Wednesday 30 March 2016

India: Lack of a solid legal foundation affecting the longevity of Start-ups?

Successfully running a business requires a lot of strategizing even before the first product is sold. With the proliferation of start-ups since the last couple of years, and especially with the governments’ recent initiative to boost entrepreneurship, interested people are usually aware of the practical steps to be taken to see their ideas become reality. If one is interested in an e-commerce start-up one has to first develop a solid proof of concept, find the right market for the product to fit, hire the first set of employees, etc. But, while these embryonic steps are key to establishing a solid base to structure your business upon, there are a few crucial areas which entrepreneurs tend to over-look.

For startups, particularly in the B2B online delivery sectors, along with finances and logistics, establishing a solid legal foundation is a fundamental area which does not get the attention it deserves. It is important because even though without it a company can look very good in theory, it cannot carry on its day to day activities if it does not comply with all the regulatory requirements. One of the primaries of establishing a solid legal foundation, along with choosing the right legal entity to function as, is the protection of intellectual property at the outset. Intellectual property (IP) is a startup’s most valuable asset. Trademarks, patents, copyrights and designs, etc. are the essential components of IP. It is essential to get a proper clearance of one’s intellectual property before using it. Entrepreneurs, in most cases not being aware, neglect the selection and protection of IP and suffer later. Due to working on a shoestring budget in the nascent stages, entrepreneurs in most cases do not spend a dime on professional legal advice for managing their business, and this lack of oversight in due course of time tends to become their Achilles-heal.

This was the reality that B2B delivery platform ‘Roadrunnr’, owned and managed by Carthero Technologies Pvt. Ltd., faced one fine morning, when they realized that they were trending all over popular media for reasons beyond their operational issues. As recently as last week, several media channels reported that the Bengaluru-based company has landed in legal trouble over some intellectual property rights infringement for its name from an unknown company. Even though nothing has been publicly admitted by the management with one particular report of its Co-Founder Mr. Mohit Kumar, denying any such legal confrontation[1], the company did in fact immediately change its name in the aftermath of the news. If one visits the original website, they are displayed with the following message:

The link of the webpage redirects the user to under which domain name (having dropped the word “Road”) the company is currently running its operations. The following is the ‘Whois report’ of both the domain names

As a kneejerk response, the management of the Company has commented on the sudden change of its name as an act of experimenting with the brand name. However, a brief search has revealed that the company recently applied for the trademark registration of its earlier trade name ‘ROADRUNNR’. A public trademark search of the word ‘roadrunnr’ from the records of the Trade Marks Registry, brought the following results    

Our research team has also compiled a list of trademark applications registered/filed for the mark “RoadRunner” and variations thereof by various entities–    

In light of this trend of start-ups being on the receiving end of Intellectual Property violations, it is important to point out how lack of legal awareness and professional legal advice can be an impediment to running a company which is otherwise sound on its ideas and its target market.
India: “Pehla Nasha*” Not Pehla Enough For Radio Mirchi

(*Pehla, a Hindi word, when translated to English means ‘First’. Nasha, also a Hindi word, when translated to English means ‘Intoxication’.).

In a recent trademark passing off dispute involving Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. and HT Media Ltd., the Delhi High Court dealt with whether a prima facie case had been made out by the former for grant of an ad-interim injunction against the latter.

Brief Facts of the Case-

Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. trading as ‘Radio Mirchi’ (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Plaintiff’) filed a suit in the Commercial Division of the Delhi High Court, numbered as CS(COMM) No. 179/2016, seeking, inter alia, an injunction against HT Media Ltd. trading as ‘Fever’ (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Defendant’), restraining the Defendant from using the trademark/tradename ‘Radio Nasha’ or any other mark deceptively similar to that of the Plaintiff’s. The Plaintiff’s grievance is that it is the exclusive owner of the trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’ used by it with respect to an internet radio channel and the Defendant is passing off the Plaintiff’s said trademark by using the mark ‘Radio Nasha’ in respect of its radio channel.

Contentions of the Plaintiff-
  1. The Plaintiff operates an internet radio channel, ‘Radio Mirchi’, a sub-channel of which is ‘Pehla Nasha’ which provides music to its listeners.
  2. The Plaintiff had applied for registration of the trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’, which was not granted at the time of instituting the suit. The Plaintiff subsequently got to know of the Defendant passing off its aforesaid trademark by using ‘Radio Nasha’, when the Defendant had applied for registration of its trademark ‘Radio Nasha’.
  3. The word ‘Nasha’ forming a part of the trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’ is in the ownership of the larger trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’ of the Plaintiff.  Hence, the Defendant cannot use the word ‘Nasha’ from ‘Pehla Nasha’ in its FM radio channel name, ‘Radio Nasha’.
Contentions of the Defendant-
  1. The Defendant runs an FM radio channel/station under the trademark/tradename ‘Radio Nasha’.
  2. The Defendant, through Sr. Advocate Mr. P. Chidambaram, contended that the Plaintiff was not the exclusive owner of the trademark ‘Nasha’ forming a part of the trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’ since there were other music and song suppliers, whether through internet channels or radio channels, who use the word ‘Nasha’ as part of their trademark/ tradename and who were in business prior to the alleged first use by the Plaintiff of ‘Pehla Nasha’ in 2014. Hence, the Plaintiff was not entitled to an injunction.   
  3. The Defendant filed an affidavit citing various music websites and channels on the internet using the word ‘Nasha’, since 2006 (, 2012 (Nepali Nasha on and 2013 (Haroon Ka Nasha on, prior to the adoption of and use by the Plaintiff of ‘Pehla Nasha’, in 2014.
Counter-Contentions by the Plaintiff-
  1. Responding to the Defendant’s contention that the word ‘Nasha’ is being used in many playlists, the Plaintiff, through Sr. Advocate Mr. Sandeep Sethi, distinguished the playlists of ‘Nepali Nasha’ and ‘Haroon Ka Nasha’ as available on the music sharing website with respect to the use of the word ‘Nasha’ as not affecting the ownership of its trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’. This was based on the argument that though both the aforementioned playlists enable listeners to listen to songs on the repertoire of these playlists, the listeners can control the playlists by skipping the songs. These aspects distinguish such music channels from those of the Plaintiff, where the listener cannot choose a specific song or control the playlist. The same was contended for all playlists with the word ‘Nasha’ on the websites of, and
  2. The Plaintiff also contended that playlists on have come into operation after 2014 and that the iTunes website was not available in India till 2016, therefore, not being users of the word ‘Nasha’ prior to the Plaintiff.
Single Judge’s Decision-

The Learned Single Judge held vide its order dated March 17, 2016, that there was prior use by other parties and, thus, there was no prima facie case of passing off in the present suit. In the absence of any grounds for the grant of an ad-interim injunction, temporary injunction was not granted. In this regard, the Learned Single Judge observed the following:
  • That the suit was at an initial stage where the pleadings were not completed as the Defendant was yet to file its written statement and the Plaintiff its replication thereto.
  • That in the short period of time since the suit was instituted, both the parties still had to file various additional documents to support their respective pleas. Hence, it would not be appropriate to grant an ad-interim injunction and stop an existing FM radio channel of the Defendant.
  • That the grant of an ad-interim injunction till the completion of the pleadings of the parties, hearing of the case and disposal of the suit under Order XXXIX Rules 1 & 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, was under question in the suit.
  • That since there exist other music suppliers and websites who had adopted the word ‘Nasha’ for their music and song channels prior to the use by the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff is not the exclusive owner and user of the word ‘Nasha’ forming part of its trademark ‘Pehla Nasha’. The use by the Defendant of the word ‘Nasha’ is relatable to and adapted from the use of ‘Nasha’ by the other music suppliers.
  •  That granting an ad-interim injunction would have the effect of decreeing the suit at an interim stage itself without giving an opportunity to the Defendant, who prima facie had defences, to contest and seek the dismissal of the suit on the merits like the ground of prior use of the word ‘Nasha’ by other parties, thus, depriving the Plaintiff of an exclusive ownership.
  • Subsequently, aggrieved by the aforesaid decision, the Plaintiff immediately filed an appeal against it, numbered as FAO(OS)(COMM) 8/2016.
Divisions Bench’s Decision-

Hearing the matter on appeal, the Division Bench, vide its order dated March 21, 2016, observed that to interfere against an order declining to grant an ad-interim injunction, perversity has to be shown in the finding of the Learned Single Judge and the present case was not one where an ad-interim injunction should have been granted by the Learned Single Judge, who committed no error in postponing the same till the Defendant files its written statement and reply to the injunction with the required documents. The appeal was, thus, dismissed on March 21, 2016, as it is not a case where the denial of a protem ad-interim injunction, pending hearing of the injunction application, was an erroneous exercise of jurisdiction by the Learned Single Judge. Thus, the Division bench of the Delhi High Court dismissed the appeal.

Concluding Remarks-

The aforesaid decision of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court confirms the well-settled position in law that an appellate bench will not usually interfere with the decision on grant of injunction by the Single Judge/Trial Court if the same has been passed based on sound principles of law, and does not prime facie cause irreparable injury to the Plaintiff.

Ms. Shahana Parveen qualifies the Trade Marks Agent Examination

S.S. Rana & Co. feels proud to announce that its senior paralegal, Ms. Shahana Parveen, has cleared the Trade Marks Agent Examination, 2015 and has qualified to become a Trade Marks Agent. Ms. Parveen has been working with the firm as a paralegal in the Trade Marks department for the past 5 years. She is one of the 203 candidates selected from out of the 335 who had appeared for the examination and interview.

S.S. Rana & Co. celebrates Holi

Holi is a spring festival in India, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of sharing love. Holi is a two-day festival which starts on the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Bikram Sambat Hindu Calendar month of Falgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar.

Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil should be destroyed as the bonfire starts. The next morning is celebrated as ‘Rangwali Holi’ - a free-for-all carnival of colours, where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight.

We at S.S. Rana & Co keeping in line with our traditions also celebrated this day with much enthusiasm. To celebrate this day an event was organized where our traditions and our rich cultural heritage were celebrated. After the small ceremony, all the employees, consultants, staff and paralegals assembled in a common ground to participate in the festival of colors, where participants colored each other’s faces with dry organic colors.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

India: Monsanto Served Notice for Revocation of its Bt Cotton Patent
According to The Indian Express, a leading Indian daily, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has recently served a show cause notice to Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Private Limited (MMBL) on March 03, 2016, calling upon it to explain why its patent for the Bt cotton technology should not be revoked under the provisions of the Indian Patents Act, 1970. The reason for this being, that the patented product, which MMBL claims to be resistant to pink bollworms, is allegedly no longer working as claimed.
Brief Background
Monsanto is an American multi-national corporation known for its contribution to the field of genetically modified crops around the world. In India, Monsanto sells a genetically modified version of Cotton seeds known as Bt Cotton and marketed as Bollgard (containing the Cry1Ac protein / Mon-531 gene) and Bollgard-II through their Indian counterpart MMBL. Bt Cotton is claimed to contain an insecticidal protein, whose gene has been derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), making the seed resistant to bollworm attacks. The 2014-2015 Annual Report of the Cotton Association of India has stated that the acreage under Bt cotton in the country has reached to 96% of the total acreage of around 129.71 lakh hectares where Bt cotton is cultivated. This data shows the overwhelming use of Bt Cotton for cultivation with almost the entirety of the seeds used being manufactured by Monsanto.
Patenting History of Bollgard and Bollgard-II
Monsanto was first granted a patent for the first version of their Bt Cotton seed, Bollgard in the United States in 1992, which expired in 2012. In India, Monsanto tied up with Mahyco (which later became Mahyco Monsanto in 1998) to import Bollgard. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) gave Monsanto permission to commercially release Bollgard in 2002 and Bollgard-II in 2006. Interestingly, it appears from a brief research that Monsanto did not file for grant of a patent for Bollgard in India.
In 2008, an indigenous seed containing the Cry1Ac gene was developed by researchers at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, Karnataka in India. However, reportedly, under the assumption that Monsanto had a patent on this gene, UAS was not allowed to sell the seed commercially on the directions of the Ministry of Environment and Forests[1].
Bollgard-II involves the introduction of Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab genes from Bt into cotton plants and Monsanto claimed that it conferred resistance against American bollworm, pink bollworm and spotted bollworm. Through Indian Application no. 1947/CHENP/2003, Monsanto was granted a patent (Patent No. 232681) for the cottonseeds on March 20, 2009 w.e.f. June 05, 2002.
Failure of Bollgard and Bollgard-II
In 2009, Bollgard began to fail as bollworms became resistant to the Cry1Ac gene. According to a press note issued by Monsanto, resistance to Cry1Ac was seen in only four districts in the Indian state of Gujarat i.e. Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Rajkot. Further, according to the information provided on the company’s website, no insect resistance has been confirmed outside the four districts in Gujarat[2].
The company recommended that it would be safer for the farmers to adopt Bollgard-II instead.
In 2015, it was first reported by the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) that Bollgard-II has also started to develop pink bollworm[3]. Surveys have indicated that the damage to the cotton crop from pink bollworm attacks are “particularly severe” in Gujarat with an estimated 9 per cent yield loss, and it was found to have spread to wider areas. Monsanto said that while results of the CICR study were awaited, internal studies indicated resistance by pink bollworm in some districts of Gujarat to Cry2Ab protein, a key component of Bollgard II. This has reportedly been proliferated by improper insect resistance management practices, absence of refuge (non-Bt seeds), and spread of illegal seeds[4].
Revocation of Patent?
Revocation of a patent can be done under Section 64 or Section 66 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970. Section 64 provides for revocation of patents, as long as certain grounds as laid down are met. An application for the revocation of a patent can be made by any interested party or the Central Government. The important provision with regard to this situation is Section 64(1)(g) which provides that an application for revocation can be made if the invention is not useful. This raises the question as to what constitutes “not useful” i.e. whether it includes a situation where the invention does not work at all or does not produce the desired result claimed in the patent specification.
In this regard it may be pertinent to note the judgment of the Bombay High Court in Farbewerke Hoechst v. Unichem Labs and Ors. [AIR 1969 Bom 255], where it was observed in paragraph 17 that even if the amount of utility of an invention is very small, if an invention is of some use to the public it is considered sufficiently useful. Further in paragraph 20 of Farbewerke, the Court observed that:
““not useful” in patent law means that… it will not do what the specification promises that it will do. If the invention will give the result promised at all, the objection on the ground of want of utility must fail”.
In view of the above, it appears that if the specification in Monsanto’s patent on Bollgard-II claims that the invention is resistant/ tolerant to pink bollworms but is no longer displaying that resistance and the invention is not giving the result promised, grounds for revocation can be made out.
Other Legal Disputes
Interestingly, Monsanto is also facing legal challenges on the price at which the Bt cotton seeds are sold to the public. Cottonseed is an essential commodity under Section 2(a)(ix) of the Indian Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Under Section 3(2)(c) of the Act, the Central Government can make orders for controlling the price at which cottonseed can be sold. The Central Government issued the Cotton Seed Price Control Order, 2015 on December 07, 2015 [G.S.R. 936(E)] for controlling the price at which Bt cotton seeds can be sold in India. The said Order created a panel which would fix the maximum price of Bt Cotton seeds. On March 08, 2016 vide Standing Order bearing No. S.O. 686(E), the Central Government fixed the Maximum Sale Price of Bollgard-II at INR 800 with the Trait Rate being fixed at INR 49[5].
Monsanto challenged the Order in Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors [W.P. (C) 12069/2015] before the Delhi High Court asking for a stay which was refused by the Court who asked for the Central Government to file a counter affidavit on March 04, 2016. The Court on March 04, 2016 heard in part impleadment applications and ordered that the matter be listed for the end of the board on March 09, 2016[6]. On March 09, 2016, the National Seed Association of India, Bhartiya Janta Kisan Morcha and Indian Kisan Sabha were impleaded as respondents and the matter has been listed for hearing and disposal on March 23, 2016[7].
In a combined judgment dated February 10, 2016 in Re: Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Family Welfare And M/s Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited (MMBL) [Reference Case no. 2 of 2015] and M/s Nuziveedu Seeds Limited & Ors. And M/s Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited & Ors. [Case no. 107 of 2015], the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered that the Director General (DG) make a detailed probe into alleged abuse of dominance by MMBL. The CCI was of the view that there exists a prima facie case of contravention of the provisions of Section 3(4) and Section 4 of the Indian Competition Act, 2002. The CCI has also asked the DG to submit his report within 60 days.

The patentability of Monsanto’s Bt cottonseeds, sold as Bollgard-II, is facing challenge at present as the cottonseeds are allegedly no longer functioning as claimed by the company in its specification. The present issue has opened up the possibility that a patent may be revoked under Section 64(1)(g) of the Patents Act for being “not useful”, and may thereby set a precedent where a patent may be revoked if, after a period of time, the product or invention is no longer able to produce the same result as promised due to a build-up of tolerance. The eventual outcome in this matter however is yet to be seen.

India: Court's Permission not required for Rectification of Trademark during Pendency of a Suit
In a recent decision rendered by the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court in the case of Data Infosys & Ors. v. Infosys Technologies Ltd. [FAO (OS) 403/2012], the Hon’ble Court sought to provide some clarity and solve the judicial conflict on the question whether prior permission of the Court is necessary under Section 124(1)(b)(ii) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, for rectification of a registered trade mark during the pendency of the suit. The Court held, by a majority, that prior permission from the Court was not necessary for initiating rectification proceedings during pendency of the suit. It was also held that if a party failed to file rectification proceedings in the time period granted by the Court, upon prima facie tenability of the invalidity of the registration of the trade mark, the suit would not be stayed and the plea of invalidity would be deemed to have been abandoned.

Brief facts of the case –

Infosys Technologies Ltd. filed a suit against Data Infosys, before the Delhi High Court for trademark infringement of its registered trade mark “Infosys” and sought a permanent injunction. However, during the pendency of the suit, the Appellant’s application for registration of its mark, “Data Infosys”, was accepted and was registered under Classes 9, 38 and 42. Upon becoming aware of this, the Respondent herein immediately filed rectification proceedings against such a registration without taking the leave of the Court.

Contentions by the Appellants (Data Infosys & Ors.) –
  1. The Appellants contended that the proceedings for rectification of their trademark cannot be initiated without the prima facie satisfaction of the plea of invalidity of registration of the trade mark by the Court. It was also contended that the suit cannot be adjourned and stayed under Section 124(1)(b)(ii) of the Act to await the outcome of the rectification proceedings initiated by the Respondent before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (hereinafter referred to as the “IPAB”).
  2. By becoming aware of the proceedings, the Respondent initiated the filing for rectification procedure without taking leave of the Court. This constituted an abuse of power and the proceedings under IPAB were, thus, null and void. Later, however, the Learned Judge considered and dismissed the said proceedings. 
  3. The Appellants argued that permission under Section 124(1)(b)(ii) is a condition precedent and mandatory. If the rectification proceedings are filed without obtaining such permission, the proceedings are not maintainable. It was argued specifically that not applying for rectification, as has been mentioned clearly in Section 124, is the statutory abandonment of the plea. Further, autonomy under Section 124(5) to the Court to proceed and to make interlocutory orders including injunction emphasizes the interpretation pressed by the Appellants. It was further contended that if the prior permission through the Court as to invalidity is not obtained, the right to apply for rectification is precluded.
Contentions by the Respondent (Infosys Technologies Ltd.) –
  1. The Respondent sought rectification of the registered trade mark "Infosys" under Classes 38, 9 and 42 while taking leave of the Court to amend the written statement on permission.
  2. The Respondent argued that no permission is required or mandated by Section 124 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, before filing the petition with the IPAB. He argued that it is a mere procedural provision dealing with the stay of a suit in various situations concerning infringement actions. Substantive jurisdiction of IPAB is derived from the provisions of Sections 47 and 57 of the said Act.
The Respondent also relied upon the Madras High Court decision in the case of B. Mohamed Yousuff v. Prabha Singh Jaswant Singh & Ors. (WRIT APPEAL No.863 of 2006).

Observations & Decision of the Court –
  1. The Court observed that as per Section 124, the Court’s jurisdiction extends only to examining whether a prima facie case for invalidity exists only for the limited purpose of granting an adjournment/stay, while the IPAB has the exclusive jurisdiction to decide on the validity of registration of the trade mark. An infringement suit in a civil court and the process of rectification can proceed separately.
  2. The Court held that the IPAB has exclusive jurisdiction to consider and decide upon the merits of the plea of invalidating of a trademark registration, and that access to IPAB is not dependent on a Civil Court’s prima facie assessment of tenability of a plea of trade mark registration. While doing so, the Court also overruled the decision in the case of AstraZeneca UK Ltd. v. Orchid Chemicals (2006 (32) PTC 733 Del) that a party cannot avail the remedy of rectification of a registered trade mark unless the Court trying the suit for infringement of the same mark rules it to be prima facie tenable.
  3. The Court held by a majority that the only two situations where a suit for infringement action can be stayed are as follows-
    1. When the rectification proceedings have been filed before the institution of such suit, or;
    2. When the plea of invalidity of the trade mark registration is held prima facie tenable.
  4. The Court also mentioned that if indeed held tenable, if the party does not file the rectification proceeding in the time period granted by the Court, the plea of invalidity shall be deemed to be abandoned in the infringement suit and no stay shall be granted.
The appeal was, therefore, remitted back to the concerned Full Bench on February 11, 2016, subject to the orders of the Hon’ble Chief Justice.


The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court thus finally provided clarity by holding that both the IPAB and Civil Courts have exclusive jurisdiction and a party does not require prior permission from the Court to have access to file the proceedings in the IPAB and situations where a suit of infringement can be stayed. The said judgment is available here.

The World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year on March 15 and is an occasion to celebrate and promote solidarity with respect to the international consumer movement. It commemorates the date in 1962 when the American President John F. Kennedy first defined ‘Consumer Rights’. This day is an opportunity to promote the various fundamental rights of consumers worldwide, to demand that such rights are respected and protected, and to protest the market abuses and social injustices undermining them. Citizen action has been mobilized through this movement. Initiatives such as campaigns, public exhibitions, press conferences, workshops, street events etc. are held all over the world every year in order to celebrate this day.

The theme for the year 2016 was ‘Antibiotic Resistance’. Consumer groups all over the world came together to tackle a possible major public health crisis on an international level, that is, the use of antibiotics in poultry used for human consumption leading to an alleged antibiotic resistance in humans. A campaign was started, called ‘#AntibioticsOffTheMenu’, following the said theme. Consumers International, an independent and authoritative global voice for consumers, called on the hospitality and food & beverage industry to make commitments on a global level to stop serving meat from animals regularly given antibiotics used in human medicines. In March 2014, Consumers International had published recommendations setting out the measures needed to be taken to reduce the use of antibiotics in farming. It has been reported that the overuse of antibiotics is creating highly resistant superbugs. If no action is taken urgently, the world may head into a post-antibiotic era, in which medicines may stop working and common infections and minor injuries may once again start becoming dangerous and may not be contained by the development of new drugs. If drastic measures are not taken to bring down the global consumption of antibiotics, the world may face the return to an era where even the simplest of infections could be harmful. The existing practice of routinely giving farm animals antibiotics is reported to be contributing to this particular threat.

The hospitality and food & beverage industry is believed to be in a position to use its buying power to make a huge difference to the global supply chain. This may be able to affect a change much faster than governments by using their purchasing power to speed up the phasing out of the practice of regularly administering farm animals with antibiotics that are used in human medicine as well. With regard to this, the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, and the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, can be invoked to mandate it for manufacturers of meat products to mention on the packaging of the packaged meat products whether the meat products are derived from animals dosed with antibiotics. This would enable consumers to make a well-informed decision while buying such products, who may choose to stay away from such products by opting for the antibiotic-free ones. Thus, this may play an important role in persuading food companies to make the requisite changes needed to stop this global public health threat and protect the medicines for humans for the future.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

India: Meizu Wins Domain Name Infringement Case
In an award passed on February 17, 2016, in a domain name recovery complaint filed by Meizu Technology Co. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Complainant’) against Virginia Cross (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Respondent’), before the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), the Arbitrator held that the disputed domain name <> is similar to the trade mark ‘MEIZU’ of the Complainant and the same be transferred to the Complainant.

Brief Facts of the Case

The Complainant, Meizu Technology Co. Ltd., is a company existing under the corporate laws in China with its registered office at Guangdong, People’s Republic of China. It provides MP3 players and smartphones since 2003, providing services in countries like the United States of America as well as India. Meanwhile, the Respondent, Virginia Cross, of Texas, U.S.A., did not submit any response to the complaint. Hence, its identity and activities are not known. The Complainant filed a complaint with NIXI on December 22, 2015, for the recovery of the disputed domain name (, which was registered by the Respondent, as it incorporates the registered mark ‘MEIZU’ belonging to the Complainant.

Contentions raised by the Complainant
  1. The Complainant adopted MEIZU as a trade mark and has been continuously using MEIZU as a trade name, corporate name, business name and trading style since its very inception.
  2. The Complainant has obtained registrations of the aforesaid mark in a number of jurisdictions around the world including in India and the United States of America. The trade mark MEIZU was registered under Class 9 in India on September 24, 2008, initially in the name of Zhu Hai Mai Zu Electronic Technology Co. Ltd. Later, in March, 2011, the name of the registrant of the trade mark MEIZU was changed to Meizu Technology Co. Ltd.
  3. The Complainant is the owner of some other domain names incorporating the word MEIZU and is, thus, well-known to its customers and in its business circles as MEIZU all around the world.
  4. In recent times, a domain name has become a business identifier as it helps identify the subject of trade or service that an entity seeks to provide to its potential customers. Thus, there is also a strong likelihood that a web browser looking for MEIZU products in India or elsewhere would mistake the disputed domain name as that of the Complainant. Therefore, the disputed domain name ( is similar or identical to the registered trade mark of the Complainant.
  5. The Respondent, as an individual, business or organization, has not been commonly known by the mark or name MEIZU as the Respondent’s name is Virginia Cross nor has the Respondent applied for the registration of the mark MEIZU anywhere in the world.
  6. The Respondent is also not making a legitimate or fair use of the said domain name for offering goods and services.
  7. The Respondent has registered the disputed domain name ( purposely with the motive or intention of obstructing the business of the Complainant, to obfuscate clients, prospective clients and other internet users and to cause a negative impact on the reputation of the Complainant. The main object of registering the domain name ( by the Respondent is to mislead the general public and the customers of the Complainant.
  8. The use of a domain name that appropriates a trade mark to promote competing or infringing products cannot be considered a ‘bona fide offering of goods and services’.
Contentions raised by the Respondent

The Respondent did not submit any response despite intimation of the Complaint to it by the Sole Arbitrator. The case was, therefore, proceeded ex-parte.

Discussion and Findings of the Sole Arbitrator, NIXI

The Arbitrator, while deciding the matter, made the following observations:

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar:
  1. The Complainant is the owner of the trade mark MEIZU, registered in certain countries. The Complainant also possess a number of other domain names with the word MEIZU and is the owner of the trade mark MEIZU, which is registered in certain countries.
  2. The Complainant possesses a number of other domain names with the word ‘MEIZU’. Most of these domain names and trade mark have been created by the Complainant much before the date of creation of the disputed domain name by the Registrant/ Respondent.
  3. The disputed domain name is very much similar or identical to other domain names and the trade mark of the Complainant.
Therefore, the domain name <> is confusingly similar or identical to the Complainant’s trademarks.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests:
  1. There is no evidence to suggest that the Respondent has become known by the disputed domain name anywhere in the world
  2. Based on the evidence adduced by the Complainant, it is concluded that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.
  3. Further, the Complainant has not licensed or otherwise permitted the Respondent to use its name or trade mark or to apply for or use the domain name incorporating the said name. Therefore, the Registrant/ Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith:
  1. As contended by the Complainant, the Respondent has intentionally attempted to attract internet users to the disputed domain name, for commercial gain, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s mark. The Complainant has also contended that the Respondent was aware of the Complainant’s registration of the trade mark MEIZU, and the disputed domain name <> is available for sale on the Sedo site.
  2. The Respondent registered or acquired the disputed domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, rendering or transferring the domain name registration to the owner of the trade mark or service mark (normally the Complainant or other interested buyers) for valuable consideration in excess of the Respondent’s out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name. An annexure was attached to the Complaint indicating that the disputed name ( is available for sale on the Sedo site.
  3. The complete address of the Registrant/ Respondent could not be found and there was no response to the e-mail sent to the Registrant’s id as mentioned in the Whois record.
The foregoing circumstances led to the presumption that the domain name in dispute was registered and used by the Respondent in bad faith.
Decision of the NIXI Arbitrator
In light of the aforesaid findings, the Arbitrator held that the Respondent’s domain name is confusingly similar to the mark over which the Complainant has rights and that the Respondent has no legitimate rights or interests with respect to the domain name. Hence, the Arbitrator allowed the complaint directing that the Respondent’s domain name <> be transferred to the Complainant.
International Women's Day, also called International Working Women's Day, is celebrated every year on the 8th of March. The focus of the celebrations is on the general celebration of women. Respect, acknowledgement, appreciation and love towards them for their economic, political and social achievements are the main aspects of the day.

On the occasion of International Women's Day this year, the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurated the first Conference of Women Legislators, the theme of which was ‘The Role of Women Legislators in Nation Building’. The conference was held on March 5, 2016, in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the Indian Constitution provides equal rights to men and women and also enshrines that there should be no discrimination between the two genders with respect to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

This year the United Nations’ theme for the International Women’s Day was "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality". An independent campaign was also started which organized events around the #PledgeForParity hashtag.

We at S. S. Rana & Co. also celebrated this day with much enthusiasm. Interestingly, 9 out of a total 13 Head of Departments (HODs) in the firm and more than 50% of the entire staff are women. To celebrate this day, an event was organized in the firm where the women of the organization were celebrated and appreciated, followed by a small presentation, and a cake-cutting ceremony. Women consultants, employees as well as interns were also given pepper sprays for their safety.

The firm is committed to providing equal opportunity and promote gender equality and therefore encourage female IP practitioners and paralegals to foray into the mainstream law and legal services. Some of our women friendly initiatives and policies at S.S. Rana & Co. to help women employees manage their careers and family responsibilities more successfully are as follows:
  • No. of Women Employees: We take pride in stating that at present, more than 75% of the lawyers at S.S. Rana & Co. are women. Women also make up more than 50 % of the total employees.
  • Flexible work schedules: Depending on the requirement of the employee, the facility of flexible work timings has been extended to several women employees for reasons including health issues, family commitments, after maternity leave for child care, etc.
  • Awareness and Training Programmes: S.S. Rana & Co. periodically conducts workshops/trainings for the awareness of employees. Instances include a workshop on “Financial planning, tax saving and financial security” by Financial Counselor of repute and a Workshop on “Female Healthcare” by a Doctor from the reputed Sita Ram Bharti hospital.
  • Maternity Leave: The facility of maternity leave is extended to the employees as a matter of right in our organization. Maternity Leave is given for a minimum 3 months and more for proper care of child and mother.
  • Corporate Moms: We acknowledge and appreciate working mothers and have awarded them with the title of “Corporate Moms” on the occasion of the Firm’s 25th anniversary on September 1, 2014.
  • Prevention of Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy: The firm also has an Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee in place, headed directly by Mrs. Bindra Rana, Founding Partner. Regular meetings are held by the committee wherein policies are discussed and implemented for providing a safe working environment to our women employees. All the issues are taken up by the committee very tactfully and effectively, maintaining confidentiality at all levels. 
India:The President of India confers the Nari Shakti Puraskar to TIFAC
The Hon’ble President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, on the 8th of March, 2016 conferred the Rani Lakshmibai Award (Nari Shakti Puraskar 2015) to TIFAC for its work under the scheme KIRAN-IPR for women empowerment in R&D through IPR training.

TIFAC, an acronym for Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council is an autonomous organization set up in 1988 under the Department of Science & Technology to look ahead in technologies, assess the technology trajectories, and support technology innovation by network actions in select technology areas of national importance. TIFAC continues to strive for technology development of the country by leveraging technology innovation through sustained and concerted programmes in close association with academia and industry.

The Nari Shakti Puraskar award is given every year on International Women’s Day by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to both Institutions and Individuals for their contributions towards Women Empowerment in the country. TIFAC was awarded in the institutions category for its work for KIRAN-IPR, and was received by Dr. Prabhat Ranjan, Executive Director of TIFAC at the Rashtrapati Bhavan . The Award consists of citation and a cash prize of INR 200,000.

The KIRAN-IPR scheme is being implemented by the Patent Facilitating Center (PFC) of the TIFAC. It strives to recognize the contributions of women in the field of science and serves as a catalyst to encourage more women to seek a career in science and technology. It recognizes the deep rooted social problem for women in India who cannot pursue a professional career due to a plethora of domestic reasons. And for this purpose, the training is designed in such a way that it allows women to work from their homes and thus maintain a healthy work-life balance. According to information released by the Patent Facilitating Center, about 400 women have already been trained under the scheme, out of which a total of 138 have cleared the Patent Agent Examination conducted by the Indian Patent Office. Another unique statistic, which serves only to commend the work done by the scheme is that around 10 % of the active patent professionals in the country are from this scheme.

The Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on March 12, 2016, inaugurated the Second Edition of the week-long ‘Festival of Innovation’ at the Rastrapati Bhavan (Presidential Residence). The main objective to hold the week-long event is to boost the grassroots-level innovations across the country. It is being celebrated from March 12-19, 2016, and was organized by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in collaboration with the Indian President’s Office.

The festival commenced with the inauguration of the “Exhibition of Innovations” at the Sports Grounds of the Presidential Estate. The inauguration was an invite only closed door event where S.S. Rana & Co. representatives were also in audience. Subsequent events that will go on till the 19th of March are open to the General Public.

At the event, among a host of other things, the Hon’ble President also released a book titled “Festival of Innovation – 2015” authored by Dr. Harshvardhan, Indian Minister of Science and Technology. The exhibition also showcases several innovations including a tractor-driven onion transplanter, multi-crop thresher, foot operated page-turning device for differently-abled and posture correcting chair, among others.

Besides these, the festival will have three exhibitions, two workshops, four group discussions, two award presentation ceremonies and round-tables on different topics during the week. Some highlights of the festival were a keynote address by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on March 13 and presentation of Visitor's Award on the March 14.