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News Update: April - May 2024

Updated: Jul 6

  • Reggaeton Takes Center Stage in Copyright Infringement Suit

Over 1000 Reggae songs have come under scrutiny for the potential copyright infringement of the works of Cleveland "Clevie" Browne and the late Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson.  A complaint of up to 228 pages was filed in the United States District Court of California naming approximately 162 artists and record labels as defendants. The list contained several big names from the industry such as Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Enrique Iglesias, Drake, and Bad Bunny. Many defendants filed a motion to dismiss the suit since the claim appeared to be an attempt to monopolize the whole genre. The Court, however, did not share this view and rejected the motion, stating that a detailed analysis was necessary before deciding the credibility of the suit. 

  • No time limit on monetary recovery: US Supreme Court in a Copyright Infringement Suit

Sherman Nealy sued Warner Music in 2018 for copyright infringement of the song “Jam the Box”. Nealy alleged that Warner Music had obtained an improper license from his business partner while he served a sentence for drug dealing in 2008. In an appeal to the US Supreme Court, Warner Music alleged that Nealy could only sue for infringements that occurred within 3 years before the date of filing due to the statute of limitation. The Court considered the “injury rule” and the “discovery rule” to calculate the three years stipulated in the Copyright legislation. The Supreme Court held that the “discovery rule” would apply in copyright cases and allowed Nealy to recover damages from 2008. Read the case analysis of the US Supreme Court decision here

  • A New Treaty Emerges: WIPO’s Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

After 25 years of effort from the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore, a treaty was released in the final week of the WIPO Diplomatic Conference on Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge. While genetic resources are still largely governed by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the new treaty mandates the disclosure of any use of genetic resources/ traditional knowledge in an invention on its patent application.


  • Sony Music Sues Marriott Hotels for Alleged “Rampant” Copyright Infringement

Sony Music, along with several other music labels such as Ultra, LaFace, and Arista Music took Marriott International to the US District Court of Delaware for wilful copyright infringement in May. Marriott’s social media posts caused the suit as Sony identified over 931 instances of infringements of its sound recordings ranging from works of Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Shakira to Michael Jackson. Sony claims that they had previously entered into a tolling agreement with Marriott, but the latter had refused to extend the license reasonably.


  • YouTuber Faces Copyright Strikes over Washing Machine Chimes

A YouTuber, “Albino” took to X over how his video was flagged through YouTube’s Content ID mechanism for a washing machine chime in the background. On researching the claim, Albino found that another user had recorded the chime and uploaded it to YouTube because of which the Content ID system flagged his content. The washing machine, manufactured by Samsung uses the tune “Die Froelle” composed by Franz Schubert in 1817 and, hence, is in the public domain. Albino went on to highlight how the YouTube Content ID system could be used to abuse copyrights. 

  • Nike Succeeds Against Adidas in a Trademark Infringement Suit Over Stripes

Adidas sued Nike for using a two or three-stripe design across their trousers in Germany. The regional court upheld the Adidas trademark and prohibited Nike from using a similar design on their trousers in 2022. However, in an appeal, Nike was allowed to use the stripes in four of its five disputed designs. This ruling comes as a surprise since Adidas has had a successful run previously in protecting its trademark across the industry, having filed over 90 lawsuits and signed numerous more settlement agreements over its iconic stripes trademark. 

  • The Clash of Teslas in India over Electric Scooters

The US-based automobile company, Tesla took an Indian battery maker, Tesla Power India Pvt Ltd to the Delhi High Court over trademark infringement. The US company claimed that they had served a cease and desist letter in April 2024 and the Indian counterpart had not cooperated, leading to the suit. In its defense, the Indian company claims that they have been functioning in the Indian market with all due registrations and permits before the US company and that they have made no claims of being related to the former.

  • Haldiram Wins the Trademark Infringement Suit Against a Copycat

The widely-known confectionary brand, Haldiram, wins a trademark infringement suit in the Delhi High Court against Berachah Sales Corporation. The defendant was trading with the names “Haldiram” and “Haldiram Bhujiawala” and had sought trademark registration in Class 43 for providing restaurant and hotel services. The plaintiff had made no efforts to seek registration within Class 43 as they were not in the business of restaurants, resorts, banquet balls, etc. The Court, while recognizing that the Haldiram brand is well-known, upheld the trademark and awarded damages of 50,00,000 INR. 

  • Bayer Faces a Blow as its Patent in Xarelto is invalidated in the UK

The London High Court invalidated Bayer’s patent in its famous blood-thinning drug, Xarelto, in a suit brought forth by a rival pharmaceutical manufacturer, Sando, for the lack of an “inventive step”. The company faced a similar invalidation proceeding in the EU where the Court dismissed the proceeding, holding the patent to be valid. Devastated by the decision, Bayer expressed its intent to appeal and take all measures to uphold its patent rights. 

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