Intellectual Property Rights Workshop
As part of our initiatives to combat counterfeits, which has been plaguing our industry, and also to make progressive steps in the field of Intellectual Property, IBHA collaborated in a workshop with the support of Anand and Anand and Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), INTA and REACT. This was held on March 9, 2019 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The workshop primarily centred on “The Challenges faced in Enforcement Actions in Delhi NCR”, focusing on challenges faced by IP owners during enforcing their Civil and Criminal actions and practical issues faced by Police and Customs in enforcing appropriate remedies under the law. Eminent speakers from the government, judiciary, and enforcement agencies discussed these issues.
The workshop was divided into three panels:
- Enforcement of IPR in the digital landscape – online counterfeiting and liabilities of intermediaries
- Civil and criminal enforcement of IPR in Delhi; and
- The need for interdepartmental collaboration and a centralized IPR agency.
The panels featured eminent speakers from the government, judiciary, enforcement agencies, and corporates.
The keynote speaker, Honourable Justice Manmohan of the Delhi High Court, highlighted that counterfeiting is a growing menace that has gained momentum due to the rapid ascent of e-commerce. This development, coupled with newer technologies and concerns surrounding intermediary liability and privacy, pose constant challenges for enforcement agencies and the judiciary. Justice Manmohan emphasized that the immediate solution is for the country’s entire IPR machinery including courts, police, and customs, to work together, interact more closely, and keep sharing knowledge on an on-going basis.
Panel 1 – Enforcement of IPR in the digital landscape: online counterfeiting
This panel featured the Honourable Justice Prathiba M. Singh of the High Court of Delhi; Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry; and Dr. Ajai Kumar Garg, Director, HoD International Cooperation & Bilateral Trade, Innovation and IPR, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. The panel was moderated by Pravin Anand, Managing Partner, Anand and Anand.
Justice Singh has created landmark jurisprudence through her judgments, providing clarity on the legal principles of e-commerce platforms’ determination of intermediary liability and applicability of safe harbour provisions. She suggested that the law related to intermediary liability will keep evolving and that the right balance will need to be struck at some point. In conclusion, Justice Singh pondered over new challenges that would arise as and when artificial intelligence seeps completely into the e-Commerce domain. Mr. Aggarwal provided the government’s viewpoint, noting that the topic of intermediary liability is of great importance for the Indian economy, especially considering the astounding number of Internet and smartphone users in India. He said that the Indian government is committed, the judiciary has been emphatic, and the legal fraternity and industry have been active in establishing a healthy IP ecosystem,and that in a few years, this ecosystem will be totally transformed.
Dr. Garg felt that we need to think of technological solutions to effectively deal with online counterfeiting. Section 115(4) of the Trademark Act, 1999 was brought up too, with Mr. Anand stressing that this provision has caused serious problems in effective IPR enforcement in the country. He noted INTA’s call to the government for its amendment.
Panel 2 – Civil and criminal enforcement of IPR in Delhi
This panel featured the Honourable Justice J.R. Midha of the High Court of Delhi; Suvashis Choudhary, Additional Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Delhi Police; and Arvind Gopal, Attorney, Digital Crime Unit, Microsoft India. The panel was moderated by Saif Khan, Partner, Anand and Anand.
Justice Midha shared various anecdotes as a judge presiding over IP and other matters, underlining that he believes each attorney should present the client’s case in a manner that makes it clear to the court that the represented client is an honest litigant. All panelists agreed that while there is a need to train and reorient investigative agencies, brand owners and their lawyers must also make efforts to understand the challenges faced by the police.
Panel 3 – The need for interdepartmental collaboration and a centralized IPR agency
This panel featured Komal Kalha, Senior Counsel, Office of South Asia, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Dr. S. Eswara Reddy, Drugs Controller General of India; Subodh Singh, Joint Commissioner of Customs; and Abhishek Dhoreliya, CEO, MarkScan. The panel was moderated by M.S. Bharath, Partner, Anand and Anand, and Co-Chair, INTA India Global Advisory Council.
In his introduction to the session, Mr. Bharath discussed INTA’s white paper “Guide to Building an Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center”; and copies were made available to the audience. He clarified that this Center would only act as a platform for information exchange and improved coordination between various agencies that deal with IP, but would not have any powers of enforcement.
Ms. Kalha briefly explained the functioning of the U.S. National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, and highlighted key benefits the U.S. IP ecosystem has witnessed since its inception. Mr. Singh said that if India were to have an IPR Center, it would be vital to first identify participating agencies and develop clear protocols and mechanisms.
Mr. Dhoreliya echoed this, noting that the government bodies involved in tackling counterfeiting are numerous; in addition, he urged looking at digital solutions to counterfeiting, such as introducing charge-back schemes. Dr. E Reddy DCGI – CDSCO said that in any such proposed Center, information sharing would be imperative and all agencies involved would need to work for a singular purpose. The panelists agreed that active industry participation would be essential for the successful functioning of such a Center.
In all, the event was a huge success and was widely appreciated.