Indian courts equipped to tackle international cases of IPR

Indian Courts are well equipped to handle International cases relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Copyright, as a plethora of changes have been introduced in the existing laws here as per the Berne Convention and TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Delhi High Court today said. Speaking at a function organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to mark the World Intellectual Property Day, Justice Kaul said the Judiciary has always played a proactive role in the protection of Intellectual Property Rights and has invented and extended general principles to cover such cases. The Courts, he said, have extended its concept of cause of action in IPR cases and have not gone by traditional concept of the place of residence of the defendants. The courts have dealt cases even by deviating the general principle laid down under Section 20 of CPC extended flexibility in jurisdiction, Justice Kaul said. The concept of trans-border reputation was introduced for the first time in the Apple Computer case where the court held that though the trade mark apple was not in use in India, it had a reputation in India in relation to computers as information had flown in through various sources, he said. Lauding the lawyers, Justice Kaul said that the Delhi High Court has more than 75 per cent share of total IPR cases filed and the lawyers have the knowledge of the latest amendments of the IPR laws. IPR cases are expeditiously tried and disposed of by courts within three months, he added. India has taken multifarious steps to strengthen the protection given to IP, Justice Kaul said, adding there has been amendments in the legislative enactments to give effect to the International Conventions and Treaties to which India is a signatory. The Patents Acts, 1970 went through various amendments to incorporate India’ s obligation under the TRIPS agreement. He further added that the agreement mandated allowing mail-box applications are a pre requisite for enforcement of the product patent regime. The most controversial aspect of the TRIPS agreement was, Justice Kaul said, to grant product patent to food and pharmaceutical products which was changed by the 2005 amendment. Justice Kaul said as per the TRIPS agreement, India enacted the Trade Marks Act, 1999 to ensure protection to many well known International marks. Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Act, 2001 was introduced to facilitate the growth of seed industry. Geographical Indications of Goods (registration and Protection)Act, 1999 and Semi-conductor Integrated Circuit Layout Design Act, were also some of the legislations introduced in the country to comply with the TRIPS agreement, Justice Kaul said. The administrative machinery to enforce the IPRs in India has also been equipped and there has been an increase in anti-piracy measures. Special cells have been set up, training programme for the police to conduct raids against counterfeit products have been set up. Lauding the role of CII, FICCI and other Govt agencies to create awareness and better enforcement of IPRs, Justice Kaul said that though huge strides have been taken in respect of IP Laws, some attention is needed in the areas of non conventional trademarks like sound marks, smell marks etc, which have gained recognition abroad. Justice Kaul said in India there was a need to increase awareness of IPRs. There is a direct link between economic growth and IP Scenario in a country, he said. In September 2007 World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Japan office conducted a survey in Six Asian Countries - China, India, Japan, Malasiya, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam, which gave positive results. It said strengthening of a company’s IP portfolio helps in wealth creation and increased awareness in brand and products. Justice Kaul said that while granting injunction to Pharma companies in the cases of some life saving drugs, the court has to hold the interest of the public at large. Quoting the former US president Abraham Lincoln’s words who said, ‘whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights, human rights must prevail, Justice Kaul said, ‘Though there should be laws to protect the hard work and effort of the inventor, we must not forget that the purpose of IP laws is not to create a monopoly or only to benefit a few individuals or corporations, but to benefit the society as a whole by giving them access to new choices, products, inventions and literature etc.’

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