“Disturbing Trend” Of Long Interim Orders In IPR Suits

The issue of long and delayed interim orders attracted the Supreme Court’s (SC) attention in a Petition challenging an order passed by the Delhi High Court in march this year (In M/S. INTEX TECHNOLOGIES (INDIA) LTD. & ANR.  VERSUS M/S. AZ TECH (INDIA) & ANR).

The Apex Court noticed that the order, despite being an interim order was a decision based on the merits of the case. The respondents had filed the suit seeking a permanent injunction against the appellants restraining them from using the mark “AQUA‟ in respect of mobile phones / cellular phones.

It was held by the court that improper and unexplained delay, particularly in IPR cases is fatal to an application for an interlocutory injunction.

The court notes that the interim order is virtually a decision on merits of the suit. According to the Court this is a disturbing trend which the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court should take note of. The SC has ordered the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court to report  total number of pending IPR suits, in the following manner:

  1. Divided into different categories;
  2. stage of each suit; and
  3. the period for which injunction/interim orders held/holding the field in each of the suits.

The Registrar General of the Delhi High Court will also indicate to the Court a reasonable way of ensuring  speedy disposal of the suits involving intellectual property rights which are presently pending.

 

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Working of Patents being reviewed by the DHC

The Delhi High Court (DHC) is currently hearing a Writ petition related to working of patents in India and in an interim order has observed that there appears to be non-compliance issues with respect to this highly debated provision.

Section 146, Rule 131 of the Patent Act empowers the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications (CGPTM office) to call for information in a format set out in Form-27 prescribed under the Patents Rules, 2003 regarding the working of Patents in India. Failure to comply with the statutory requirement invites penalties and criminal action under Section 122 of the Patent Act which includes imposition of fine as well as initiation of criminal proceedings.

Some major Court observations are as follows:-

  • PATENTEE NON COMPLIANCE: The Annual Report 2012-13 of the CGPTM Office indicates failure of several patentees to conform to the requirements of even submission of statements of working and also that very few patents are actually worked.

“(i) Working of Patents (under Section 146): The Patent Office received 27946 Form 27 during the reporting year, of which 6201 were shown to be working.

 

  2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Patents in force 37334 39594 39989 43920
Form-27 received 24009 34112 27825 27946
Reported as working 4189 6777 7431 6201”
  • LICENSEE NON COMPLIANCE: The Patent Act makes it mandatory not just for patentees but also licensees to submit statements of working, however no such information with regard to the licensees are published in the Annual report of the CGPTM office. A glaring observation is that there is non-compliance of the requirement even is case of patents where a compulsory licence has been granted. The vital case of Bayer vs NATCO which led to the first CL being granted in India to M/s NATCO Pharma also does not have any submission by the Licensee which has further repercussions such as withdrawal of the CL.

  • CG OFFICE IN ACTION: The DH Court also observed that CGPTM office are not taking any action for notional or incomplete compliance with the provisions related to this Section 146 of the Act.

The court clearly stated that- “The license holders are also required to file the information in Form-27 as a patentee.” Further, the details of the licenses and sublicenses certainly cannot be termed “confidential” and  therefore, the Patents Office has to treat such suppression as failure to comply with the requirements under the Patent Act, 1970 and to take action against those who have thus failed. There can be no exemption from statutory compliance and that in case any query in the prescribed Form could not be complied with, the person submitting the Form need to state so.

The Court also directed the CGPTM office to submit the status of the amendment of the rules and the action which was earlier proposed with respect to the statement of working.

With the 31st March annual due date for submitting the working statement for the last financial year is approaching, the Patentees and License holders should be careful in preparing and submitting information regarding working amidst the above developments.

 

“Hot tubbing” for expert witness by the DHC

The Delhi High Court (DHC) in the Micromax Vs. Ericsson case, based on the suggestions exchanged by the parties and considering the procedure adopted by the Federal Courts in Australia and in the United Kingdom, would be adopting the “hot tubbing” procedure to facilitate appreciation of expert technical evidence, in a shortened procedure.

The Court may devise a slightly modified hot tubbing procedure for the present case, considering the facts of the case.

 

 

IPO as ISA – the progress so far

The Indian Patent office (IPO) has published an update on India’s progress as an international searching authority. As per the report, the number of Applicants choosing India as a searching authority is on a rise. From 123 in 2013, the count rose to 711 in the year 2015-16 and 940 in 2016-17. (Period from 31st March to 1st April).

In fact, more than 50% of Indian Applicants in year’s 2015-16 and 2016-17 have chosen India as the searching authority. The reason for this steep increase could be reduced cost, or the availability of the option of applying for expedited examination of the Indian National phase application. Applicants choosing India as the searching authority (ISA) or IPEA are eligible for expedited examination of corresponding national phase application in India. The examination report in such cases are being issued within 2 months from date of request of expedited examination and the final decision in respect of the application is taken within three months from date of reply by the Applicant.

 

Mobile App for intellectual property rights

Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks has launched the official Mobile APP for intellectual property rights. The application can be downloaded from Intellectual Property India website, www.ipindia.nic.in or from Google playstore.

The application is an information dissemination tool of the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks. The current version includes the information with respect to : Patents Office, Designs Wing of Patent Office, Trade Marks Registry, Geographical Indications Registry, Copyright office, Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry & Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management. The Application provides various tools to know about the Application status, Patent & Trade Mark register, relevant Acts & Rules etc.

Ericsson files 5G Foundation patent application

Ericsson has filed its 5G Foundation patent application with WIPO (worldwide) and USPTO (US). As per Ericsson’s website “The patent application, which combines the work of 130 Ericsson inventors, is the largest in cellular communications in terms of number of inventors, anywhere in the world. It shows the industry how Ericsson has approached 5G standardization with a comprehensive view that connects individual inventions in a complete 5G telecommunications network, rather than focusing on any smaller individual inventions.

The patent application contains all details required to build a complete 5G network, from devices, the overall network architecture, the nodes in the network, methods and algorithms, and also shows how to connect all this together into one fully functioning network. The invention is believed to have a huge impact on industry and society as it will provide low latency with high performance and capacity. This will enable new use cases like the Internet of Things, connected factories and self-driving cars.