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Royal Enfield
Flash Electronics Files Lawsuit in the US against Royal Enfield Alleging Patent Infringement

Flash Electronics India, a manufacturer of electrical and electronic auto components, has filed a lawsuit in the US against Royal Enfield, an Indian motorcycle manufacturing brand, for Patent Infringement corresponding to the production of an electronic component. According to the lawsuit filed, the two-wheeler maker, Royal Enfield, has infringed Flash Electronics’ patent on its essential component called regulator rectifier and its method for regulating an output voltage of the same device. This device converts the Alternating Current Voltage produced in motorcycles into Direct Current Voltage to charge batteries, control the headlights, and light up the instrument board, driving the motorcycle’s electrical frameworks.

Flash Electronics India further claimed that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had duly issued the patent for its product on February 20, 2018, after its research and development department had invented the component in 2014. Since then, the company has been the major manufacturer and supplier of this essential component to many widely-known manufacturers in both India and abroad.

Sanjeev Vasdev, Flash Electronics’ founder and managing director, stated that Flash Electronics is a capable and experienced member of the automotive community, manufacturing highly advanced engineering items since decades and is well-known on a global automotive front for its powerful in-house R&D capabilities. He further added that the company has been one of the most trusted suppliers to famous manufactures crosswise over India and abroad, and it’s appalling to deal with such an unforeseen act on the part of Royal Enfield, a standout amongst the most renowned names in the automotive industry. Moreover, he even admitted that this incident is exceedingly offensive and has scratched the credibility of the brand, at least with them as a partner. He also claimed that the company was approached by Royal Enfield’s three senior officials on October 12, 2018, to resolve the issue amicably by not filing any suit on the matter. Although Flash Electronics waited for the outcome of this meeting, Royal Enfield didn’t do anything to address the issue. According to Vasdev, the company will now take all the necessary action required all over the world to make sure that Royal Enfield quits infringing their patent and pays remuneration for the infringement. He likewise urged other component manufacturers to be careful on this sort of ruthless conduct.

No comments from Royal Enfield could be immediately obtained on the same.

Flash Electronics has been granted the patent in many other countries besides the US like Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Spain, Austria, the United Kingdom, to name a few, and the company would be seen filing similar lawsuits in the respective jurisdictions in the coming future.

Huawei
Huawei Trademarks its own Mobile OS after US Ban

Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology company, files Trademark Registration of its own operating system (OS) “Hongmeng” for use in at least nine countries and Europe that can replace the Android OS in their smartphones, and other devices. This move comes after the US government imposed a ban on Huawei that prevents the Chinese company from dealing with American companies. The ban implies that people who use Huawei phones and devices around the globe won’t receive Android OS updates, which would have an adverse effect on the company’s business and reputation in the consumer market. As Huawei is the world’s second largest manufacturer of smartphones, the US ban could position the company in jeopardy.

Huawei has filed the trademark registration of its “Hongmeng” OS in many countries like Cambodia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, besides Peru and the European Union, as per the data from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

However, the US administration doesn’t seem to relax its ban imposed on Huawei. Some state department officials have also stated that the technology company won’t be able to proceed further without the support of US companies. The US may also try and exert influence on some of its friendly nations, including the European Union, not to engage in any trading with Huawei.

As per the allegation, the Chinese company might have few connections with the Chinese government and that its OS might be used for spying. However, Huawei has denied such accusations.

Though it is a matter of fact that yes; Huawei has not been very successful in obtaining the registration of its “Hongmeng” OS trademark. For instance, in Peru, the country’s antitrust agency, Indecopi disclosed that it had asked for some additional details about the OS from Huawei to which the company has not responded in nine months.

It may take some time for Huawei before the “Hongmeng” OS gets the required clearances to update their smartphones with the proprietary OS.

Protecting IP
Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual Property (IP) theft refers to stealing or using someone else’s intellectual property without permission, which can be a commercial innovation, a new method having economic value or a distinctive mark like a logo, symbol, name used for commercial purposes. For instance, if someone knowingly uses, copies, or steals a logo belonging to another firm or individual, it would be considered as intellectual property theft.

For What Reason Does Intellectual Property Theft Occur?

Intellectual property theft occurs because it’s too easy, quick, cheap to commit, and highly profitable. Thieves often rationalize it as a victimless crime and are able to gain profits by copying someone else’s work, idea, or product without actually doing anything. They are least concerned with the consequences of unauthorized use ranging from robbing the original owners of their livelihood to damaging the business name and reputation. Several defenders of the IP theft are of the view that the very concept of intellectual property is theft. They strongly believe that ideas and innovations should always be free, and nobody should have the exclusive right to own information. Next is the concept of patent trolls. Very often, these individuals or businesses are seen not making anything of their own but rather buying licenses to patent their copied works so that they can sue others for infringement. IP pirates mostly come from foreign countries like China, South Korea, Russia, Vietnam, to name a few. Although offline violations can still be investigated with the help of standard methods, tracking them online is the toughest.

What Are The Types Of Intellectual Property Theft?

1. COPYRIGHT THEFT:

Copyright theft is most commonly and generally seen among published materials, computer software, movies, recorded music, computer software, to name a few.

2. TRADEMARK THEFT:

Trademark theft most commonly occurs when a person uses any other business’ symbol, logo, or name, which is unique to their brand identity.

3. PATENT THEFT:

Patent theft most commonly occurs when a person copies someone else’s patented invention without the owner’s permission or licensing.

How Can IP Be Protected From Theft?

Protecting IP from theft actually depends on which type of IP a person is trying to protect as each type has different levels of protection under the law. In a few cases, infringement of IP is even considered as a criminal offense.

For any type of intellectual property that is stolen, the first step generally involves drafting and sending a cease and desist notice. This letter lets the IP thieves know that they need to stop using or stealing your intellectual property.

The cease and desist notice must specify:

  • The intellectual property infringed upon.
  • The type of infringement.
  • The action required to deal with the infringement.
  • The time period for response and amendment

If the cease and desist notice turns out to be ineffective, then the case of IP theft can be handled in courts, where the owner fighting infringement can obtain:

  • An injunction commanding the other person to stop using the IP.
  • Compensation for losses.
  • Punitive damages.

How Can IP Be Protected From Theft?

Under IP Laws, the legal consequences of IP theft and infringement can result in harsh penalties like:

1. Several years of imprisonment.
2. Huge fine.
3. Seizure of stolen property.
4. Loss of license.
5. Lawsuits filed by the victim to recover monetary damages.
What Are The Defenses To IP Theft?

When accused of IP theft, the following defenses may help you from not being charged with a crime:

1. Lack of intent, where the accused person of IP theft did not knowingly attempt to steal or use the intellectual property for gaining profits.

2. Lack of ownership rights, where the plaintiff does not have Intellectual Property Protection to sue the accused for infringement.

3. Unclean hands defense, where the plaintiff was engaged in some kind of wrongdoing in the lawsuit filed itself, like waiting for a long time before suing even after coming to know about the Intellectual Property Infringement.

4. Fair use clause, where the person accused of IP theft could claim that the intellectual property was used under the fair use clause. Though very complicated, this defense would benefit only after taking help from an intellectual property attorney.

trademark Name
Supreme Court Allows FUCT Clothing Brand to Keep Vulgar Trademark Name

The US Supreme Court struck down a provision of Federal Law on June 24, 2019, that prevented official owners from registering their trademarks perceived as scandalous or immoral by handing a victory to FUCT, a clothing brand founded in Los Angeles.

Designer Erik Brunetti wanted Trademark Registration for his fashion brand FUCT, but the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declined to register the brand name by citing a section of the Lanham Act also known as the Trademark Act established in 1946, which prohibits registration of trademarks consisting of immoral or scandalous matter. According to the USPTO authorities, FUCT was a total vulgar name. Brunetti argued by saying that this section of the Trademark Law was unconstitutional and also stated that his brand name FUCT is pronounced letter by letter. The brand’s bio on Twitter reveals that FUCT stands for “Friends U Can’t Trust.” As the Trademark Office turned down Brunetti’s trademark registration, he took the dispute to the highest court and legal system in the US.

In the opinion released at the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan asserted that the fashion brand name is pronounced as four letters, in one go, one after the other. She even added the fact that one might read the name differently as a swear word, and in that particular case, the person might hardly be alone. She also referred to the brand name as the equivalent past participle form of the widely-known F word of profanity. Moreover, she further mentioned that as per the most fundamental principle of free speech law, the government can never penalize or discriminate against ideas which are based on ideas and opinions.

This ruling was decided by a blend of liberal and conservative justices.  Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh were all in favor of the trademark registration of the brand name.

Brunetti’s lawyer, John R. Sommer, stated that though the Supreme Court and many Americans are indeed very uncomfortable with Brunetti’s trademark, the question is whether any government gets to impose its opinion about what is moral and wise and suppress them if found distasteful. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered an opinion which was partly dissenting and partly concurring by stating that the Supreme Court’s decision will beget unfortunate results in the future and the government won’t have any statutory basis to decline the registration of marks having the most vulgar or obscene words or symbols.

Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual Property Rights – Key to Success of Startups

In today’s global innovation economy, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are a valuable asset for startups as they drive creativity leading to better delivery of products and services for their consumers. While initially, all startups have indispensable demands and priorities, protection of Intellectual Property (IP) often gets neglected, mostly because of the high costs involved. However, Intellectual Property is a crucial asset for a startup on its journey to success.

WHY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IS CRUCIAL FOR STARTUPS?

Conducting a preliminary search for IP Portfolio Management Services like Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Industrial Designs, Domain Names, and so forth, can give startups an idea about the possibility of success of their underlying business model. For instance, if a similar or identical trademark, patent, or design forming the key basis of their business model is already registered, then startups are in a better position to assess their business model and make modifications, if required, to avoid any future conflicts.

The simplest way in which a startup can succeed by giving competition to its rivals is by patenting its inventions and ideas. When a startup patents its ideas, its valuation increases, and the innovators are adequately rewarded. Startups can also take commercial advantage of its patentable ideas. Furthermore, investors are likely to acquire a startup whose Intellectual Property Rights are well protected. Hence, patentable ideas are vital to the success of startups and are also prevented from being copied by rival entities.

By protecting their IP assets, startups can prevent themselves from future conflicts and litigations. Intellectual Property Rights also create legal security for startups and allow them to channel their resources towards business development. A well-planned strategy for IP protection can successfully protect the business models of startups from being copied.

Moving ahead of the legal aspects, IP is also an intangible asset that can be monetized and can offer aid in challenging times. For monetizing IP, there are various avenues like selling, franchising, or earning royalties from IP assets, which can give startups an edge in the competitive market. By implementing strong IP protection schemes, startups will find themselves in better positions with respect to pricing their goods and services. The strength of the startups’ IP portfolio management services also influences the investor’s decisions while raising funds.

HOW STARTUPS CAN STRATEGIZE TO PROTECT THEIR IPR?

Intellectual Property Rights protect several aspects of a startup including its name, logo, inventions, designs, advertisements, goods, services, and so forth. Therefore, the following strategies must be effectively adopted by startups to protect their IP Rights.

PRIORITIZING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION:

Startups must make an effort to evaluate and give utmost priority to the IP Rights involved in their business model at the very initial stage. Failing to do so will create a wide range of problems for them, especially during the stage of negotiations with investors.

REGISTERING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS:

As registered Intellectual Property Rights carry a greater value, prevent unauthorized use, and act as evidence of use before courts and enforcement agencies, startups must register their IP rights to safeguard their brand’s entity and reputation.

DUE DILIGENCE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS:

It is necessary for startups to ensure that they aren’t violating the IP Rights of any company or an individual to prevent any legal action against them. Therefore, they must be careful with their IP decisions from the very beginning and must conduct due diligence of their IR Rights.

IMPLEMENTING CLEAR AND EFFECTIVE IP POLICIES:

Startups must have an Intellectual Property policy for maintaining their IP rights in the long term to ensure no disputes among their active members, which is one of the main concerns for their failure.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AGREEMENTS:

Having proper documentation in the form of official agreements can make a huge difference in the success or failure of startups. Startups need to ensure that their IP is protected via a proper agreement between them and the third-party. It is highly advisable for startups to enter into licensing or user agreements to secure their IP Rights.

news1
EU Court Rules against ‘Three-Stripe’ Trademark of Adidas

Adidas, a sportswear giant headquartered in Germany, lost a legal battle in the General Court of European Union (EU) to trademark its famous “Three-Stripe” motif. The court ruled that Adidas’ three parallel strips are not distinctive enough to deserve Trademark Protection and also referred to it as an “Ordinary Figurative Mark.” The three-stripe logo of Adidas is seen on its most recognizable products including, running shoes, sports bags, and sleeves of T-shirts.

In 2014, the European Union Intellectual Property (IP) Office had approved the three- stripe trademark of Adidas. However, the trademark was challenged by Shoe Branding Europe, a Belgium-based company, which stated that Adidas’ trademark was not distinct enough. In 2016, the EU Intellectual Property authorities annulled this trademark of Adidas by siding with the complaint filed by the Belgian company.

On June 19, 2019, the General Court of the European Union upheld the 2016’s decision of the EU Intellectual Property authorities and stated that Adidas couldn’t trademark its three-stripe motif. The court also asserted that Adidas couldn’t prove that its three-stripe trademark was distinct enough in the minds of European customers and buyers. It also stated that Adidas had provided evidence of its acquired distinctive character in only five of the total 28 member states of the EU, due to which the trademark, in the present case, can’t be extrapolated to the European Union’s entire territory.

Though Adidas is very disappointed with the decision, it can still appeal the verdict to the European Court of Justice, which is the top court of the EU; however, it only has two months to do so.

 

Blockchain Platform
Farfetch Joins Facebook’s New Blockchain Platform

Farfetch, an online luxury fashion retail platform is joining Facebook’s independent blockchain-based platform known as the Libra Association, and shall soon launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. This technology can be used to authenticate products and will be of great use to the retailer as it sells not only new but also pre-owned luxury fashion products. The Libra Association will begin in the first half of 2020 and will help its customers in dealing with secure, reliable, and scalable cross border payments.

Libra’s mission is to enable a global currency and financial infrastructure, which can empower billions of people across the globe. It will likewise demonstrate to be helpful to users in the third world and developing nations, and to the ones too who right now rely upon services like Western Union to send settlements and payments. This Blockchain-based platform has long been of interest to Farfetch, and the company has been researching its potential applications for the entire luxury industry.

According to José Neves, the CEO of the luxury fashion e-commerce giant Farfetch, such blockchain endeavors will offer a solution to a wide range of fashion industry issues by improving Intellectual Property (IP) and its protection and providing complete transparency in the product lifecycle. He stated that this blockchain-based platform will help in increasing the customers’ expectations for visibility in the origin of the product and its authenticity. He strongly believes that though blockchain is still in its relative fancy, it will very soon assist the fashion industry in scaling solutions to the customer requirements, and shall also deal with the issue of counterfeit goods and services.

This Farfetch, Facebook tie-up, is announced just a month after LVMH, a French luxury goods conglomerate came up with AURA, which is a platform aiming to offer the entire luxury industry with a powerful product tracing and tracking service to verify the authenticity of luxury goods by partnering up with blockchain company ConsenSys and Microsoft. In short, the blockchain-based platform will safeguard the integrity and interests of all brands and shall help the customers in checking the product history and proof of authenticity of luxury goods.

Libra will be managed by Facebook’s Libra Association and being a part of this tie-up, Farfetch will have an equal say in managing the new cryptocurrency

Trademark Law
Myanmar’s Newly Enacted Trademark Law

On January 30, 2019, Myanmar’s Trademark Law, expected for a long time was enacted into law, which establishes the framework for the complete trademark registration system, open to both foreign and local trademark proprietors. Once the administrative structures and enabling legislation to support this system will be in place, the existing trademark holders who have already registered their marks under Myanmar’s old system will have to file a new Trademark Application to secure their rights under the new law.

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES AND OVERVIEW OF THE NEW LAW

Under the new law, Trademark Registration will last for a period of 10 years from the date of filing and can be renewed after every 10 years. Registration will now be on a first-to-file system, rather than the previous first-to-use system. Registered Trademarks may also have an advantage from a right to claim priority from any application within the prior six months filed in a Paris Convention country.

Among several noteworthy changes, the new law also presents criminal penalties for the issues of Trademark Infringement and counterfeiting, which range up to imprisonment of three years with a fine of USD 3,250 approximately. The judiciary is also provided with special powers to set up specific IP courts, however, it is still not very clear if there is any place to implement the same in the coming future.

In addition, the new law also establishes the Central Committee for Intellectual Property Rights, and the Intellectual Property Rights Agency for collectively having the jurisdiction over the registration system of trademarks in Myanmar.

ESTABLISHING THE NEW LAW

As the administrative bodies necessary for the new system are still being established in Myanmar, the trademark applications for registration under the new law are still not being accepted. For the implementation of required regulations and establishment of Intellectual Property Offices, no timeline has been determined. New recordal applications, renewals of existing recordals, and other such trademark declarations are all being still accepted under the old system as of January 31, 2019.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRADEMARK OWNERS

  • Though the procedures and administrative structures for the new system are yet to be in place, the documents required for the trademark application are the same as that of the previous draft. Therefore, the applicants can compile and prepare their documents well in advance.
  • The documentary evidence for new trademark applications consists of a proof of existing recordals with the Office of the Registration of Deeds. As it is still not clear how much importance will be given to these during the examination process of trademarks, the trademark owners are highly advised to make sure that their rights are well recorded and updated.
  • Likewise, the law also makes a reference to provide evidence of use for supporting the application for the trademark. Therefore, trademark owners should collect and combine all evidence of existing use comprising cautionary notices, advertisements, and office stationery.
  • In Myanmar, existing marks which are subject to licensing arrangements should also be audited and examined for updated depictions of the relationships with licensees to avoid any uncertainties.

 

kashish
Intellectual Property Rights for an Emerging Africa

Africa, both in terms of land and population, is the second largest continent in the world with 54 sovereign countries. With a growing labor force and a large consumer market, Africa holds the promise of significant further growth opportunities. Africa’s wide spectrum of cultural, ethnic, geographic, and economic differences has a great tradition of innovation and creativity. Although the main focus in Africa has always been to establish and implement basic Intellectual Property (IP) infrastructure, it has often struggled to realize its full economic potential, and a myriad of challenges need to be addressed. Nevertheless, African economies are now adding value to their creative resources via the IP system to work in support of their economic objectives. It is a matter of fact that yes; innovation and Intellectual Property Rights are slowly but definitely rising up the African policy agenda.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFRASTRUCTURE IN AFRICA

There are two regional organizations promoting Intellectual Property Rights in Africa. One of them is the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) which is based in Harare in Zimbabwe, and the other is the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) which has its headquarters in Yaoundé in Cameroon. ARIPO has a total of 19 member countries mostly from the English speaking part of Africa, and OAPI has a total of 17 member countries mostly from the French-speaking part of Africa. Both ARIPO and OAPI together cover 36 countries in Africa out of 54, however, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa are not their members, which are three of the largest African economies. Both of these organizations work and operate differently. Applications granted by OAPI have a unitary effect in all its member states but this is not the situation in ARIPO, as in their case all member states must sign, and give formal consent to implement protocols.

PAN-AFRICAN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION (PAIPO)

In 2013, the African Union (AU) decided to envisage the creation of PAIPO to complement and supplement the regional organizations of ARIPO and OAPI with the following objectives in mind:

 

  1. Promoting harmonization of Intellectual Property Rights among the member states of AU.
  2. Conducting activities to assist member states in using their IP systems efficiently and actively fighting against the issues of counterfeiting and piracy.
  3. Establishing African common positions on IP issues related to genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and geographic indicators.
  4. Helping to establish and lead African IP positions in international IP negotiations.

As the objectives of PAIPO are not very clear knowing the fact that two regional IP organizations already existed in Africa, this project was not cited in the African Ministerial Conference held in November 2015. This conference stressed on enhancing innovative capacities with dynamic Intellectual Property Rights propelling creativity, and commercialization of Intellectual Property for sustainable growth, development, and well-being of Africans.

CO-OPERATION WITH WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION

Africa’s co-operation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) replaced the project of establishing a new IP agency. The declaration calls upon the WIPO to strengthen its technical assistance which aims at supporting the establishment and implementation of national Intellectual Property based on innovation policies, and in promoting joint initiatives with African Union Commission, regional organizations of ARIPO and OAPI. This co-operation between Africa and WTO will also provide sustainable, cost-effective, and high-quality management, enforcement, and protection of IP Rights to researchers and innovators in Africa.

VALIDATION AGREEMENT WITH THE EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE

A new way of integrating the African markets in the invention world economy was proposed by the European Patent Office (EPO) with the validation agreement. This validation agreement permits the owner of the European Patent granted by the EPO to extend it to a territory which is not a member of the EPO but bound by the validation agreement. The first agreement was signed with Morocco in 2010 and came into force in 2015, and the second agreement was signed with Tunisia in 2014 but has not yet been in force.

Under these agreements, the granted European Patents will not be examined again in the national patent offices’ leading to a larger scope for foreign investments in African countries and invention licensing.

AFRICA’S IP OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES

African economies fall short in the legal enforcement of IP Rights, which results in high online piracy, and an increase in the issue of counterfeit goods. Without this legal enforcement, manufacturers and developers in Africa may not feel much motivated to innovate.

Secondly, not enough people in Africa are registering their IP for protection. For instance, in South Africa, there is an average of 900 Patent Applications filed every month, however, 60 to 70 percent of these applications are filed by non-South African firms and companies.

In Africa, the current local and regional systems to register IP are inaccessible, time-consuming, and very difficult to approach or use.

SOLUTIONS TO IP CHALLENGES IN AFRICA

Despite major flaws and challenges faced by Africa in their Intellectual Property System, African economies are still focused and determined to improve their IP policies and frameworks. For instance, South Africa’s National Treasury in its 2017 Budget Review announced that it would be relaxing IP exchange controls which would make it easier for startups to expand their businesses and seek funding outside South Africa.

As Africa is very rich in traditional knowledge, Kenya also established the Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions Act in 2016 enabling African communities to control, and seek profit from the use of significant cultural knowledge and expressions.

African government and authorities have realized the importance of regularly viewing and updating laws to deal with the current challenges faced by the IP Rights owners. Of course, every law has its own cautions, complications, and counter-arguments; Africa is now at the beginning of a new era in the domain of creativity and innovation, and will probably see some big changes in the IP system in the coming years.