No Copyright Protection For Work Registrable Under The Designs Act

In Holland Company LP & Anr. vs. S.P. Industries, order dated July 27, 2017, the Delhi High Court, held that no copyright protection is available for work that is registerable under the Designs Act.

The plaintiff, Holland Company LP claimed to have a copyright over the industrial drawings of the ATL (a system for securing cargo containers to a support) and spare parts thereto.

The defendant, S.P. Industries outbid the Plaintiff in a tender floated by the Eastern Railway, Sealdah Division for carrying out repairs, replacement of spare parts and servicing of the defective parts of the ATL devices. Hence, the Plaintiffs instituted the suit for permanent injunction before the Delhi High Court for restraining them from reproducing the ATL spare parts in 3-D form, from the 2-D artistic work of Holland Company LP in the form of the industrial drawings.

The Plaintiffs claimed that a combined reading of Section 2(c), Section 13(1)(a) and Section 14(c)(i)(B) of the Copyright Act, 1957, shows that a copyright exists in engineering drawings/technical drawings under the category of Artistic Works, which includes the exclusive right to depict the drawings in three dimensions. Further, the Designs Act, 2000 is not applicable on the industrial/engineering drawings and technical drawings, as the present devices are functional in nature.

Whereas the defendant argued that industrial/technical drawings are not an artistic work and, therefore, no copyright exists and the same are capable of being registered under the Designs Act, 2000.  Further, according to Section 15 of Copyright Act, 1957, no copyright exists in any drawing or design once the production has been done more than 50 times by an industrial process using such drawing or design. Moreover, the Plaintiffs cannot have exclusive right over said drawings as said drawings have been published and readily available.

The Court held as follows:

  • A conjoint reading of Section 2(d) of Designs Act, 2000, Section 14(c) and 15(2) of the Copyright Act, 1957, makes it amply clear that where a design of an article is prepared for the industrial production of an article, it is a design and registrable under Designs Act and under Section 14(c), the author of such design can claim copyright, however, since such a design is registrable under the Designs Act, and if such design has been used for production of articles by an industrial process for more than 50 times by the owner of the copyright, or, by any other person with his permission, then such person ceases to have copyright in such design.
  • ……Plaintiffs had prepared the engineering drawings for the purpose of production of ATL devices. The industrial drawings are, therefore, or a design of the ATL device which the Plaintiffs had supplied to the Railways under a contract given to them by the Railways. The drawings of the ATL devices of the Plaintiffs, therefore, are registrable under the Designs Act. The said drawings have not been registered under the Designs Act. The Plaintiffs have also not disputed the fact that while using these engineering drawings, it had used for more than 50 ATL devices by an industrial process and, therefore, it is clear that it has used these engineering drawings for more than 50 times in an industrial process. By virtue of Section 15(2) of Copyright Act, therefore, even if assuming the Plaintiffs had a copyright in these engineering drawings, it ceases to have the same.
  • “…The Plaintiffs have not made the Railways a party to the suit although in the facts and circumstances of the case it is a necessary party because prima facie it is the Railways who have used the engineering drawing of the ATL devices for inviting tenders…

Held:

For being entitled to interim injunction under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2, the Plaintiff is required to show a strong prima facie case which means the Plaintiff is required to show that it has a right which needs protection. The Plaintiffs have failed to show any prima facie case in their favour. In the light of the same, the application of the Plaintiffs under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 CPC stands dismissed.

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PATENT APPLICATIONS INVOLVING BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES FILED IN INDIA

The National Biodiversity Authority grants permissions to patent Applicants using Indian Biological resource in their inventions for obtaining Intellectual Property Rights. There are several patent applications filed in this category and are pending before the Indian Patent Office.

The National Biodiversity Authority has recently clarified that all such patent applications which are pending but were filed before 1st July 2004 i.e. when the Biological Diversity Act and Rules came into force, would be exempted from taking permission from the National Biodiversity Authority.

The Indian patent office can therefore now clear all the back log for those biological resource involving applications which were filed before aforementioned date and have been awaiting grant but have been withheld only for the sake of pending permission from the National Biodiversity Authority. More clarification with respect to the applications filed after 1st July 2004 is still awaited for speedy grants and permissions.

SC stays the order of the Delhi High Court declaring Section 24(5) of Plant Variety Act void

The Supreme Court (SC) of India has stayed the order of the Delhi High Court  declaring Section 24(5) of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 void.

Stay tuned for a detailed post!

Applicants can correct inadvertent errors by fixing them in time

The Petitioner sought quashing of the “deemed to be withdrawn” status of the application No. 5272/DELNP/2008 under section 11B and sought restoration of the said application and for proceeding further with the same. The Petitioner also sought direction to the respondents to correct the clerical/typographical error in the number of the Patent application in request for examination and other documents to read as 5272/DELNP/2008 instead of 6272/DELNP/2008.

According to the Delhi High Court (DHC) (M_S._Iritech_Inc_vs_The_Controller_Of_Patents_on_20_April,_2017 ), applicants can correct inadvertent errors, provided that they are fixed in time. It was held that –

when the error in Form 18 was an apparent clerical error… and… the request for examination was filed within the 48-month period and even the request for correction of the clerical error was made prior to the expiry of the period of 48 months and prior to the application for grant of patent being deemed to have been withdrawn… the action of the Respondents in deeming the Indian National Phase application No. 5272/DELNP/2008 as deemed to be withdrawn, is set aside.

The court interpreted the provisions of Section 78 relating to the power of the controller to correct the clerical error and held that:

Section 78 of the Act, inter-alia, empowers the controller to correct any clerical error in any patent or in any specification or other document filed in pursuance of such application or in any application for a patent or any clerical error in any matter which is entered in the register. The correction can be made either upon a request in writing made by any person interested and accompanied by the prescribed fee, or without such a request.

The ruling further states that –

Since there is no form prescribed by the Act or the Rules for seeking correction under Section 78 of the Act, even a letter would be sufficient. The petitioner along with the letter had enclosed the corrected Form 18 and the corrected covering letter. The request was made prior to the expiry of the period of 48 months. The requisite fee was also paid thereon. There is no reason as to why the Respondents should not have considered the same.

In view of this, The “Deemed to be withdrawn” status of the application was accordingly quashed.

A new era in India: Patent granted within 9 months of requesting examination

Indian Patent Office (IPO) has now started granting patents under expedited examination system (Rule 24C of the Patent Amendments Rule 2016) within 9 to 12 months.

One such patent granted is IN2885091 for “A PROCESS FOR THE PREPARATION OF APIXABAN“. A request for expedited examination was filed on 24th October 2016 and the same was converted into an expedited request on 21st March 2017. A patent has been granted to Optimus Drugs Private Limited within 9 months of filing of request for examination and 4 months of converting it into an expedited request, on 12th July 2017. The other factual details are as follows:-

 

Method of hair removal- not a method of treatment

The IPO has allowed claims directed to method of removal of hair considering such method to be a cosmetic method resulting only in improvement of the appearance of the skin. The claimed method was considered as not resulting in treatment or enhancement of economic value of the subject as compared to the conventional methods, therefore not falling within the ambit of section 3(i). The order can be found here.

Indian Patent Office Gives CRIs a New Lease of Life

New CRI Guidelines Introduced

The patentability requirements and examination criteria for computer related inventions has been under scrutiny in major jurisdictions of the world. Considering the special nature of this ever evolving field there have been discussions and changes as well as interpretations of legislation on how best to protect this fast-paced innovation where each invention has a short life. The advent of AI, big data and internet of things has further brought new challenges into the forefront requiring clarity of how to apply the law and protection mechanisms to inventions in these high tech fields. The latest guidelines released by the IPO are a forward and welcome step in this direction.

Initiatives by the IPO

In India specifically, there has been increasing interest in both software products and services. There has been growth in the industry as well as the market for ICT products. The Indian ICT sector has several Indian as well as MNC R&D Innovation centres and is a hot bed of innovations. Consequently, this has led to an increase in patent filings and has resulted in initiatives by the IPO in the form of examination guidelines for CRI. In the past few years these have gone through a lot of changes.

The guidance for examining software related inventions were first introduced in the ‘Manual for Patent Practice and Procedure’ in 2005. It underwent several changes in different versions of this manual released thereafter in 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2013, a separate draft set of guidelines apart from the manual was released dedicated only to the examination of computer related inventions. These were revised in 2015, but were soon put in abeyance with a new set replacing them in early 2016. However these seem to have been released under pressure since the SFLC had written a letter directly to the PMO complaining about the “unfair” protection offered under the 2015 guidelines. These guidelines could not hold water since they were against the legislative intent and had been formed without giving much thought. Since then, after extensive deliberations and several stakeholder meetings, the latest guidelines have recently been released on 30th June 2017 .

Major Changes

The guidelines of 2016 had placed the presence of “novel hardware” as a patentability requirement for software related inventions. One of the major changes brought about in the latest version is that this requirement has been removed as it was clearly against the intention of the legislature. Apart from that all examples of non-patentable inventions which were earlier given have been removed. It has also been clarified that systems for encoding, reducing noise in communications/ electrical/electronic systems or encrypting/ decrypting electronic communications shall not be regarded as mathematical methods and shall be considered patentable

What Remains the Same

As before, the guidelines focus on the substance of the claims over the form in which they have been worded. They also direct that for means + function claims, the means are to be defined with physical constructional features along with reference numerals to enhance the intelligibility of the claims. The structural features of those means are also to be disclosed in the specification. Guidelines for algorithms and business methods are also retained as is

Scope for More

However, technical effect and technical advancement have not been defined and neither have these terms explicitly been mentioned as patentability criteria. Suitable examples would have also been beneficial to aid understanding and clearly differentiate between what is patentable and what is not