Strategies For Geographical Indications Protection: Takeaways from India

Abstract: The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GIGA) embodies the availability of both civil and criminal remedies in the scenario of infringements. However, multiple difficulties hinder the effective enforcement of the legislation; for instance, Section 50(4) of the GIGA stipulates that the complaints have to be filed before an officer in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) or equivalent. This is a practical concern as it is relatively difficult for local farmers and artisans to have easy access to an officer of such a high rank. Besides that, Section 66 of the Act, which provides that suits for infringement have to be filed in a court not inferior to that of a District Court, is also troubling, as most of the GIs in India are located in rural areas, which in most cases are away from the district headquarters. Travelling this far for conducting the litigation and hiring a lawyer of the District Court for that purpose is an additional financial burden for most of the producers.

Even after two decades of the enactment of the GIGA, there is still an evident lack of awareness about the law among the public. A comprehensive GI policy covering aspects such as mapping potential products, speedy registration process, post-registration monitoring, and brand building is yet to be developed. In light of these issues relating to enforcement, this research paper examines some of the positive measures adopted in foreign jurisdictions that may be imbibed in India for better GI protection. The nature of GI protection in jurisdictions such as the European Union, France, the United States, and China is comparatively analyzed with the Indian situation to suggest possible takeaways for India.


Authors: Ananthu S Hari is a Doctoral Research Scholar at the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. The author may be reached at ananthushari@gmail.com.

Prof. (Dr.) K.D Raju is a Professor of Law at Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. The author may be reached at kdraju@rgsoipl.iitkgp.ac.in.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Penalty of ‘Compulsory Licensing’: A Derogation from Patent Protection to deter the Misuse, as Patent & Antitrust Law Interfaced

Abstract: The article discusses the specifications of ongoing tension between patent law & antitrust, as far as it is concerned with the imposition or grant of compulsory license as a penalty or remedy, while simultaneously throwing light on the scope & means to harmonize the same. While the room for an interface between the two subjects could be big, the author has deemed it appropriate to discuss the same only in light of the application of compulsory license.
The author explains what the term compulsory license in theory means, and how it looks in practical application. Throughout the article, it will be visible that the implementation or litigation around the concept is not as simple as it sounds in theory, rather it comes out in different faces, which are contradictory among themselves, and being as such, it makes the analysis complex. Different cases with varying facts give rise to contradicting results & therefore the author in the article has not provided a precise one-sided conclusion.
The author begins the analysis by discussing the jurisprudence of interface, and moves on to appreciate various rights which impliedly vest with the patentee on account of the exclusive patent holding. The author further, through the discussion on various patent power-violations that we usually come across, warns of the cautious enjoyment of the exclusive right to the patent, within the ambit of patent law strictly, as not to violate the well-known antitrust principles.
The analysis in the article on the practical implementation of compulsory license is largely derived from the jurisprudence of the US, as in other jurisdictions including India, the concept has largely survived in theory only.


Author: Lubhanshi Rai is an Associate at Indo Legal Services LLP, and a graduate of Amity Law School, Delhi. The Author may be reached at lubhanshi97@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Copyright’s Tryst with Tattoos: Navigating Issues of Ownership, Bodily Autonomy and Publicity Rights

Abstract: Copyright law has never failed to modernize itself to meet the rapid pace of technological development and welcome into its fold, every new medium of expression. Yet, the conceptualization of the ancient art of tattoos as copyrightable works presents before it a daunting challenge involving the most unique medium ever encountered – the human body. The nature of tattoos creates a situation where the rights of the copyright owner stand heavily conflicted with the rights of the individual who forms the medium for these works. Confronted with this clash, academics have been forced to ask the question of whether tattoos should be granted copyright protection at all. This article explores the question of copyrightability of tattoos within the Indian legal regime. It analyzes the implications of the overlaps between the rights arising out of copyright, bodily autonomy and the right of publicity on celebrities engaged in the sports and entertainment industries. The author disagrees with the notion that copyright over tattoos must necessarily be denied in order to preserve an individual’s autonomy. Arguing in favour of a schematic division of rights between the tattoo artist and the individual bearing the tattoo, the article asserts that it is possible to reconcile the various rights without having to defeat copyright law or jeopardize individual autonomy.


Author: Adyasha Samal is a B.A. LL. B. (Hons.) graduate of the Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur. The author may be reached at adyashasamal@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

The Rising Indispensability for International Commercial Arbitration to Resolve Intellectual Property Disputes

Abstract: Intellectual Property (IP) is globally recognized as the driving force behind diverse economies. While IP transactions and cross-border investments are constantly advancing, one cannot fail to notice the dramatic worldwide influx of IP disputes. There is substantial ambiguity while deciding whether certain issues concerning IP can be considered by arbitral tribunals. Hence, declaring a conclusive statement about whether IP disputes should be adjudicated by the court or through arbitration is not always deemed as an easy attempt. IP arbitration has been gaining immense global recognition with the constant game of tug-of-war between rights in rem and rights in personam. Specialized IP arbitration can be considered by the disputants as an alternative to a court litigation when faced with multijurisdictional complications or while drafting related agreements. Nonetheless, the question of whether an International Commercial Arbitration (ICA) as an option, is indeed fit for the proposed purpose, must be acknowledged. The paper garners information from diverse sources with an attempt to explicate a comprehensive study on the arbitrability of IP disputes. The author attempts to ascertain a historical synchronicity between ICA and IPR, and the dire need for the application of commercial arbitration to decide matters of IP. Additionally, the paper draws a connection to the legal upshots of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The objective of this study is to subserve discussion and to highlight the most significant aspects of IP arbitration that need to be considered by parties to the dispute and their respective counsels.


Author: Athith Pradeep is an advocate working with Majmudar & Partners and is an editor for The Competition & Commercial Law Review with a BBA., LL.B (Business Law Hons.) degree from the School of Law, Alliance University, Bengaluru. The author may be reached at atheeth.pradeep@ymail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Copyright Blockchained: Exploring the Possibilities and Challenges of Blockchain Implementation in the Copyright Realm

Abstract: The rapid advancement of information and technology has posed some serious challenges to intellectual property rights. Copyright is one such right which is facing difficulty in coping with the rapid rise and evolution of the internet. In this Internet era, copyrightable works are being extensively made and transformed into various digital platforms which has on the one hand opened up a significant market for a wide variety of artists to showcase their artistic talent to the world. On the other hand, it has posed some serious challenges in terms of copyright infringement and digital piracy that results in loss to the owners of the copyright, both in terms of money and reputation. Lack of control over the internet, difficulty in locating the source of infringement and ease of replication and modification of the content makes it difficult for the copyright holders to enforce their rights. The Digital Rights Management has failed to provide satisfactory protection to copyright holders in the online world. However, the advent of blockchain technology has certainly raised hopes of getting an effective solution to check copyright infringement in cyberspace. Blockchain is a software protocol which helps in storing information within digital blocks which are tamper proof and time stamped, making them immutable from backdating. Blockchain technology has gained widespread recognition with the introduction of cryptocurrency. Application of smart contracts to Blockchain further strengthens its reliability and security. This article aims to present a descriptive analysis of the concept of blockchain, its functioning and how its unique features including smart contracts could help in securing copyright content, creating more transparent licensing procedures through smart contracts and enforcing the rights of the owner of the copyright in the digital arena. The article shall also look into instances where blockchain technology is being used to secure copyright protected works on the internet and discuss the challenges in implementing this technology in respect of copyrightable works.


Author: Mayank Tyagi is a Research Scholar at the Faculty of Law, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. The author can be reached at mayanktyagi92@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Geographical Indications: Catalysing India’s Journey Towards Becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’

Abstract: 12th May, 2020, marks an important day for India. On this day, the Government of India announced an economic package named ‘Atmnanirbhar Bharat Package’ worth ₹20 Lakh Crores. At the outset, this package was introduced as a respite for the Indian economy which was severely suppressed by the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. But this campaign was never introduced as a temporary relief mechanism. The introduction of this campaign followed a nation-wide ban on Chinese apps and was followed by several import restrictions. Further, the continuous usage of taglines like ‘vocal for local’ makes it clear that the aim of this economic package was widespread and long-term. This campaign, if implemented properly, aims at making every Indian self-reliant. Since its introduction, the campaign has been viewed in light of several legal, social, and political facets. One such facet, which has the potential to bring success to this campaign, would be Geographical Indications. In this paper, the author has weighed the campaign in light of the existing Indian legal regime surrounding Geographical indications. The author has also suggested some steps in the area of GI which, if complied with, can catalyse India’s journey towards becoming Atmanirbhar.


Author: Yashi Agrawal is a 5th Year law student at the Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur. The author may be reached at yashiagrawal@nlunagpur.ac.in.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Trade Secrecy: Another Source of Mayhem in the Covid-Stricken World

Abstract: The R&D industry is the key to mankind’s social and cultural development, and the need to protect its interests cannot be emphasized enough. The present-day health emergency has left everyone helpless and vulnerable to contagion. The only ray of hope has been the pharmaceutical companies and their endless efforts towards developing the treatment for this virus. Still, what if the innovator company decides to hide the process of making the vaccine to exploit its creation fully and be the only manufacturer? Should the human population keep waiting for someone to reverse engineer or find an alternative treatment, or must we let people succumb to the virus? The commercial greed of the companies has the potential to lead us through this path. Trade secrets are such intellectual property that can grant indefinite protection without the requirement of public disclosure. Pharmaceutical companies’ use of trade secrets can lead to disastrous results for the entire world, especially in light of current circumstances.
This article analyses trade secrets, their use and abuse across the world, as well as their position in our country. Towards the end, remedies to the abovementioned and other complications resulting from ignorance of this IP right are presented. Moreover, the efficiencies that are lost while protecting the secret information can be utilized to do away with the pandemic. One such efficiency discussed extensively in the paper relates to the disclosure of test data, even failed ones, to prevent duplicative research and proactively save scientific resources from being wasted.


Authors: Himani Jaruhar is a 4thYear BA LLB student at the National Law University Odisha. The author may be reached at jaruharnluo@gmail.com.

Riya Thawani is a 4thYear BA LLB student at the National Law University Odisha. The author may be reached at riyathawani18@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Indian Ad Tech Industry at Loggerheads with Ad-Blocking: Potential Copyright Violations and Net Neutrality Issues

Abstract: With the ever-rising amount of digital content and desire to garner more audience by delivering content free of cost, digital content creators are resorting to online advertisements to support their work. The ad tech industry, which is the brains behind such practice of ad monetization, has been facing scornful criticism for designing annoying and intrusive ads that are mostly built with tracking cookies embedded in them. Many advertisers, instead of self-regulating, are claiming that ad-blocking amounts to copyright infringement of a content creator’s work and opposes the ethos of Net Neutrality. In this article, the authors contend that legitimate ad-blocking does not amount to copyright infringement and is, in fact, a reasonable traffic management practice on the internet. The article first seeks to shed a light on ad-blockers, their economic significance and relevance on the internet. The article then discusses the potential copyright infringement aspects of ad-blocking software. The article further discusses the tortious interference aspects of ad-blockers and proceeds to address the net neutrality concerns that could arise out of the use of ad-blockers. The last part of the article contains conclusory remarks.


Authors: Mohit Kar is a 5th Year law student at the Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad. The author may be reached at 17ballb44@mnlua.ac.in.

Shreya Sahoo is a 5th Year law student at the National Law University, Odisha. The author may be reached at shreya.sahoo.148@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Can Deep Thought Patent the Earth? Artificial Intelligence’s Tryst with Patent Law

Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are increasingly being used in various fields to generate novel and creative inventions. However, the patent law system has not kept pace with these innovations and consequently there are several unresolved issues with respect to the patentability of inventions generated by AI systems. This essay focuses on two of these issues: the grant of inventorship status to AI systems and the application of the current non-obviousness standard to AI generated inventions. It begins by discussing the developments and the state of the art in the field of invention generating AI systems. It then goes on to analyze the inventorship requirement and examines whether AI systems qualify as ‘inventors’ under the existing patent regime. In this regard it examines the procedural and technical requirements for filing patent applications, the jurisprudential understanding of an ‘inventor’, and the decisions of the few Patent Offices which have dealt with this issue. It cautions against the dismissal of AI patent applications on purely formalistic grounds when the AI systems in question fulfil the substantive requirements for inventorship. It further examines the implications of such dismissals and makes policy recommendations. It then examines the current non-obviousness standard for patentability and argues that the current standard is inadequate for dealing with AI-generated inventions. It concludes by proposing a new standard which substitutes the human PHOSITA with an equivalent skilled AI system, focusing on reproducibility rather than obviousness.


Authors: Arvind Sankar is a 5th Year student at the National Law University, Odisha. He may be contacted at asankar31@gmail.com.

Jitmanyu Satpathi is a 5th Year student at the National Law University, Odisha. He may be contacted at jitmanyusatpathi@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here

Discussing IPR Issues when AI is the Author: A Bird’s Eye Perspective

Abstract: The copyright world skipped a beat when copyright over a selfie taken by a monkey was in question. The final settlement however, was extremely disheartening. It did not take long thereafter for the question of patentability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning or the copyrightability of their creations to be discussed.
This paper addresses the issues relating to AI and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in a categorized schematic manner, while also giving a brief introduction into the areas of their fusion. The first part follows with an introduction to artificial learning and AI. It discusses the extent to which these learnings have developed and where the world’s knowledge about AI is headed. It could be considered as a primer to the reader’s already existing knowledge on AI. This part also talks about various creations of AI which would put their IPR into question.
The second part of this article discusses in particular the copyright influences of AI –comparing its knowledge to that of our existing judicial reviews and research. It portrays the easiest possible way ahead for India, learning from the fellow judicial experience, to encourage AI’s copyrights. The third part is a similar discussion, but from a Patent perspective. It is an interesting amalgamation of discussions dealing particularly with the global experience concentrating on European and American knowledge. The final part of the article concludes this discussion with key takeaways and globally inclusive steps drawing ideas from various conventions.


Authors: Dr. G.B. Reddy is a Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad. He has authored two books and eleven articles on different aspects of IPR, his primary area of research focus. He is currently the co-ordinator of the Osmania University Centre for Intellectual Property Rights and Patent Facilitation Services, in addition to being the CIPAM IPR Chair. He may be contacted at gbredlaw@gmail.com.

Ms. Sai Bhavana Vemuri is a graduate of DSNLU, Vishakhapatnam, and holds an LL.M in Technology Laws from O.P Jindal University, Haryana. She has worked on various IPR based research projects in association with JIRICO and MHRD IPR Chair-IIT Madras among others. She may be contacted at saibhanav@gmail.com.

The full text of the article can be found as a PDF here.