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Delhi-HC
Delhi HC Says ‘VISTARA’ Deserves to be a Well Known Mark

The Delhi High Court (HC) has recently restrained Pilot 18 Aviation Book Store, an aviation studies web portal, from permanently selling and trading products with the ‘VISTARA’ mark. The Court strongly believes that ‘VISTARA’ is worthy of being declared as a Well Known Mark. It has also directed the owner of the web portal to pay a compensation of Rs. 2 lacs to the operator of Vistara Airlines, Tata Sia Airlines Ltd.

The ruling was directed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice, Prathiba M Singh, in the lawsuit filed against the defendant by the plaintiff, Tata Sia Airlines. The plaintiff had taken the case to Court after coming across the fact that the defendant was offering various things like badges, mugs, name tags, etc., with the ‘VISTARA’ mark in an identical device mark or logo form. Moreover, the items were being sold on many E-commerce portals, including Snapdeal and Amazon.

In the complaint filed, the plaintiff stated that the ‘VISTARA’ mark was registered in many jurisdictions like in India, Singapore, etc. Additionally, the plaintiff also claimed that the defendant wrongfully asserted that they were supplying branded aviation products with the mark ‘VISTARA’ to the airlines. On the other hand, the defendant contended that it had never used the trademark and even said that the plaintiff had concocted a fake story. However, the defendant’s claim was found to be false as the Local Commissioner came across a large number of items with the mark ‘VISTARA’ in the inventory of the defendant. The Court recorded that the defendant’s statement was a ‘grave misstatement’ in the face of the Commissioner’s report. Furthermore, it asserted that the defendant was not just selling products with mark ‘VISTARA’ but also with the names of various other airlines, including Air India, SpiceJet, and Jet Airways as well.

According to the Court, merchandise of products with the name of various airlines not only violated the Trademark Rights of the parties involved but also posed a threat since some unauthorized people could have entered into the airport based on counterfeit merchandise illegally bearing the trademarks of the respective airlines.

The Court also stated that the mark ‘VISTARA’ is quite famous in India as it has acquired a unique status and enjoys an enormous reputation in the travel, airline, and tourism industry. The Court further said that the use of this mark in any other unrelated services would create immense confusion and deception in the minds of people. Because of all this, the Court believed that the defendant was liable to be permanently injuncted from using the ‘VISTARA’ mark and had to pay the monetary damages as well.

Consequently, the owner of the web portal agreed that he had made a false statement in the Court and regretted doing the same. The question of ‘further action’ against the owner will be taken in the next hearing. Nevertheless, the Court has ordered the defendant to pay Rs 2 lacs (monetary damages) to the plaintiff within one month from the date of order.

Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property Protection in App Development

With the world economy becoming more globalized and highly connected by the Internet, plenty of apps developed in recent years have achieved tremendous success. It won’t be wrong to say that app development is in its ‘golden era’ right now. However, while developing a new app, a person needs to acquire Intellectual Property (IP) Protection to safeguard the app from the issues of piracy, theft, or infringement. Usually, the owner seeks protection from various forms of Intellectual Property like copyrights, trademarks, and patents, depending on the app and its applications.

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT (NDA)

Developing or creating an app is not a task implemented by a single person as it involves a lot of brainpower and mental aptitude. In most cases, you would probably need to hire a freelance app developer having the appropriate technical skills to build something extraordinary and productive. But how will you ensure that they keep the project and its details confidential or don’t steal the idea after helping you out? The answer is by signing a non-disclosure agreement before the developer starts working on the app. A non-disclosure agreement or NDA is a legal contract signed between two people stating the information that will be shared between them along with the confidential information that they will not share with other people. Such an agreement offers aid to the owners by enforcing others to remain silent about the app developed. By including this agreement, the owners can retain their ownership of the app developed.

PATENT PROTECTION

If the developed app has something novel, innovative, and useful to offer along with the commercial potential for sales, the owner can file a Patent Application for seeking Patent Protection on some aspects of the app. While the software is not always something that can seek protection, there are other parts involved in the process of app development, which possibly can. It often depends on how the person has created the app as well as on the encapsulation of different methods to build something new. The legal IP authorities may also grant patent protection to the hardware necessary, such as to play the app, which will protect the invention and promote its commercial sales.

TRADEMARK REGISTRATION

The brand name and its image become the prime link between the owners and their customers. Therefore, while developing an app, the owners must protect their identity with Trademark Registration. A trademark registered for the name or logo of the app will create a brand for the owner by giving him the exclusive rights to prevent other traders from using the same or similar app name or logo. However, the developer must ensure that the name or logo selected for the app doesn’t infringe the IP Rights of any other app developer. The developers should follow proper clearance procedures before applying for trademark registration.

COPYRIGHTS

Depending on what the owners are seeking to protect, they can also acquire Copyright Protection for the specific or printed words used in the app, including stories, dialogues, to name a few. Other related works used in the application like the artistic works can also receive copyright protection as long as the software is not a part of it. Copyrights also protect the source code that goes behind the software used in creating the app. Source codes are a set of human-readable computer instructions executed to run the app on the desired platform. They meet the standard for copyright protection as they are an original work of ownership designed by the developer in a tangible medium.

BOTTOM LINE

Developers and business owners who either create apps on their own or hire independent creators must keep in mind that the apps developed are valuable assets of Intellectual Property. Like any other assets of a business, apps must also be maintained and protected. Smart business plans and strategies, along with sound advice on how to protect these assets, enhance the reputation of any business in the marketplace, and potentially monetize the creative ideas.

 

Food and Beverage
Protection of IP in the Food and Beverage Industry

Protecting Intellectual Property (IP) in the food and beverage industry covers everything ranging from producing the ingredients, creation of recipes, labeling, and going all the way to marketing and branding of the finished or final products. Various forms of IP including, trademarks, patents, industrial designs, and trade secrets are relevant to the food and beverage sector and can prove to be extremely beneficial to the companies of this industry when they become successful.

TRADEMARKS

A trademark could be any word, phrase, logo, symbol, or a combination of these which uniquely identifies and further distinguishes the source of origin of the goods and services of one party from another. There are various roles that a trademark plays in a company or an organization, and all of them are crucial in leading to the success of any business. In the food and beverage industry, a trademark is a valuable and significant asset. It helps the customers in choosing the food products according to their needs. For instance, the customers are aware of the fact that if they are purchasing a drink with the label ‘Coca-Cola,’ then they are buying a carbonated non-alcoholic beverage.  Similarly, when the customers come across the label of ‘Berrywhite,’ they know that it is an organic drink made from berries and contains fewer additives. Moreover, the customers don’t need to read the ingredients every time they buy any food product.

Trademarks provide all the essential information about a product to the customers, including its commercial origin, value, and use. Once a trademark becomes well-known, the owner can not only prevent others from using the trademark but can also restrict them from using similar marks. For example, in 1972, Coca-Cola had sued Gemini Rising Inc., for selling posters with “Enjoy Cocaine” which were way too similar to the Coca-Cola trademark.

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS

Industrial Designs protect the overall appearance of a product. In the food and beverage industry, industrial designs apply to the packaging of the product (either bottle or the entire packaging), and the shape of the product like that of a Toblerone chocolate bar. Protection of industrial designs not only prevents other companies from using the same packaging or bottle but also restricts them from using a similar container or packaging. If another person or company comes up with a product having minor changes making it appear similar to your product, such a competitor would be infringing your Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Therefore, protecting industrial designs goes beyond direct copying. Additionally, any person or company planning to launch a new design of a bottle or a chocolate bar must ensure that the design is unique, novel, and possesses an individual character.

PATENTS

Patents are the exclusive forms of IP granted for the inventions and discoveries in all fields of scientific and human endeavors. It is very likely for a new food mixture or a recipe of a beverage to seek Patent Protection in the food and beverage sector. However, the food or drink must be new, non-obvious, and useful, and adequately explained in the Patent Application. A Recipe falls under patentable subject-matter and is protectable either by defining it as a new and useful process or as a composition of matter.  For instance, a soft drink is a composition of matter, while the steps involved in making it can be patented as a new process. The monopoly of patent rights is the broadest among all other IP Rights. If another company slightly modifies a recipe by either adding or removing an ingredient, it is most likely to infringe your rights, and you can take legal action against the competitor offering such a product.

TRADE SECRETS

Another form of IP actively used in this industry is trade secrets. A trade secret is any process, formula, or practice, which is not generally or reasonably known to others. Usually used to protect the recipes of food items and beverages, trade secrets offer an economic advantage to the business owners in the food sector. The most common example of a beverage recipe protected by trade secrets is of Coca-Cola, invented in 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton. However, nowadays, it has become much harder to keep a trade secret as a good chemist is capable of disclosing the ingredients of any drink or food item by doing analysis and running a few tests. Therefore, companies in this sector should invest in higher IP Protection by filing a Patent Application for the same.

BOTTOM LINE

IP Rights play a crucial role in the food and beverage industry if the owners wisely make decisions in managing their IP Portfolio. Since the manufacturing and preparation of food items is getting cheaper day by day, going close to zero marginal costs, the consumers must be provided with unique and new products having individual labels and designs. Therefore, the owners must consider the needs of their customers and then invest in the intellectual creation of novel and attractive food products.

apple-news
Apple’s New Patent Hints Face ID on Mac

The U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently granted a new patent to Apple titled ‘Presence Sensing’ which details a smarter and better version of Face ID along with an auto-wake feature. As per the reports, MacBooks in the future could feature the face ID technology, presently found in iPhones, with some added features to make the usage even more convenient.

FACE ID TECHNOLOGY ON MAC

Besides unlocking the device, the new Face ID technology is likely to perform two additional features. The new technology on Macs will make sure that the laptop doesn’t go to sleep mode when the person or user is sitting in front of it. In other words, the Face ID will detect the presence of the person sitting in front of it by staying awake. Therefore, the users won’t have to face the hassle of logging in again once the device enters sleep mode. The smarter Face ID could also help the users in performing non-input based tasks on the Mac, such as listening to an audio or reading something. Another exclusive feature will allow a user to sign in to the laptop when its lid is raised or when the user is in front of the device, which is already unlocked. Moreover, this functionality will even work when the Mac is in sleep mode.

Although it sounds like a useful feature, there is absolutely no way of guaranteeing whether Apple will be implementing this feature in the future Mac systems or not. If it does, it will be very much like how Apple loves to add new functionalities and let them work like nothing less than magic in the background.

Apple had introduced the Face ID technology in 2017 with the iPhone X. Last year, Apple extended this exclusive feature to its premium iPad Pro lineup. After the USPTO has accepted Apple’s Patent Application for the same, the idea of Macs getting this biometric feature along with multiple other functions is not a distant dream.

Public-Blockchains
tZERO Wins Patent for TOME Technique to Enable Exchanges on Public Blockchains

tZERO, the global leader in blockchain technology for capital markets, has recently announced that it has been granted a patent for TOME (Time Ordered Merkle Epoch) Technique by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The new patent shall allow data from transactions through private blockchains and traditional trading systems to be immutably anchored on public blockchain ledgers.

The tZERO TOME Patent

The technology behind the new TOME patent will be seen integrating traditional trading systems with blockchain technology. TOME, defined as a base-layer technology, uses digital signatures to record and verify time-series data to include executions, settlements, and trades. With this new technology, incoming trades could be recorded efficiently and quickly in a time-series by producing a hash at any time interval that could then be anchored on a public blockchain. By possessing such a capability, tZERO can substantiate the existence of previous trades. Additionally, it can also produce an auditable and immutable record of those transactions. In a nutshell, the technology behind TOME empowers low-latency systems to incorporate the traditional matching engines along with the private blockchain ledgers, to be immutably anchored to public blockchains.

tZERO, a technology firm established in 2014, aims to use blockchain innovation for transforming Wall Street and wants to support and improve market integrity. Since its origin, the firm has pioneered the endeavors to carry out more efficiency and transparency in the capital markets through the perfect blend of blockchain innovation. tZERO has expressed that TOME, in collaboration with another framework, previously patented by the firm, shall empower linkage of the settlement of tokenized blockchain stored securities on a public blockchain, with legacy trading systems. The company even claimed that the system would offer valuable functionality to trading venues and exchanges along with the regulators for audit purposes, needed to report the trading activity.

Remarking on the development, the CEO at tZERO, Saum Noursalehi, stated that the technology would also be licensed to other companies in different fields that wish to maintain a tamper-proof record of time-series-based data.

 

Plagiarism
How can Intellectual Property Plagiarism harm your Business?

In today’s highly competitive business arena, business operations and activities should be executed legitimately for protecting the brand’s entity and reputation. Copying something which a person doesn’t own is an illegal offense. As a business owner, a person may face various legal and corporate penalties. Additionally, the government may impose a ban on the products sold by the owner or his company, leading to the loss of customers.

Usually used with writing works, research submissions, and academic papers, plagiarism is not limited to writing pieces. If a person has spoken about something and you use it as it is, then it would also fall under the category of plagiarism. Therefore, it is advisable to all the students, business owners, corporate experts, and even public speakers to stay aware of this issue.

PLAGIARISM GOES BEYOND WRITTEN WORKS

The most common example of plagiarism includes copying a blog. Website owners and bloggers very often face this issue when people copy their posts and use them on their websites. However, this is just a typical example of plagiarism, and there are scenarios of other types as well. In the business environment, plagiarism is a day-to-day issue that entrepreneurs face. Going through an example would clear this thought to a great extent. Suppose that a person has a brand of perfumes and is all set to launch a new scent. One of his competitors gets a sniff and launches an identical product before the real owner. Such a situation would cause damage to the owner’s product even before it had reached the potential buyers. Counted as an illegal act, business owners can’t copy or steal the ideas of another person or company. At times business owners aren’t even aware of this aspect, but in other cases, they may also copy the ideas intentionally for saving their efforts.

How Can Plagiarism of Intellectual Property Cause Damage to your Business in an Unprecedented Way?

It takes a long time for any business to build or establish a positive reputation. Moreover, with one wrong move, the built reputation could vanish in a fraction of second. In the past many years, a lot of businesses have eventually shut down after unauthorized copying or stealing of Intellectual Property (IP). If people copy or steal your ideas for their benefit, it results in the infringement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

Some key negative factors attacked with intellectual property plagiarism are as follows:

  1. GUARANTEED LOSS OF TRUST

If we ever look at the market sector in any category, we will find out that there are only a few brands which capture the entire market.  For example, if a person wants to buy a pair of footwear, he would rely on a limited number of brands because these few brands have a more trustworthy image than the others. If you copy or steal ideas that are already being used by another person or company, then people would eventually stop trusting your brand. Consumers around the world are of the view that if a brand doesn’t have something unique to offer, then it is not dependable. Therefore, if you are copying or stealing any idea, product, or even an offer, customers would stop believing in you, and your products. Even a small concept copied can create several problems for a brand. Counted as a severe issue, plagiarism of Intellectual Property executes long term damages for a brand.

  1. FACING LEGAL PENALTIES

Business operations and activities don’t run without legal rules and regulations. The companies which are a part of the corporate world must abide by these rules. Violation or infringement of these rules lead to legal penalties and in the worst scenarios could also result in the companies barred from carrying out their business operations. Plagiarism of IP by any means isn’t a small case of violation. Therefore, business owners who are involved in such crimes have to pay legal penalties.

  1. NEGATIVE REPUTATION IN THE LONG RUN

Plagiarism of IP is a sign of immense unprofessionalism. It damages the business interests of a company that owns the original thoughts and ideas. Every customer in the market expects to get unique products and services. If a brand sells copied products, it loses its trust among the buyers immediately. It is a matter of fact that yes; once a brand loses its reputation, it becomes almost impossible to regain it. Therefore, the brands and business owners should never copy ideas to prevent their corporate reputation from tarnishing forever.

 

mcdonalds-Supermacsa-Trademark
Supermac’s wins Second ‘Mc’ Trademark Dispute against McDonald’s

McDonald’s has recently lost the exclusive ownership of the ‘Mc’ trademark on some of its products within the European Union (EU) after losing another battle to Supermac’s, the global fast-food giant. According to the judgment issued at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), McDonald’s no longer exclusively owns the right to use the ‘Mc’ prefix for a whole swathe of food areas. However, the EUIPO has also ruled that McDonald’s can legitimately continue to use the ‘Mc’ trademark on chicken nuggets and some of its sandwich products across the EU.

The decision follows a complaint made by Supermac’s to the EUIPO stating that McDonald’s never used the ‘Mc’ prefix in a standalone sense, but only in combination with other words to brand their products and services. This year, in the beginning, Supermac’s had also won its long-running dispute against McDonald’s by having canceled the use of the Big Mac trademark. In that judgment, the EUIPO stated that McDonald’s failed to prove the authentic use of the Big Mac trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.

Pat McDonagh, Supermac’s founder, and Managing Director reacted to this latest ruling by saying that the decision has marked a victory for small businesses. He further added that McDonald’s tried to argue by saying that the term Mc was so synonymous with them, that they had the right to own and trademark Mc. At last, McDonagh stated that the fast-food giant is delighted for having the EUIPO ruled in their favor.

The latest EUIPO decision revokes McDonald’s automatic trademark rights to the use of the ‘Mc’ trademark on a long list of food items related to foods prepared from meat and poultry products (except chicken nuggets), eggs, cheese, milk, pickles, milk preparations, to name a few. The revocation also applies to many other food items and beverages like biscuits, cakes, cookies, coffee, oatmeal, pastries, along with the restaurant services.

In its recent submission, Supermac’s asserted that the trademark should officially be revoked with effect from five years following the date of registration since it was not put to veritable use by McDonald’s in connection to the majority of the products and services listed at the time of registration process.  McDonald’s contested this statement by filing several written observations and evidence for proving the fact that it had made use of the trademark corresponding to all of the registered goods and services, except for oatmeal.

As per the ruling of the EUIPO, since both firms had succeeded in some parts of the case and failed on others, they must bear their costs.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s stated that the EUIPO upheld the EU registration for its ‘Mc’ trademark standing alone for various core menu items that McDonald’s uses corresponding to its widely-known ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks. He further added that the decision would never have an impact on McDonald’s ability to use the ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks or other trademarks across Europe and around the world and McDonald’s shall continue to enforce its rights. Lastly, he said that McDonald’s considers the family of the ‘Mc’ prefixed trademarks among its most valuable assets and consumers across the globe recognize these trademarks with the exceptional quality offered by them.

 

PATENTS
Types Of Patents In The US

Patents protect the discoveries and inventions, which are novel, non-obvious, and useful. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues three types of patents, namely utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The eligibility criteria for these patents vary as they protect a specific type of invention. However, a single invention can have more than one type of Patent Protection available for it. For instance, if an individual wants to protect not only the design but also the functional features of the invention, then he would have to file two Patent Applications (for a design and utility patent).

UTILITY PATENTS

According to the USPTO, a utility patent is the most common type of patent that people seek, and 90 percent of the patents are utility patents. This type of patent covers machines, processes, compositions of matter, and manufactures, which are non-obvious, new, and useful. Processes refer to the technical or industrial processes involving new methods of doing something. Compositions of matter are chemical compositions involving new chemical compounds or a mixture of ingredients. Machines include things like a computer, whereas manufactures include manufactured products or items.

Protection for utility patents is available for 20 years from the date of application. In addition to the initial fee paid at the time of patent filing, the owners must submit a maintenance fee throughout the life of the patent to ensure its protection. Extensions in the term of patent protection are available for the owners who wish to protect their inventions beyond the 20-year mark. However, they are only available in certain circumstances and for specific utility patents.

Utility patents help in preventing unauthorized users from manufacturing, selling, distributing, or using your invention. Additionally, once you have filed the patent application for a utility patent, its immediate status would change to “patent-pending,” which will further act as a disclaimer until the patent is formally issued.

DESIGN PATENTS

A design patent protects the aesthetic and ornamental appearance of an object. Protection of the design patents is available for the appearance, shape, configuration, or general ornamentation of an object. Design patents can prevent others from manufacturing, selling, or using the appearance of your product or object. For obtaining this type of protection, it is imperative to note that the design must be inseparable from the object. However, the design patent shall only protect the design and not the object. For protecting the structural or functional elements of an object, a person must file for a utility patent as well.

Protection of design patents is valid for 14 years from the date of application, and unlike utility patents, no maintenance fee is associated with design patents.

PLANT PATENTS

Plant patents protect the invention of asexually reproduced plants. They require asexual reproduction for proving the fact that the applicant can reproduce the plant. For obtaining this type of patent protection, the plant must not be a tuber propagated plant, i.e., an Irish potato. Additionally, the plant must not be uncultivated. Plant patents, like the utility and design patents, must also be novel, and non-obvious. Protection for plant patents is available for 20 years that doesn’t include any maintenance fee. Hybrids, sports, and mutants are a few examples that own the plant patents.

Patent
World’s First Patent Applications Filed for Designs Created By AI

Scientists at the University of Surrey have successfully filed the world’s first Patent Applications at the patent offices of the US, UK, and EU for the inventions created using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The applications filed on behalf of an AI inventor called Dabus (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience), is a machine that used AI to design two products. If the patent applications get accepted, it will be the first time a machine is recognized as a creator by the Patent Offices. However, presently the UK Patents Act of 1977 along with the European Patent Convention, grant ownership of patents only to “natural persons.” In the US, patent applications filed must be the inventions made by an “individual.”

Seeking Clarity on the Intellectual Property (IP) Laws Prevalent Globally

The applications filed by a group of scientists at the University of Surrey for the machine-designed patent was led by Ryan Abbott, who is the professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey. Abbott stated that the applications filed will seek clarity on the surrounding Intellectual Property laws and rules of AI-generated inventions. According to the reports, Abbott will be seen filing a further Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. This application will allow him to seek Patent Protection for the designs in a large number of countries.

Patents Should Recognize the Achievements of AI Developers

The machine named Dabus has created the products of a food container that can change shape, and a flashing light designed to attract attention in an emergency. Stephen Thaler, who is an AI expert living in Missouri, created Dabus. He used images and words for teaching the machine on how to produce complex items.

By filing these patent applications, Abbott is hopeful about the fact that people and machines will get the appreciation and credits for their work.

Legal IP Laws Don’t Allow Inventorship to AI Systems

No country across the globe has IP laws specifying how such cases should be handled. While AI has been a creative force since quite a long time now, it has never been credited as an inventor of a patent. In a report on inventorship in inventions involving AI activity presented to the European Patent Office (EPO), the deputy head of the centre for commercial law studies at Queen Mary, University of London, Noam Shemtov, stated that the current legal system doesn’t allow AI systems to be considered as inventors. He also thinks that the same won’t change in the future as well.

Patent Applications filed on behalf of Dabus are currently pending in the US and elsewhere.