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IPR weekly Highlights (32)

8 (Demo)
TRADEMARK
BHARATPE & PHONEPE AMICABLY RESOLVE THEIR TRADEMARK DISPUTE

The two India-based Fintech entities BharatPe and PhonePe have reached an amicable settlement with respect to their long-standing trademark dispute over the ‘Pe’ suffix, thereby bringing an end to over five years of their legal battle. In 2021, PhonePe’s request for an interim injunction was refused by the Delhi High Court on the grounds that firstly, the term ‘Pe’ is a generic and common abbreviation for ‘Pay’ in the digital segment and could therefore not exclusively be owned by a single entity. Secondly, the two brands are distinctive and they serve different consumers; PhonePe caters to individual consumers, while BharatPe focuses on merchants. Thirdly, the evidence presented to show consumer confusion was insufficient.

With the present settlement agreement, the two companies, have acknowledged the generic nature of the brands and have agreed to make minor adjustments in their branding strategies to avoid any potential consumer confusion.

Further, they have agreed to withdraw all oppositions against the other in the trademark registry, in order to enable the two to register their respective marks, and to take all the necessary steps required to meet the obligations under the agreement in respect of the cases pending before the Delhi and Bombay High Courts.

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TRADEMARK
NIKE’S PARTIAL VICTORY OVER ADIDAS

A German Court has approved Nike’s use of three stripes on some of its trouser designs in Germany. This marks the second appeal of the US sports apparel giant against the decision of the Duesseldorf regional court which had prohibited Nike from using two or three stripes on five of its designs in response to the trademark violation suit filed by Adidas in 2022. Pursuant to the recent decision, Nike is now permitted to use the stripes on four of the disputed models, while the ban on one remaining model continues to persist.

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TRADEMARK
DIAGEO WINS BULLEIT BOURBON TRADEMARK APPEAL

The liquor giant Diageo has successfully persuaded the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the ban on W.J. Deutsch’s Redemption’s use of a bottle design, which was found to be deceptively similar to Diageo’s Bulleit bourbon packaging. The liquor company had sued the Connecticut-based Deutsch company in 2017 for creating the same “vintage style and appearance” as Bulleit’s, in order to leverage their reputation for commercial success. In response to the suit, a jury in 2022 determined that the similarity in the bottles diluted the distinctiveness of Bulleit’s bottles.

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PATENT
WIPO TREATY ON IP, GENETIC RESOURCES, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

Existing patent legislations lack any mandatory provision for patent applicants to disclose the country of origin from where the invention has based its genetic resources. After two decades of negotiations, and with collective support, the WIPO treaty on intellectual property, genetic resources, and associated traditional knowledge has been adopted with the consensus of more than 150 countries. Pursuantly, in applications where an innovation claimed is based upon traditional knowledge linked to genetic resources, all parties concerned shall oblige applicants to identify the local community or Indigenous Peoples that contributed the customary knowledge. Thus, the treaty obliges every patent applicant to disclose the nature of origin or the source of genetic materials.

India played a crucial role during these negotiations. It was the only country to prepare a detailed paper on the subject of the treaty negotiations. Consequent to this treaty, the contracting states will have to make amends in their existing legal framework for enabling aforesaid disclosures in patent applications.

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PATENT
PATENT PROTECTION FOR GOA’S PIONEERING “COCOBOT”

In Goa, initially, the traditional coconut harvesters climbed tall trees for harvesting. In a revolutionary movement, The Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-CCARI), along with Goa University, introduced “Cocobot,” an autonomous fruit-picking machine explicitly designed for Goa’s abundant coconut crop. This machine is operated from the ground along with a camera and a robotic arm to locate and collect coconuts. It is estimated that this technology can harvest approximately 12-15 coconuts per hour. This machinery is viable for other crops as well such as nuts.

Recently, in May 2024 Cocobot was granted a patent. The patent acknowledges the collaborative efforts of Goa University’s and ICAR-CCARI’s thus, granting them a substantial royalty percentage for their roles in developing and commercializing Cocobot.

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COPYRIGHT
YUVRAJ SINGH INVOKES ARBITRATION FOR VIOLATION OF PERSONALITY RIGHTS

The famous Indian cricketer has invoked arbitration against developer M/s Brilliant Etoile Private Limited for violation of his privacy rights by making unauthorized use of his brand value. Yuvraj Singh had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the developer for the endorsement of a real estate project. The MoU which was signed in November 2020 had expired last year. However, the developer continued to commercially utilize the services provided by the cricketer during the validity of the agreement, post its expiry, by showcasing his photographs on billboards, project sites, social media posts, and articles. The sportsman has claimed infringement of his right to publicity, personality, and copyright.

In addition to the grievances concerning his intellectual property, he has also alleged a breach of the Agreement to Sale by the developer for failing to adhere to the timeline and delivery schedule, compromising the structure’s quality by using substandard material, downgrading the quality of the finishing and furnishing of the apartments, and significantly escalating prices above the existing the market rates.

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COPYRIGHT
INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS TO BLOCK ROGUE WEBSITES

Recently, the Delhi High Court ordered the blocking of multiple rogue websites illegally streaming and enabling downloads of the crime series ‘Undekhi’. The decision was delivered as a result of a suit filed by the producers of the series, Applause Entertainment Private Limited. The series was telecasted on Sony LIV on 10th May, 2024. However, it was leaked and made available for download on numerous rogue websites.
Considering the gravity of the issue, the court directed the blocking of these websites. Additionally, it permitted the producers to submit applications to the Joint Registrar pertaining to any other websites found undertaking similar activities.

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COPYRIGHT
WARNER BROS SUED BY BRITISH ACTOR FOR UNAUTHORISED USE OF HIS VOICE

Recently, Marc Silk, a British actor sued Warner Bros for unauthorized features of his voice. The Sorting Hat is a part of the “Harry Potter” series that tells students which house they will join. In 2007, Silk provided the voice of the Sorting Hat with Warner’s approval for a U.K. company’s planned animatronic toy.

Silk informed the court that in 2021 he learned that Warner had been unauthorizedly using his voice in other contexts, like theme park attractions and different Sorting Hat toys. Further, he stated that he had only given consent to use his voice in the original animatronic toy. Thus, in the instant suit, Silk has claimed compensation from Warner Bros for infringing his rights.

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COPYRIGHT
‘MANJUMMEL BOYS’ MAKER RESPONDS TO ILAIYARAAJA’S NOTICE

In an interesting turn of events, the music maestro Ilaiyaraaja has sent a legal notice to the Manjummel Boys makers for unauthorized use of the song ‘Kanmani Anbodu’ that originally featured in the movie Guna. Reacting to the news, one of the producers Mr. Shawn Antony clarified in an interview that the song has been used in the film only after acquiring the legal rights from the two-music labels that held the legal copyrights of the song. Further, he added that they have acquired the rights to use the song in Tamil as well as all other languages it had been released in.

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TRADE SECRET
HDT & EMCURE RESOLVE THEIR LEGAL DISPUTE

The Indian generic drug maker Emcure Pharmaceuticals and U.S. vaccine developer HDT Bio have reached a settlement regarding the alleged theft of trade secrets of their joint work on the COVID-19 vaccine. The lawsuit filed by HDT in Seattle, alleging the same, had claimed that Emcure’s subsidiary Gennova Biopharmaceutical’s use of its licensed technology and subsequently filing for a patent over the same, amounted to theft of its licensed technology. The company had also sought $950 million worth of damages from Emcure.

The companies have now buried the hatchet and have decided to embark on a long-term collaboration for the development of mRNA-based vaccines. This marks the end of their pending litigation in the United States and arbitration in the United Kingdom.

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