Landmark case, Chemtura Corporation v. UOI, Facebook patents, Computer Related Inventions & more

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This weekly update on patents and industrial designs is brought to you by the patents division at BananaIP (BIP) Counsels.

Patent quote of the week

“People equate patents with secrecy, that secrecy is what patents were designed to overcome. That’s why the formula for Coca-Cola was never patented. They kept it as a trade secret, and they’ve outlasted patent laws by 80 years or more.” – Craig Venter (Pioneer of Human Genome Sequencing)

Patent Stats from the Indian Patents and Designs Office

Total number of patent applications published in the official journal of the patent office as issued on 24th February 2017: 504

Total number of patent applications published in respect of grant in the official journal of the patent office as issued on 24th February 2017: 293

Total number of Industrial Designs registered by the Indian Designs Office between 17th February 2017 and 24th February 2017: 167

Interesting patent of the week

Facebook granted a patent by the Chennai Patent Office

The social media giant, Facebook, Inc has been granted a patent for its invention titled “Systems and methods for generating dynamic relationship-based content personalized for members of a web-based social network”. The invention relates to finding need-based interactions from a pile of information and data available on the social networking sites. In the hearing before the controller, Facebook argued that sometimes members find themselves unable to find in a timely and efficient manner the information that does interest them, such as information about their friends and their community. In such instances, there is a need for systems and methods for generating dynamic relationship-based content personalised for members of a web-based social network. The patent number for the invention is 280381 and it was granted on 20th February 2017.

Patent cases update

Chemtura Corporation vs. Union of India

 The Chemtura case was a special case which dealt with the importance of adhering to the administrative requirements under the Patents Act, 1970. This case highlighted the fact that the administrative requirements of the Act had to be met strictly and facts must not be suppressed from the patent office. The core issue of the case was that Chemtura had suppressed vital information from the patent office, regarding the prosecution of its patent applications filed with the USPTO and EPO. The Delhi High Court in this case held that the “status of prosecution of a patent application in jurisdictions abroad must be provided in detail, including any information regarding searches conducted and objections raised. The case established the fact that while Section 8 titled “Information & undertaking regarding foreign applications” may appear to be a simple procedural formality; it could very easily serve to be a ground for revocation under Section 64 of the Patents Act, if not taken up seriously.

Patent Office Updates                                        

CGPDTM extends dates of applications for National Intellectual Property Awards 2017

In a notification dated 24th February 2017, the office of the CGPDTM has extended the date for the submission of applications (soft and hard copy) for National IP Awards-2017 in all categories upto the 9th of March 2017. Please click here to view the notification.

Government news & updates

India questions US policy on IPRs

India recently posed more than a hundred questions to the United States at a trade policy review meeting held recently. While the questions ranged from H-1B visas, intellectual property rights (IPR) policies and the US’ Special 301 report – that places India under a ‘priority watch list’, what piqued our interest was that India raised a series of questions on intellectual property (IP) rights and patent issues. In what is often seen as a touchy topic, India asked the US on compulsory licensing as to what it considered was the procedure for issue of compulsory/mandatory licenses and whether they were applicable irrespective of the field of technology? India further asserted that the American government “has remedies beyond legal provisions, to ensure that an action which is beneficial to the larger interest of the US economy and its consumers is taken”. The US however retorted that these assertions were inaccurate.

Patent office to clear backlogs by March 2018

Joint controller of patents, K S Kardam recently informed an audience at the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management in Nagpur that the office of Controller General of Patents is aiming to reduce the patent backlog by over half by March 2018. The patent office currently suffers from a backlog of over 1.7 lakh applications due to the acute shortage of patent examiners. The joint controller stated that the patent office intends to hire atleast 400 more examiners to reach a full strength and thereby reduce the backlog by atleast 2 years instead of the present 4 to 5 years.

International Patent Updates

Computer Related Invention Patent Held Invalid in USA – Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec

A Court in Delaware held a software and method patent of Intellectual Ventures relating to data backup invalid as it is an abstract idea. The Court stated that taking a backup and giving confirmation was a well known practice, and that the patent does not recite anything more than generic computer elements. The applications do not modify or improve the general computer in any manner.

The US ruling is in line with the practice followed by the Indian Patent Office as indicated from its CRI (Computer Related Invention) Guidelines, which also require a general purpose computer to do much more than its regular functions for a software invention to be patent eligible subject matter.

Honda’s Project 24 Patent Filings – Sports Car Soon?

As per an Auto Blog, Honda has filed a few patents for cars with an aluminum backbone chassis, and several possible car designs. These filings are being equated to Honda’s Project 24, which merges KTM X-Bow into a sports car design. Will we see a modern light, sports car soon?

Dental Invention Patent Suit in UK

Align Technology, holder of clearer aligner orthodontics patents, has sued ClearCorrect and Your Smile Direct in the UK for patent infringement. The suit has been filed in the Chancery Division of the High Court of UK. The ITC had earlier held ClearCorrect liable for infringement.

Patent Licensing / Commercialization updates

Open Patent License for a Potential TB Drug

Johns Hopkins University has entered into an agreement with Medicines Patent Pool to make a potential Tuberculosis drug, sutezolid, available for further research and development. Through the Medicines Patent Pool, the patents on the drug will now be available under an open, non-exclusive license. Pfizer and Sequella also hold some patents on the compound, and health groups are urging them to make those patents also available in the pool. This open license, some believe, will benefit one and all only if the medicines that come out of the license are made available at affordable prices.

New Specialized Licensing Platforms and Models

As the value of IP increases, many new licensing models and platforms are emerging by the day. The latest in such endeavors is the Marconi Group, which is launching specialized platforms for advanced technology areas. The objective of the platform as stated by the Group is to set up specific, focused platforms and enable easy licensing transactions. The Group will provide finance, legal, marketing and communications support for IP holders to facilitate licensing.

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