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‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Win for Google, Project Voldemort, Dating Apps at War, and more

Start-Up Offers Huge Database of AI-Generated Images, US Copyright Office Denies Registration of Dunhill’s ‘Engine Turn’ Pattern, Patagonia Sues Third-Party Seller for Infringement and Misuse, UK Drug Makers Admit Breaching Anti-Trust Laws, Snap Shares Facebook’s ‘Project Voldemort’ with FTC, Google Wins ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Battle in the EU, Wild Accuses Tinder of Bullying, Facebook Suspends Several Apps for Misusing Data, and more.

US Copyright Office Denies Registration of Dunhill’s ‘Engine Turn’ Pattern  

The US Copyright Office has refused to grant copyright protection to a fabric pattern created by British men’s wear brand Dunhill, whose application had been previously refused for want of originality and creativity. The pattern, named ‘Engine Turn’, comprises of diamond shapes and 6-sided arrows arranged in symmetrical rows and columns. Although the level of originality and creativity required to obtain a copyright in the US is quite low, the Director of the Copyright Office held that in this case that a mere arrangement of standard geometric shapes and the simple blue and brown colour scheme are by themselves not copyrightable. Further, US copyright law only covers the separable creative elements of garments and accessories, leaving the garments and accessories in their entirety to be protected through design patents.

Patagonia Sues Third-Party Seller for Infringement and Misuse

Outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia has recently sued Kimberly McHugh, a third-party seller, in a California court for infringement and misuse of its copyright and trademark. McHugh has been selling authentic Patagonia-branded merchandise through her online store, Our Little Corner, on Amazon.com and other online platforms. Patagonia claims that the seller has not only been misusing its brand name, the ‘Fitz Roy’ logo trade mark, and its copyrighted product images, but also interfering with Patagonia’s contracts with its authorized sellers. Patagonia claims that the higher prices and inconsistent warranties offered by McHugh amount to material differences and may lead to consumer confusion and deception.

Google Wins ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Battle in the EU

The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of Google, in a case involving the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, limiting the right to the territorial borders of the European Union. A 2014 ruling required online search engines to delete obsolete or embarrassing information if requested by the concerned individual. The ECJs recent order has clarified that Google must only ensure that the requested links are not visible to users within the EU, and that it does not need to delete the information entirely. However, the ECJ has made it clear that search engines should seriously discourage users from accessing the same information from non-EU versions of their pages. Google, which had argued that individuals’ right to privacy must be balanced with the freedom of internet users and the availability of information, received the support of technology companies including Microsoft and Wikimedia, and also the ECJ court advisor.

UK Drug Makers Admit Breaching Anti-Trust Laws

An Anti-trust investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the business operations of major pharmaceutical manufacturers in the UK has revealed that the accused companies colluded with one another to maintain high process for a common drug. The drug in question is Nortriptyline, an anti-depressant commonly prescribed by the National Health Services (NHS) to thousands of patients every month to relieve symptoms of depression. The investigation was opened by the CMA in 2017 in accordance with the UK Competition Act and the EU Treaty. The CMA also issued a statement in June 2019, provisionally finding the three companies involves guilty of violating competition laws. The companies have now admitted to illegally sharing commercial information, including pricing data, sale volumes, and market entry plans between 2015 and 2017. The CMA’s findings, and the companies’ admission, are significant in the context of the spiraling cost of the drug borne by the NHS over the last few years.

Snap Shares Facebook’s ‘Project Voldemort’ with FTC

Snap Inc., which owns Snapchat, has revealed to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US anti-trust investigation body, its dossier on Facebook’s alleged unfair trade practices. ‘Project Voldemort’, as it has been named, includes documentation of Facebook’s anti-competitive activities over several years. This includes instances where Facebook discouraged Instagram influencers from including links to Snap and suspicions that the company prevented Snap content from trending on Instagram. Facebook, along with Amazon, Apple and Google, is currently under joint investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and FTC activities regarding activities likely to have stifled competition and established monopoly in their respective domains by limiting customer choices. Facebook in particular, is also under investigation to determine whether it unfairly stifled competition by acquiring its competitors or limiting their access to Facebook data.

Start-Up Offers Huge Database of AI-Generated Images

Start-up company Icons8 has created a database of 100,000 images of people using Artificial Intelligence (AI), and is willing to offer this resource royalty-free. The company claims to have used in-house photographs of real models to generate the images, and not pulled any from the existing stock image databases or scraped pictures from internet sources. The company is currently working on solving the problem of abnormalities in the generated images. The company intends for its images to be used mainly by designers to illustrate their work, without having to grapple with complex copyright and personality rights issues which often arise when using pictures of real models.

Wild Accuses Tinder of Bullying

Dating app Wild has received two cease and desist notices from its popular rival Tinder, alleging trademark infringement of Tinder’s flame symbol. Tinder has claimed that Wild used the flame in place of the dot over the ‘I’ in its title on app stores, and has asked Wild to remove the symbol in order to avoid consumer falsely associating Wild with Tinder services. The notices state that Tinder will take appropriate action and have the app removed from online platforms in case suitable modifications are not made. Wild issued a statement that it has modified its icon out of respect for Tinder’s rights, but has now claimed that it has owned trademark rights in the flame symbol since its launch four years ago. It has termed Tinder’s “sudden interest” in the flame symbol “perplexing”, and accused Tinder of using its popularity and reputation to bully its rivals, reasoning that the flame is a “universal symbol” for passion and romance.

Facebook Suspends Several Apps for Misusing Data

Facebook has recently announced the suspension of tens of thousands of apps from its platform, as a part of the ongoing investigation on misappropriation of user data by third-party developers. This internal investigation is being carried out after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, which resulted in the misuse of user data by political actors and a fine of USD 5 billion being imposed on Facebook. Facebook is yet to provide the exact number of suspended apps or clarify exactly how these apps were misusing data, but has stated that they came from only 400 developers. It is currently reviewing millions of other apps, and has mandated an annual compliance review for third-party apps. Facebook has also initiated legal action against developers who used apps to infect user devices with malware, and is in the process of banning apps which do not comply with its audit and protection requirements.

 

Authored and compiled by Ashwini Arun and Anusmita Mazumder (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)

The IP, Privacy and Antitrust Law News Bulletin is brought to you by the Consulting/Strategy Division of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to contact@bananaip.com  with the subject: IP, Privacy and Antitrust  Law News.

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