Fitbit and Garmin to be investigated for alleged patent violation, Tata’s patent application on water purifier rejected and more patent news

In this week’s Patent News – Indian Patent Office invites Applications for National IP Awards 2020; RGNIIPM concludes Training Program of 181 newly recruited Examiners of Patents and Designs; Hindustan Unilever scores a victory in water wars with Tata; Volterra LLC files patent infringement suit against Monolithic Power Systems; Sonos files lawsuit against Google Inc. for patent infringement; Illumina files patent infringement suit against BGI in Sweden and U.K; Alibaba tightens anti-counterfeiting and IPR protection; CNIPA publishes revised Patent Examiners Guidelines; European Commission publishes report on Protection and Enforcement of IPR in third countries; EPO and other representatives hold meeting to implement Unitary Patent package; USITC launches investigation against Fitbit and Garmin for suspected patent violation.

India Patent News

Indian Patent Office invites Applications for National IP Awards 2020

The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks has invited the submission of Applications for its annual National IP Awards ceremony to be held later this year. The awards will be presented to top achievers comprising of individual persons, institutions, organizations and enterprises for their contributions in the field of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications, Startups, MSME’s and Enforcement of IPR’s. In addition to this, three WIPO Awards will be presented by the Organization under the WIPO Awards Program, on the same day. The National IP Awards ceremony will be held in New Delhi, on the occasion of World IP Day, on 26th April 2020.

The ten categories under which the awards shall be presented include:

1.      Top Individual for Patents & Commercialization

2.      Top Indian Academic institution for Patents & Commercialization

3.      Top R & D institution/organisation for Patents & Commercialization

4.      Top Public Limited Company / Private Limited Company for Patents & Commercialization in India

5.      Top Indian Private Company (MSME) for Patents & Commercialization

6.      Top Start-up for IP and Commercialization

7.      Top Indian Company /Organization for Designs

8.      Top Indian Company for creating Brand in India and abroad

9.      Top Individual / organization for Best facilitation of Registration of GI and Promotion of Registered GI in India

10.  Best Police Unit (District / zone in a commissionarate) for enforcement of IP in the Country

The last date for submission of the applications is 7th February 2020. For more information, you may click here to access the official notification.

RGNIIPM concludes Training Program of 181 newly recruited Examiners of Patents and Designs

The Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (RGNIIPM) recently concluded the training program for 181 newly recruited Examiners of Patents and Designs, at Nagpur. The six-month training program was exclusively held for Group ‘A’ officers who are now expected to begin discharging their respective duties as Examiners in the Indian Patent Offices located in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Mr. Hoshiar Singh, ITS, Registrar of Copyright & Head, Indian Patent Office Delhi attended the Valedictory program as the Chief Guest. Dr. Pankaj Borkar, Head of RGNIIPM, delivered the welcome address and also congratulated all the Trainee Examiners on completing the program.

Patent Disputes/ Infringements/ Settlements/ Licensing

Hindustan Unilever scores a victory in water wars with Tata

It appears that Hindustan Unilever had a great start to the New Year after the Indian Patent Office, on January 2nd 2020, rejected a patent application filed by the Tata group relating to water purifying technology. The patent application numbered 1572/MUM/2008 and titled “A Water Purifier” was jointly filed by TATA CHEMICALS LTD. and TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES LTD. in 2008 and was opposed by HUL way back in 2011. After hearing both the parties in the matter, the Controller in his decision of 2nd January held that the Claims laid down in the specification lacked inventive step and the invention was obvious to a person skilled in the art.

In 2012, Tata Chemicals was successful at the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in revoking one of HUL’s patents related to water purifiers and purification technology.

Volterra LLC files patent infringement suit against Monolithic Power Systems

Volterra Semiconductor LLC, a subsidiary of Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. has instituted a lawsuit against Monolithic Power Systems in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. According to suit, the MPS DC-to-DC Power Converter products of Monolithic infringe three of Volterra’s patents, namely – U.S.6,362,986, U.S 7,525,408 and U.S 7,772,955. The company is seeking damages and has also requested the court to grant an injunction.

Sonos files lawsuit against Google Inc. for patent infringement

Audio speaker manufacturer, Sonos has instituted a suit in the United States District Court, District of California, against Google Inc. for alleged patent infringement. According to Sonos, Google has infringed about one hundred patents however the company has only instituted a lawsuit concerning five of its patents. The suit was instituted by Sonos on 7th January 2020. The company has asked for a trial by jury and is seeking damages as well as an injunction. According to Reports, the company also intends to sue Amazon for infringement, however, the company could only afford to institute a lawsuit against only one tech giant due to economic concerns.

Illumina files patent infringement suit against BGI in Sweden and U.K

Illumina Inc., an American company engaged in offering sequencing and array-based solutions of genetic variation in the fields of cancer research and agriculture, has instituted a suit for patent infringement against MGI Tech Co. Ltd., and Latvia MGI Tech SIA, a subsidiary of BGI Group. Illumina has instituted the lawsuit in two jurisdictions, namely, Sweden and U.K. In the U.K, the suit has been filed in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Patents Court and in Sweden, the company has instituted the suit in the Patent and Market Court. The four patents at issue, i.e., EP 1 530 578 B1, EP 1 828 412 B2, EP 2 021 415 B1, and EP 3 002 289 B1, protect Illumina’s proprietary sequencing-by-synthesis chemistry. Similar lawsuits are pending in Demark, Turkey, U.S.A, Germany and Switzerland.

International Patent News

Alibaba tightens anti-counterfeiting and IPR protection

According to a recent Anti-Counterfeiting Report released by Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant, the company has been making efforts to tighten its anti-counterfeiting and IPR protection. Alibaba has reportedly developed over 10 anti-counterfeiting technology like sampling and fake product screening models to combat the problem. The Report says that in 2017, Alibaba established an Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, currently, a total of 170 brands from over 17 different countries have joined the alliance.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Report is published by the company every year and this is the company’s 5th Report.

CNIPA publishes revised Patent Examiners Guidelines

The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), formerly known as State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), recently published the revised Patent Examiners Guidelines. The Guidelines will come into effect from 1st February 2020. The Guidelines throw light on emerging areas like Blockchain, Big Data, AI and Internet +. The method of application, analysis of claims and content are available in Chinese language only. According to the analysis of the Guidelines by the European Patent Office (EPO), the rules characterize the exact opposite of what is currently followed in the U.S.A.

European Commission publishes report on Protection and Enforcement of IPR in third countries

As a part of the efforts of the European Commission to strengthen the protection and enforcement of IPR in third countries, the European Commission has published a Report on Protection and Enforcement of IPR in third countries. The Report, which is published biennially, was published on 8th January 2020, this year.The objective of the Report is to essentially identify third countries in which the state of IPR protection and enforcement is expected to generate a high level of economic harm to EU interests. The Report also consists of an updated list of “priority countries” that have been recognized as a cause of concern. According to the latest Report, the list of priority countries are as follows –

Priority 1: China
Priority 2: India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine
Priority 3: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand

While China continues to maintain its position as Priority 1 country, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are this year’s new entrants as Priority 3 countries. Additionally, the Report places India as a Priority 2 country due to systematic problems in the area of IP protection and enforcement. The Report also says that Priority 2 Countries have made no progress or only limited progress in addressing issues especially relating to enforcement when compared to the previous report.

You may click here to access the Report


EPO and other representatives hold meeting to implement Unitary Patent package

The President of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos, the Chair and members of the executive group of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Preparatory Committee and the Chair of the Unitary Patent Select Committee met on 10th January 2020 to make preparations for the implementation of the Unitary Patent package. The meeting was held after a complaint was lodged with the German Federal Constitutional Court by an individual against German ratification of the UPC Agreement where the Judge had indicated that Court would render its decision in the first quarter of 2020. According the official notification on the EPO website, the EPO is prepared to register its first Unitary Patent. The notification also adds that until the Phase of Provisional Applications begins, some essential steps cannot be taken to establish the UPC.

A Unitary Patent is a patent granted by the EPO for which a unitary effect can be obtained from the EPO for the territory of the participating EU Member States. The UPC will be an international court with jurisdiction for patents granted by the EPO.


USITC launches investigation against Fitbit and Garmin for suspected patent violation

The U.S International Trade Commission (USITC) has announced that the Commission is in the process of launching an investigation into wearable monitoring device manufacturers, Fitbit and Garmin after being prompted by Philips. The complaint was filed by Philips on 10th December 2019 with the USITC. In the complaint, the company has asserted the infringement of four patents – U.S. Patent No. 7,845,228; U.S. Patent No. 9,820,698; U.S. Patent No. 9,717,464; and U.S. Patent No. 9,961,186. Philips had asked the agency to conduct an investigation and issue a limited exclusion order as well as cease and desist orders.

You may click here to access the as-filed complaint.

Compiled by Vibha Amarnath

About BIP’s Patent Attorneys

The patent news bulletin is brought to you by the patent division of BananaIP Counsels, a top patent and IP firm in India. Led by Senior Partners, Somashekar Ramakrishna, Nitin Nair and Vinita Radhakrishnan, BIP’s Patent Attorneys are among the leading patent practitioners in the country. They work with clients such as Mahindra and Mahindra, Samsung, HCL, Eureka Forbes, to name a few. The patent attorneys at BIP have strong technical and legal expertise in areas such as IT/Software, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Electronics and Telecommunication, Mechanical, Automotive, Green Energy, Traditional Medicine and Bio/Pharma domains. The firm is a first choice for clients looking for support in patent filing, prosecution, management and strategy in India, and across the world.

This weekly patent news bulletin is a part of their pro bono work, and is aimed at spreading patent awareness. You are free to share the news with appropriate attribution and backlink to the source.

If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please feel free to write to [email protected]

Disclaimer: Kindly note that the news bulletin has been put together from different sources, primary and secondary, and BananaIP’s reporters may not have verified all the news published in the bulletin. You may write to [email protected] for corrections and take down.

Leave a comment