IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (December 13-19)

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And There Was (N)one Trademark: Delhi HC holds Agatha Christie’s novel as a Distinctive Trademark

Recently, the Delhi High Court set aside an order dated 14th January, 2021 which refused to grant registration of trademark to Agatha Christie’s book, “And There Were None” to a Company established in 1955 by the writer. The Court directed the Registry to allow the registration of the mark under Classes 9, 16 and 41 of the Schedule to the Trademark Rules, 2017.

The mark was denied registration for the reason that the applied trademark lacked ‘distinctiveness’. Justice Hari Shankar observed that the mark is neither descriptive nor deceptively similar to any other registered trademark. Further, the mark pertains to be distinctive in the categories under which its registration is sought.

Justice Hari Shankar further remarked that Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India partakes the right to register a mark which one intends to provide good or services. He also clarified to the Registrar of Trademarks that he is an ‘avowed aficionado and admirer of Agatha Christie’.

The copy of the order dated 8th December, 2021 can be accessed here.

Madras High Court: Youtuber has the same rights as a journalist

Observing that social media personalities commenting on public affairs are also entitled to the right to freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by journalists and the media, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Dec 14, 2021 quashed a sedition case registered against YouTuber M Maridhas for his controversial social media posts on the recent helicopter crash in Coonoor. Passing the order on a petition filed by Maridhas, Justice GR Swaminathan observed, “A ‘YouTuber’ or any social media personality regularly commenting on public affairs would also be entitled to the very same rights which are accorded to journalists and the media under Article 19(1)(a) — Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression—of the Constitution.”

Convicted journalist denied relief by the Supreme Court for his defamatory articles against a lawyer

The Bench comprising of CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli refused to entertain a special leave petition filed by a journalist, convicted through an order granted by the Karnataka High Court.

The case comprises of a complaint made by the lawyer against the journalist under Section 501 of the IPC. The complaint alleged that the accused who was the Editor, Printer and Publisher of a Kannada weekly newspaper, ‘Tunga Varthe’ published several articles, making baseless remarks against the complainant with the intention to harm his reputation.

The Bench reprimanded the journalist for the language used by him in his articles and upheld the High Court’s decision of holding the articles as extremely offensive and a clear attack on the reputation and character of a person.

The order dated 17th December, 2021 can be accessed here.

An ex-judicial officer might be summoned by Kerala High Court over a Facebook post

The Kerala High Court might issue summons to an ex-judicial for enforcement of his personal appearance for a matter pertaining to certain Facebook posts made by him, if the post proves to be authentic.

The issue arose when the officer made certain negative remarks about the Court on his Facebook post regarding a case that was being handled by the Court. The Kerala High Court delved into the effects of social media and how it being a powerful tool, can still be used maliciously by some people.

This action of the Court of pursuing the complaint against the impugned post has proved to be an exception as establishment of a valid connection between the post and the case can prove to be an obstruction to administration of justice.

The interim order dated 17th December, 2021 can be accessed here.

Twitter in a tussle with Sameer Wankhede and his wife

In the matter of civil proceedings being initiated by the NCB Zonal Director, Sameer Wankhede, and his wife against social media companies such as Google India, Facebook and Twitter, the couple has sought permanent injunction from social media companies putting up fake and malicious stories about them.

Accordingly, Twitter has issued a 22-pages reply wherein they have contended that social media intermediaries have no control over the content being posted on the platform by the users and they are immune to such actions under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Further, the social media giant also held that the hashtags and profiles posting them cannot be removed en masse.

Twitter has also questioned the jurisdiction of the court and the maintainability of the suit. This suit has been filed in relation to the ongoing legal tussle between Sameer Wankhede and Maharashtra minister, Nawab Malik over the minister’s allegations against the officer and his family.

No case has gone to Tier 3 for Digital Media Ethics Code violation: Justice Sikri

Publishers of online curated content have successfully implemented the three-tiered redressal mechanism for addressing grievances regarding violations of the Digital Media Code of Ethics as set forth by the IT Rules 2021, said former Supreme Court justice Arjan Kumar Sikri. “No case has gone to tier-3 so far for Digital Media Ethics Code violation,” he noted while addressing the Pixels conference organized by IAMAI. Justice Sikri chairs IAMAI’s grievance redressal board formed as a part of the DPCGC.

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