Top 10 Landmark Judgements of Intellectual Property Rights Law covering Trademark, Copyright, and Patent Law
BY: ANIRUDH AGRAWAL
- Bajaj Auto Limited Vs. TVS Motor Company Limited 2008(36) PTC 417 (Mad.)
In the instant case, there was a patent dispute subsisting for over two years between two countries involved in a dispute for using twin spark plug engine technology.
Looking at the pendency of appeals relating to Intellectual Property Rights cases in Indian courts, J. Markandey Katju speaking for himself and J. Ashok Kumar Ganguly directed all the courts in India for expeditious disposal of cases involving trademarks, patent and copywrights. The Supreme Court also directed the judgement should be given within four months from the date when the suit was filed. The Supreme Court also directed to all the courts and tribunals in the country to punctually and faithfully carry out the aforesaid orders.
- Bayer Corporation and ors. V. Union of India and ors. 162(2009) DLT 371
In this interesting case, Bayer Corporation attempted to link the case of patent infringement to granting marketing approval of a drug made by Cipla. This concept of Drug-Patent Linkage is present in USA. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi pronounced there is no Drug Patent Linkage mechanism in India and only the Controller of Patents has the authority to determine patent standards. It was also held that mere market approval of a drug does not lead to patent infringement and the jurisdiction of which does not lie with Drug authorities.
- The Coca-Cola Company Vs. Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd Manu/DE/2698/2009
The Hon’ble Delhi High Court held that if there is a threat of infringement, then this court would have the jurisdiction. It was also held that the exporting of goods from a country is to be considered as sale within the country from where the goods are exported and the same amounts to infringement of trade mark.
In this case, Bisleri Ltd. had sold the trademark MAAZA including its formulation rights, know-how, IPR and goodwill for India through a master agreement. They applied for registration of TM MAAZA in Turkey and started exporting fruit drink with the same name. It was held by the court that the intention to use the trade mark besides direct or indirect use of the trade mark was sufficient to give jurisdiction to the court to decide on the issue. The court finally granted an interim injunction against the defendant (Bisleri).
- Novartis v. Union of India Civil Appeal No. 2706-2716 of 2013
Novartis filed an application in the instant case for patenting an anti-leukemia drug i.e. Glivic. But the same was rejected by the Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs. He filed a case before the appellate board and when he couldn’t get any relief, he appealed to the Supreme Court directly through SLP.
The Supreme Court held that Novartis failed to meet the requirement of novelty. And also thereby failing to qualify for the test of invention as provided for under in section 2(1)(j) and section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act, 1970 as a result of the various publications and disclosures already made about the beta crystalline form of the compound used in the drug, Imatinib Mesylate. Further the court decided to interpret efficacy as laid down in section 3(d) of the Act on lines of therapeutic efficacy and not merely physical efficacy. It held that though physical efficacy of imatinib mesylate in beta crystalline form is enhanced in comparison to other forms. But since there was no substantive and conclusive material and evidence to prove that beta crystalline form of imatinib mesylate will produce an enhanced or superior therapeutic efficacy, Novartis failed to meet the requirements under Section 3(d) of the Act. The Supreme Court went with the therapeutic efficacy interpretation over physical efficacy owing to the fact that the compound was of medicinal value.
- Snehlata C. Gupte vs Union of India & Ors. (W.P. (C) No 3516 and 3517 of 2007) Delhi High Court
The question when the patent was considered to be granted under the Patent Act was decided in this case. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court held that the date on which the Controller passes an order to that effect on the file, noted that the language, “A patent shall be granted as expeditiously as possible” (u/s 43) point out that a patent has to be granted once it is found that the application has not been refused in a pre-grant opposition or otherwise is not found in contravention of provisions of this Act.
- Eastern Book Company and others v. DB Modak and another [(2008) 1 SCC 1].
Appellants were involved in the printing and publishing the law report “Supreme Court Cases”. The original Judgments were copy-edited by a team of assistant staff of the Appellant and various inputs were put in the judgments and orders to make them user friendly by making an addition of cross-references, standardization or formatting of the text, paragraph numbering, verification and by putting other inputs. Respondents published these judgements through their softwares on CD-ROMs.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court on this issue upheld interim relief to the plaintiff-appellants given by the Delhi High Court and directing that though the respondent-defendants shall be entitled to sell their CD-ROMS with the text of the judgments of the Supreme Court along with their own head notes, editorial notes, they should not in any way copy the extra content apart from the original judgement given by the Supreme Court.
- G. Anand v. Delux Films and Ors. AIR 1978 SC 1613
The Appellant R. G. Anand wrote and produced a play called ‘Hum Hindustani’ in 1953 which received huge success and was re-staged numerous times. Appellant narrated the entire play ‘Hum Hindustani’ to the Respondents. Appellant had elaborate discussions regarding filming the play in January, 1955. However, no further communication was made to the Appellant post the discussion. However the respondents proceeded to make the film and appellant filed a suit claiming copyright infringement. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held- There exists no copyright in relation to an idea, subject matter, themes, plots or historical or legendary facts. Infringement is restricted only to the form, manner, arrangement and expression of the idea by the author of the copyright work. The Court should settle on whether the similarities are substantial or fundamental in nature or not with respect to the mode of expression adopted in the work. If substantial or fundamental portion has been copied, then it would amount as infringement. The other reliable test to ascertain whether there is an infringement or not is to analyse the impression created on the spectator or reader subsequent to reading or watching the works (Lay Observer Test).
- Yahoo!, Inc. vs Akash Arora & Anr. 78 (1999) DLT 285
Plaintiff was the owner of the trademark ‘Yahoo!’ and domain name ‘Yahoo.Com’. The Defendants used the name ‘Yahooindia’ for similar services which was opposed by the Plaintiff.
The Hon’ble Delhi High Court held- The principle underlying the action for passing off is that no man is entitled to carry on his business in such a way as to lead to the belief that he is carrying on the business of another man or to lead to believe that he is carrying on or has any connection with the business carried on by another man. The court reiterated “When a defendant does business under a name which is sufficiently close to the name under which the plaintiff is trading and that name has acquired a reputation and the public at large is likely to be misled that the defendant’s business is the business of the plaintiff, or is a branch or department of the plaintiff, the defendant is liable for an action in passing off.” Injunction was granted in favour of the Plaintiff.
- Kaviraj Pandit Durga Dutt Sharma v. Navaratna Pharmaceutical Laboratories AIR 1965 SC 980
Respondent firm was founded in 1926 under the name of “Navaratna Pharmacy” later changed to “Navaratna Pharmaceutical Laboratories” in 1945. Appellant carried on business which involved preparation of ayurvedic pharmaceutical products under the name of “NavaratnaKalpa Pharmacy” and had been vending medicines prepared by him under the name of “NavaratnaKalpa”. The Appellant applied for the registration of “NavaratnaKalpa” as a trademark which was successfully opposed by the Respondent.
The matter reached the Hon’ble Supreme Court which observed- In an action for infringement of a trade mark the onus would be on the Plaintiff (Respondent) to establish that the trade mark used by the Defendant (Appellant) is deceptively similar. This has to be done by a comparison of the two marks. Where the similarity between the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s marks is so close either visually, phonetically or otherwise, the Court reaches the conclusion that there is an infringement. No further evidence is required to establish that the Plaintiff’s rights are violated.
- Indian Performing Rights Society V. Eastern Indian Motion Pictures Ltd AIR1977 SC1443
IPRS incorporated on 23/08/1969 in the state of Maharashtra governed by Copyright Act 1957 has the authority for issuing licenses for performance in public of all existing future Indian literary and music works for which the copyright subsides in India. IPRS claimed that it is entitled to royalty in case the literary work used in cinematograph films is broadcasted on radio stations as they claimed themselves to be assignees of the literary works and laid down a tariff for the same. The association of cinematograph exhibitors opposed to the same saying that IPRS has absolutely no rights over these works and that the production house was the real owner of copyrights over the literary work in question since composer loses his rights under contract of service between production houses especially when there is a consideration involved.
Appeal was preferred to the Supreme Court after the High Court decision which allowed claim made by the cinematographers association.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed-The cinematograph film producer becomes the first owner of the copyright in case he commissions a composer of music, a lyricist, for reward or for a consideration to compose music to be incorporated in the cinematography film as the composer is employed under contract of service. Section 17(c) of copyrights act 1957 lays down that the proprietor becomes the absolute owner in cases of contract of service for valuable consideration unless there is an agreement contrary to it. IPRS cannot claim royalty as the production house has the right over the composition the moment it comes into existence. In this case the producer of the cinematograph film becomes the absolute owner and the authority cannot be questioned.
Anirudh Agrawal is a student pursuing B.A.LL.B from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and is an acquisitive learner and writer.