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News Updates: January 2024

Updated: Feb 22

  • Stability AI and Midjourney Dragged to Court by Artists over Copyright Infringement Claim

Artists, Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz filed a suit against Stability AI and Midjourney last year claiming that many of their works were used without authorization for training the companies' AI tools. The suit was trimmed down by Judge Orrick of the US State District Court of Nothern California as the Artists could not substantiate their allegations. However, the Court allowed the suit to ascertain if the AI tool was created through the unauthorised use of copyrighted works. The claim has strengthed after the discovery of a list containing 16000 names of artists whose works were used without consent for AI training.

  • Spotify Pushes for Clarification of the Uruguay Copyright Law Amendment

Spotify, a multi-national music streaming platform threatened to vacate its business from Uruguay following the introduction of several amendments to the copyright law. Articles 284 & 285 of the ‘Rendición de Cuentas’ law, also known as the ‘Accountability Act’, required that individual creative contributors of a work be compensated regardless of the contractual relationship with the “owners” of the work. Spotify sought clarification on whom this responsibility falls on – licensees like themselves or licensors (the owners of the copyright). They clarified that they already pay 70% of their revenue to the Licensors and they cannot afford to pay twice to two different stakeholders, leaving them with no option but to close their business in Uruguay. The Government, favoring Spotify, clarified that they or other similar platforms would not be required to make double payments, after which Spotify made a public statement that they would continue to operate in the country. 

  • OpenAI, Unsuccessful in Gaining Trademark Protection over “GPT”

Since its release in November 2022, OpenAI has been attempting to seek trademark protection over the term “ChatGPT'' in the US. The USPTO, however, has rejected the trademark application on the grounds of “lacking distinctiveness”. The Patent and Trademark Office clarifies that the term is an acronym for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer” and therefore is purely a descriptive trade name. OpenAI argued that the end consumer would not recognize that “GPT” is an acronym for a technical term, therefore, it is distinctive enough and indicates the product offered by OpenAI. Nonetheless, the USPTO rejected this claim. 

  • Football Club, Manchester City faces Trademark Infringement Suit over Training Kits

Manchester City announced its collaboration with “Asahi”, a beer manufacturing company. Along with its collaboration, Man City was meant to carry Asahi’s mark in their new alcohol-free beer, “Asahi Super Dry 0.0%”.  This plan was cut short when they were hit by a lawsuit by Superdry, an English clothing company. Superdry approached the High Court seeking an injunction against the Football Club fearing any damage to their reputation. Man City has now removed the “Super “Dry” from their official merchandise for this playing season and has retained only “Asahi 0.0%”. 

  • Google Coughs-Up $1.67 Billion as Settlement in a Patent Infringement Suit

Google faced a patent infringement lawsuit by Singular Computing over chips used to power their AI technology. Singular had approached the Massachusetts Federal Court alleging the infringement of their computer-processing innovation by Google and damages of $1.67 Billion. The claim states that this technology was shared with the company in 2010 and 2014 and that Google’s Tensor Processing Units infringed the technology disclosed. This technology was introduced in 2017 and 2018 by Google and was claimed to infringe two of Singular’s patents. Google still retains that it did not infringe any patents although it settled with Singular. 

  • Delhi High Court Upholds PepsiCo’s Patent in Plant Variety

PepsiCo is known for using a particular variety of potatoes called the FC5 potato variant for its potato chips. The said breed of potato is known for having lesser moisture, making it the best choice for fried snacks. In 2019, PepsiCo attempted to sue several Indian farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety but later withdrew the case. In 2021, the Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority revoked the protection granted to PepsiCo stating that the Indian Law does not permit the patent of seed varieties. PepsiCo moved to the Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court, which ultimately dismissed the appeal. In its second attempt, the Divisional Bench reversed the earlier ruling and upheld PepsiCo’s right over the FC5 potato plant variety.

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