Intellectual Property Rights In The Era Of Digital Streamline

Khurana and Khurana


K&K is among leading IP and Commercial Law Practices in India with rankings and recommendations from Legal500, IAM, Chambers & Partners, AsiaIP, Acquisition-INTL, Corp-INTL, and Managing IP. K&K represents numerous entities through its 9 offices across India and over 160 professionals for varied IP, Corporate, Commercial, and Media/Entertainment Matters.
Intellectual property rights deals with four major categories which includes copyrights, patents, trademark, geographical indication and design. All these rights are dependent on a central idea...
India Intellectual Property
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Intellectual property rights deals with four major categories which includes copyrights, patents, trademark, geographical indication and design. All these rights are dependent on a central idea of innovation which stands unique to oneself. In the growing age of the digital era which is accompanied by artificial intelligence, it is very difficult for the authentic owners or innovators to be able to get their rights without it having already been infringed. In the realm of digital streaming, methods such as making copies of movies, selling fake products with the original product's brand name, selling designs with the same design of the original, but changing the boxing, advertising products by utilising the fame of a popular brand for their own products based out of similar or copied design, can be very easily seen in today's world. The intellectual property rights in India are guided by their various acts such as: The copyright (amendment) act, 2012, The trademarks (amendment) act, 2010, The patents (amendment) act, 2002, and, The designs act, 2000. Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.


In India intellectual property rights are governed by the ministry of commerce and industry. One of the most common issues in the digital world is copyright infringement. The most common form or way to promote this is rogue websites. These are the websites that sell pirated or copied media from across the globes. The most common way that we can usually see copyright infringement happening around us is the copying and selling of movie or audiobooks that are pirated. Another common form of copyright infringement can be seen in audio-visual works. Multiple songs are often downloaded and used from pirated sites or networks that illegally download the official song and sell it either for free or for a fee. Another common feature is software piracy where the similar coding of a software is analysed and after editing a few things, a very identical yet different version of the same software is promoted. This is included in the copyright infringement as of the ground level of the work, it is the same initial software. In the fast-advancing realm of social media, the most dangerous and commonly found copyright infringement is the sharing, downloading, uploading and other types of copying of someone's images, videos or content on social media. This form of copyright infringement doesn't just harm or create issues in the intellectual property world but in general turns out to be extremely risky and life threatening to some extent for the person whose intellectual property has been copied. Young girls are often threatened or bullied as well as blackmailed due to such issues. Writers or poets lose credibility as well as followers because of this issue. A few cases highlighting copyright infringement in India include:

  • YRF vs. Sri Sai Ganesh Productions: The court held that Sri Sai Ganesh productions had copied the film and this replication thus results in copyright infringement
  • Hawkins Cooker Ltd. Vs. Magicook Appliances: The court held that Magicook was unlawfully using the copyrighted label of Hawkins Cooker and prohibited them from doing this further.
  • Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. Vs, YouTube and Google: The court directed YouTube and Google to cease any sort of engagement such as distribution or display of any works produced by Super Cassettes Industries Ltd.

Now that we have discussed copyright infringement, another common issue in the digital era that revolves around intellectual property is Patent trolls. A patent troll can be said to be the companies that do not produce their own patents, rather steal the patent or innovation from someone else. They pay a price for acquiring the patent but also try to threaten the original patent creators of legal actions as now the company has acquired the patent rights. Most of these companies steal the patents from other companies only to threaten them and thus in the process acquire certain licensing fees. These patent trolls do not aim at selling any new products, rather, they just want to produce licensing fees in the form of threatening companies that are third parties and forcing them to purchase licenses. In India, a few things that can help prevent this is the mandatory requirement for each patent to have a compulsory license. This helps the patent owner get his or her rights but also ensures that since patents will be largely manufactured and sold as soon as patent right is granted, the violation or infringement of patent rights will stand curbed to a maximum extent. Compulsory license is mentioned Under section 83 of the copyright (amendment) act, 2012. In case a patent is not put into use, it may also be opposed. This means that a patent can still be opposed. This right has been granted under Section 25(2) of the patents act. The patent act after its amendment also explicitly provides how the validity of a patent does not in any matter depend upon the fact that the patent has been granted. In case there is a suit filed, the patentee is the one that will have to prove the validity of their patent. A few cases where the patent was revoked are:

  • Spice Mobile Ltd. Vs. Somasundar Ramkumar: The patent granted to the respondent was revoked on the ground of lack of inventive step and lack of novelty.
  • Aditi Manufacturing Co. Vs. Bharat Bhogilal Patel: The patent was revoked on the ground that same machine had been purchased earlier to the date of invention claimed.

The third category that we will be looking into is design. The Design Act, 2000 already provides a section for the remedy of piracy in case of registered designs. Section 22 of the act says: Any fraudulent or obvious imitation of a Design that is already registered without the consent of the owner or proprietor of the registered design is unlawful. Further the act also prohibits any material which even resembles the registered design. This serves as a great mechanism to help curb the piracy. However, in the digital world with everything available on the internet, it still poses as a great risk since people tend to copy designs and use it for a long time without it coming to the notification of the proprietor of that design. A few cases where we can see infringement in the case of designs are:

  • M/Whirlpool of India Ltd. Vs. M/Videocon Industries Ltd.: The court in this case held that there was a similarity in both the designs which was not allowed Under section 22. Thus, Videocon industries were held liable for the infringement of Whirlpool's design rights.
  • Sree Vishnu Bottles vs. State of Tamil Nadu: The High Court dismissed the writ petition because they could not prove their claims. A design needs to be published to be infringed. Mere existence in records doesn't count.

The last most common form is Trademark Infringement. The most common platform for this type of infringement is e-commerce platforms. This kind of infringement occurs when third parties tend to copy or use a similar kind of trademark that already exists. The tiny enterprises often tried to replicate the bigger brands and their goodwill to create a profit for themselves. However, sometimes bigger brands try to exploit the trademarks of very small brands too. A few cases of trademark infringement are:

  • Amazon Vs. Happy Belly Bakes: The court held that since Happy Belly Bakes had been using its name since 2008, Amazon had infringed their trademark rights.
  • Daimler Benz Atkiengesellschaft & Anr. Vs. Hybo Hindustan: The court held that the logo of Mercedes is a famous one and selling undergarments under that name was an infringement of their right.


In today's growing world of highly digitalised network, every intellectual property right stands under the fear of infringement. However, by taking the right measures and filing cases under the right provisions as provided by law, one can also safeguard their intellectual property. Also, one should always keep in mind the area and limitations of their intellectual properties too and if it comes down to the level of filing a case, one must rightfully be able to prove the validation as well as existence of the rights of their individual intellectual properties.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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