Supreme Court restores order extending time limits indefinitely, asks why Government is not invoking compulsory licensing provisions and more

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In this week’s patent news and updates – Supreme Court restores order extending time limits indefinitely; Supreme Court asks Government why it is not invoking compulsory licensing provisions; US publishes infamous “Special 301 Report”, places India on priority watch list; USPTO organizing series of free webinars on Industrial designs / design patents

Indian Patent Updates

Supreme Court restores order extending time limits indefinitely

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, i.e., April 27th restored its order from last year In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation, extending the period(s) of limitation provided under any general or special laws with effect from 14th March 2021.

The order which was issued last year on 23rd March 2020, had directed that “the period(s) of limitation, as prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, whether condonable or not, shall stand extended till further order”. This year, on the 8th of March 2021 however, the Supreme Court had ended the extension of limitation with effect from 14th of March 2021, citing improved situation.

In view of the of the unprecedented spike in the number of COVID cases and the dire situation prevailing across the country, the Supreme Court in its latest order observed

The extraordinary situation caused by the sudden and second outburst of COVID-19 Virus, thus, requires extraordinary measures to minimize the hardship of litigant–public in all the states. We, therefore, restore the order dated 23rd March, 2020 and in continuation of the order dated 8th March, 2021 direct that the period(s) of limitation, as prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, whether condonable or not, shall stand extended till further orders.”

Supreme Court asks Government why it is not invoking compulsory licensing provisions

The Supreme Court on Friday yet again asked the Central Government as to why it was not considering invoking the provisions of compulsory licensing under the Indian Patent Act in respect of the prevailing situation across the country. The bench consisting of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat posed the question Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and sought to know if the Centre was considering “invoking Section 92 of Patents Act and issue compulsory licenses so that drugs can be manufactured while royalty is sorted”. The Court further directed the government to show cause as to why the Court should not issue orders to invoke Section 92 or Section 100 of the Patents Act to enable manufacture of generic drugs with respect to Remdesivir, Tocilizumab or Favipiravar. Justice Ravindra Bhat reportedly stated that “This is an exact case where we should go for compulsory licensing. This is a situation of Public Health Emergency”. The Court has asked to Centre to respond to the points raised by the bench when the matter is brought up again on May 10th.

It is interesting to note that the Delhi High court had earlier this month on April 20th directed the Government to “immediately reach out to the manufacturers/ patent holders/ licensees so as to forthwith ramp up the production capacities” of drugs “and all such other medications, as are essential for” use in the treatment and management of COVID patients. The court had further stated that “the Government/ Controller should not hesitate to invoke their jurisdiction and powers” under the patent act, as far as issuing of compulsory licenses is concerned.

US publishes infamous “Special 301 Report”, places India on priority watch list

The United States on Friday published its latest edition of the “Special 301 Report”. The report has placed India and eight other countries on the Priority Watch List for IP protection and enforcement. The eight other countries include Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Venezuela. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has reportedly stated that “Over the past year, India has remained inconsistent in its progress on intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement. While India’s enforcement of IP in the online sphere has gradually improved, a lack of concrete benefits for innovators and creators persists, which continues to undermine their efforts. India remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies with respect to protection and enforcement of IP,”

The USTR “Special 301 Report” published annually has been dubbed and dismissed as dubious in the past by several experts who say that the report is nothing but a reflection of the personal interests of the US with no regard to IP laws of other countries.

Upcoming patent / design webinars

USPTO organizing series of free webinars on Industrial designs / design patents

The USPTO will be organizing a series of webinars on Industrial designs / design patents through May and June. Each webinar will cater to a specific sector such as Consumer products and fashion, Healthcare and fitness, Vehicles and Electronics, user interfaces and will involve a panel of design examiners, patent experts, among others. The first webinar for the month will be conducted on May 6th between 11:00 AM MT and 12:30 PM MT i.e., between 10:30 PM IST and 12:00 AM IST and is aimed at Consumer products and fashion. More details about the webinar may be accessed on USPTO’s official website, here.

The events are free and would benefit anyone wanting to understand how to leverage design patent strategies in their intellectual property portfolios, both in terms of maximizing portfolio value and success in enforcement.

Webinar Series Schedule:


Authored by Gaurav Mishra

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