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News Updates (Feb and March 2021)

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

1. India ranks 40th among 53 nations on the International Intellectual Property Index

On 23rd March, the U.S Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC) released its ninth annual International IP Index as intellectual property (IP) takes the centre stage in combatting the global pandemic. The Index evaluates the IP framework in each economy across 50 unique indicators which are believed to represent those economies that have the most effective IP systems. The categories of protection vary from patents, trademarks, copyrights to enforcement, commercialization of IP assets and the ratification of international treaties.

As per the Report, India scored 38.4 out of 100. The overall score has increased from 36.04 percent (16.22 out of 45) in the seventh edition to 38.46 percent (19.23 out of 50) in the eighth edition. According to Patrick Kilbride, the senior vice president of GIPC at the Chamber, India registered the second-highest growth over the nine editions of the US Chamber Index with an overall improvement of over 13 per cent among the BRICS nations.

2. YouTube introduces new ‘Check’ feature to curb copyright infringement

YouTube Studio has rolled out a new Checks feature in an attempt to screen copyright infringement. As the name suggests, the feature ‘checks’ for possible copyright violations in the video with the exact time code before uploading it. This way, content creators can modify the content and avoid potential copyright claims. However, as per the disclaimer on the YouTube Support Page, the copyright check is not final. Factors such as future manual claims, copyright strikes, and edits to their video settings may impact one’s video.

3. Nepal challenges India’s claim for geographical indication (GI) Tag for Basmati Rice

As reported earlier, India’s application for GI Tag for Basmati Rice was opposed by Pakistan. As per the latest update on the issue, Nepal has joined the club of opposition. Nepal’s opposition is based on the following claims :

-Basmati rice has been traditionally grown, sold and consumed in Nepal since ancient times. -National and international scientists,

research organizations have been working on basmati rice and developing aromatic rice varieties using local Basmati rice landraces since the 1960s. Particularly, four Basmati types of rice landraces have been registered in Nepal.

-Basmati Rice has significant social and cultural values in the Nepalese communities.

Unlike India, Nepal does not have a legal framework specifically for GI and the present trademark law protects potential GI. Meanwhile, Pakistan granted a GI Tag for Basmati Rice in January 2021. Further, India has filed applications in 19 foreign jurisdictions for protection of GI and Certification Mark for Basmati rice, with protection already granted by the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Kenya.

4. U.S Jury tells Apple to pay $308.5 million for patent infringement

A federal jury in Texas said Apple must pay about $308.5 million to Personalized Media Communications (PMC), a licensing firm for infringing a patent associated with digital rights management. PMC had sued Apple for infringing seven of its patents back in 2015. The infringement was in reference to Apple’s FairPlay technology employed in the App Store, Apple Music and iTunes. Apple had successfully challenged the case at the U.S. Patent Office, but a reversal of the decision by an Appeals Court led to the present trial. The jury has directed Apple to pay running royalty. The tech giant plans to appeal the decision.

5. Nokia strikes a patent licensing deal with Samsung

On 11th March, Nokia said that it has struck a deal with Samsung to license patents covering its innovations in video standards. The financial terms of the agreement have not been revealed yet. Months ago, Ericsson sued Samsung in the US over royalty payments and patent licenses and claimed infringement of its patents in 4G and next-generation 5G wireless cellular communications infrastructure systems. The U.S International Trade Commission plans to open an investigation based on these claims. Nokia’s patent portfolio comprises of around 20,000 patent families, including over 3,500 declared essential to 5G. It would be interesting to see how the dispute and investigation would play out in light of the patent licensing deal.

6. Oreo-maker takes Parle to court for alleged design infringement

US-based Intercontinental Brands, the maker of Oreo has moved the Delhi High Court against Parle Products, alleging that the design of one of its biscuit brands Fabio is deceptively similar to that of Oreo. Oreo entered the Indian market about a decade ago, while Fabio was launched in January 2020. In its hearing that took place on February 9th, the court declined the request to advance the hearing to an earlier date. The next date of hearing is April 12th.

7. ITC secures temporary injunction against CG Foods on Wai Wai Majedar Masala noodles

ITC filed a suit for permanent injunction and compensation, among others, against CG Foods (India) of Nepal-based Chaudhary Group, alleging copyright infringement and passing off. It claimed that CG Foods “intentionally and dishonestly” copied its distinctive packaging, trade dress and artistic work of Sunfeast YiPPee! Magic Masala by infringing the copyright and passing off Wai Wai X-Press Noodles Majedar Masala. A commercial court in Bengaluru has ordered an ex-parte temporary injunction restraining CG Foods from manufacturing and selling its Wai Wai X-Press Noodles Majedar Masala in India.

8. Decathlon India files trademark infringement suit against Pentathlon Sports

Decathlon Sports India has filed a trademark infringement suit against NCR-based Pentathlon Sports to stop the latter from infringing the registered trademark of Decathlon, selling substandard products in the market and passing them off as those of Decathlon. Decathlon claims that Pentathlon’s concept and tagline appear to be the same as theirs. These claims have been vehemently rejected by Vijay Kumar Rana, the founder of Pentathlon.

9. Nike Inc sues MSCHF Product Studio Inc. over ‘Satan Shoes’

Nike filed a suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York against MSCHF Product Studio Inc. claiming trademark infringement of Nike Air Max 97 sneakers. On 29th March, MSCHF launched ‘Satan Shoes’ in collaboration with American musician Lil Nas X. Nike claims that the newly-launched trainers are a modified version of the Air Max 97 and was done without seeking their approval or authorisation. Each shoe also features a signature Nike air bubble cushioning sole, containing red ink and a single drop of human blood donated by MSCHF members. Nike further claims that ‘Satan Shoes’ can lead to confusion and create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike, and therefore asks the court to stop MSCHF from selling the shoes and prevent them from using the famous Swoosh design mark.

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