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News Updates: February and March 2024

The Indian Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2024 Comes Into Effect

On 15 March, the Indian Ministry Of Commerce And Industry published changes to the Patents Rules 2003, introducing the Indian Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2024 (the Rules). These changes have key implications for the Indian patent application procedure, most significantly on the application timeline. For instance, the time limit for requesting an examination of the application has been reduced from forty-eight months to thirty-one months. Further, an additional provision allows for requesting a grace period of twelve months, under certain conditions. The Rules now also provide for a Certificate of Inventorship to be issued in the inventor’s name, with provisions for duplicate copies to be issued if the original gets lost, destroyed, damaged, or cannot be produced.

US District Court Judge Sides With Sony In $500m Patent Infringement Suit

In 2017, Genuine Enabling Technology (GET) sued Sony, alleging patent infringement by three of Sony’s PlayStation products - the PS3 console and DualShock 3 controller, the PS4 console and DualShock 4 controller, and the Move controller. Claiming $500 million as damages, GET contended that the PlayStation controller’s functionality incorporated GET’s patented technology. In response, Sony filed a motion for summary judgment of noninfringement at the District Court of Delaware in 2023 and argued that GET did not give enough evidence to support the claims. Judge Goldberg, in his Memorandum Opinion, granted Sony’s motion and agreed that GET failed to “raise a dispute of fact”, effectively concluding the case. Interestingly, GET has also filed a similar patent infringement suit against Nintendo, that remains ongoing. 

Fujifilm Sues Eastman Kodak For Patent Infringement 

Fujifilm Corporation filed a lawsuit against Eastman Kodak Company in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. It alleges infringement of four of Fujifilm’s patents related to various aspects of processless lithographic printing plate technologies. In its press release, Fujifilm announced that it is seeking relief for Kodak’s unauthorised activities of using, manufacturing, selling, offering to sell, and importing the products infringing upon these patents. Some of these products include the ones sold under Kodak’s brand ‘SONORA X’. Previously, Fujifilm sued Kodak’s European subsidiaries for similar infringement on European counterparts of the US patents.

Coachella Music Festival Sues Local Brewery For Using Confusingly Similar Logos And Advertisements

Coachella Music Festival LLC, the organiser of the renowned Coachella music and cultural festival, recently sued a local brewery, Coachella Valley Brewing Co., for allegedly violating federal trademark law by use of ‘confusingly similar’ branding. Some cited examples of infringement include the brewery’s use of a Ferris Wheel in its logo, an element claimed by the organiser’s attorneys to be associated with the festival itself. Moreover, the organisers assert that the label used for the brewery’s beer features the logo and graphics of palm trees and mountains on a gradient background, which are highly similar to the graphics featured on the festival’s promotional materials. According to the organiser’s attorneys, this use of confusingly similar branding will mislead consumers to suggest an erroneous association with the festival. The filing of the complaint comes after a cease-and-desist letter was sent to the brewery in January, to which they responded that it would deal with the issues, yet continued to use the confusingly similar branding.

EU Parliament Gives Green Light To Regulation On Geographical Indications For Wine, Spirit Drinks, And Agricultural Products

The European Union (EU) Parliament has given a green signal to adopt the EU Regulation on Geographical Indications For Wine, Spirit Drinks, And Agricultural Products. The Regulation overall aims at enhancing the protection guaranteed for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products having the requisite characteristics or reputation linked to their place of production. Recognising the important role played by producer groups, the Regulation ensures that they have the necessary powers to manage the Geographical Indications (GIs) and can earn a fair return. It goes on to ensure an efficient and user-friendly registration process for the GIs. Further, the Regulations target online infringements by empowering national authorities to take measures against illegal use of GIs online and entrusting the EU Intellectual Property Office to establish and manage a domain name information and alert system. Once the Council formally adopts the regulation, it will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force twenty days later.   

Andy Warhol Foundation And Goldsmith Settle The Landmark Copyright Fair Use Dispute

The copyright dispute between the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) and photographer Lynn Goldsmith was one of the closely watched disputes last year, where the US Supreme Court rejected the fair use defence given by AWF and sided with Goldsmith. In a joint filing, both parties have proposed to settle the case, with AWF paying Goldsmith close to $21,000 to include taxable costs and licensing fees. Both parties have agreed to be responsible for their own costs, including attorneys’ fees. Whereas Goldsmith has decided to not advance claims for relief for the original Prince Series, AWF has also agreed to withdraw its claim for declaratory relief regarding the original series. 

British Phonographic Industry Takes Legal Action Against AI Voice Cloning Service For Copyright Infringement

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), an association representing the UK’s recorded music business, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Jammable, a platform utilising AI to clone the voices of popular singers and create new music. Previously known as Voicify, the service creates deepfake clones by using AI-generated voice models of not just famous singers like Adele, Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, but also political figures like Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Using these voice models, users can create musical deepfakes by using the recorded voices of famous people. Considering that no rights clearance process is involved before using the copyright-protected music, the BPI initiated legal action against the AI start-up to dissuade it from continuing its unauthorised activities. Although BPI’s action prompted the platform to rename itself and change a few functionalities, the core problem of the unethical use of AI to generate music remains unaddressed.

Tennessee Signs ELVIS Act To Protect Name, Photograph, Voice, And Likeness Of Individuals From AI

The State of Tennessee recently enacted the ‘Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security Act of 2024’- nicknamed the ELVIS Act- to protect a person’s likeness, including their voice from unauthorised exploitation. The Act supersedes Tennessee’s ‘Personal Rights Protection Act of 1984’ which although protected one’s name, image, and likeness, did not consider the use of AI to impersonate voices. The ELVIS Act rectifies this by offering a broader scope of protection, recognising that every individual has a property right in the use of their name, photograph, voice, or likeness in any medium in any manner. It considers the perils of generative AI by protecting against misuse of voices irrespective of whether the generated sound contains the actual voice or a simulated version of it. The Act is set to come into effect on July 1, 2024. 

Nvidia Faces Lawsuit By Authors For Alleged Infringement Of Copyright-Protected Works To Train AI Platform

Authors Brian Keene, Abdi Nazemian, and Stewart O’Nan allege in their proposed class action lawsuit that Nvidia has used their copyright-protected books to train its AI platform NeMo’s large learning models. They allege that their books were included in the dataset of 1,96,640 books used to train NeMo to “simulate ordinary written language” before the dataset was taken down in October due to reported copyright infringement. The authors have demanded unspecified damages from Nvidia for people in the United States whose copyrighted works helped train NeMo’s large language models in the last 3 years.  

Google Fined €250m By French Competition Watchdog For Breaching Intellectual Property Deal With Press Publishers

French competition watchdog, Autorité De La Concurrence (Autorité), announced that it has fined Google for not complying with its commitments towards press publishers and news agencies for using their copyright-protected content. Amidst competition and copyright concerns, Google had agreed to a deal with the French publishers in 2022. However, Autorité found that Google breached some of the commitments included in the deal, specifically: providing press agencies and publishers with the necessary information for transparent assessment of their remuneration, negotiating in good faith, and ensuring that negotiations do not affect other economic relationships between Google and press agencies and publishers. Autorité voiced concerns over Google’s AI service Bard using copyright-protected content owned by publishers and agencies to train its foundation model. Consequently, Autorité imposed a fine of €250 million on Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, Google Ireland Ltd, and Google France. Notably, the tech giant has agreed to settle the fine, stating in their blog post, a desire to finally close this file which has been open for too long”.

EU Parliament Approves Landmark AI Legislation

As we reported in January, there have been intense talks in the EU about implementing a piece of legislation focused on establishing obligations on AI and introducing transparency requirements for generative AI models. The EU lawmakers have finally approved the Artificial Intelligence Act- a Regulation that aims to build a uniform legal framework for making AI a “human-centric technology”. The law was passed with 523 votes in favour, 46 against, and 49 abstentions, and is yet to undergo final scrutiny by lawyer-linguist and formal endorsements by the Council. As we wait for the legislation to enter into force, the adopted text can be accessed here.

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