright in Scam 1992

32 Instagram accounts used clips and parts of the hit series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story to promote their business. Aggrieved by this, the show's makers, Applause Entertainment Pvt Ltd, approached the Bombay High Court to restrain the defendants and others from infringing upon their copyright and illegally using parts from their work. The Court granted an ad-interim dynamic injunction, which allows the rightsholder to extend the original injunction order against all mirror websites that may subsequently come up to continue giving access to the infringing content. The injunction was granted against the owners of the 32 Instagram accounts and other unknown persons (also known as a John Doe or Ashok Kumar order).

  • Blinkhit v. Blinkit – Karnataka High Court Sets Aside Interim Injunction Order

Blinkhit Pvt. Ltd., a Bengaluru-based startup, filed an application at the Trial Court, seeking an injunction to restrain Blink Commerce Pvt. Ltd. (BCPL) from using the trademark ‘Blinkit’, as it infringed upon their trademark ‘Blinkhit’. Blinkhit claimed it had registered and had been doing business under the mark ‘Blinkit’ since 2016, whereas BCPL started using the mark ‘Blinkit’ only in 2021. The Trial Court granted the injunction in favour of Blinkhit. Recently, the Karnataka High Court noted that the Trial Court had passed the injunction on the basis that Blinkhit obtained its trademark ‘Blinkhit’ much before BCPL, but mere registration cannot be construed as a document of title. Moreover, the High Court observed that the nature of business carried on by both parties is different. The High Court opined that the Trial Court’s Order was in error and was, as a result, set aside.

  • Delhi High Court Restrains Rogue Websites from Streaming Spider-Man: Across The SpiderVerse

Sony Pictures Animation Inc (Sony) approached the Delhi High Court, concerned that its movie SpiderMan: Across The Spider-Verse has already been made available on various rogue websites despite no license being granted for the same. In a move to give relief to Sony, the Delhi High Court restrained more than 100 rogue websites from posting, streaming, reproducing, distributing, or making any parts of the movie available to the public. It also directed internet service providers to block access to these websites and ordered the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to issue a notification in this regard.

  • Scientists at the Banaras Hindu University Receive Patent from the German Patent Office For Work Combatting the Growth of the Covid-19 Virus

The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) recently granted a patent to a therapeutic approach combatting the COVID-19 virus. The team consisting of researchers Prof Parimal Das, Prashant Ranjan, Neha, Chandra Devi, Dr Garima Jain, Prashasti Yadav, Dr Chandana Basu Malick, and Dr Bhagyalaxmi Mohapatra from the Centre for Genetic Disorders at the Banaras Hindu University (the BHU) came up with this novel approach that comprises using the Somnifericin Phyto molecule growth inhibitor, which restricts the growth and spreading of the virus. The development has been described as “potentially leading to improved treatment options and preventive measures”. The granting of the patent can significantly accelerate scientific advancements targeted towards battling the global health crisis.

  • Sonos Wins Infringement Suit Against Google Involving Patent In Smart Speakers

Sonos Inc and Google LLC have been involved in a patent war since 2020. The issue began when Sonos sued Google for copying their technology during their initial collaboration to integrate Google's streaming music service into their products. This has since then led to a series of lawsuits and countersuits in different jurisdictions, like the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. The San Francisco federal jury recently decided in favour of Sonos in the suit involving the infringement of one of the patents owned by the company over smart-speaker technology. Sonos alleged that Google copied its patented technology in their wireless audio devices like Google Chromecast Audio and Google Home. The jury found Google guilty of the infringement and ruled that it owes Sonos $32.5 million in damages. While Sonos initially claimed $90 million, Google’s court filing mentions that the amount was reduced from $3 billion after U.S. District Judge William Alsup narrowed the case.

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