Tagged: #TRIPS

Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Part II – South and East Asia

One of the most popular posts in The IP Exporter’s history was a posting last year entitled Enforcing Online Copyright Protections Abroad: Understanding Foreign Takedown Notice Requirements, which detailed how copyright owners and certain licensees of works (collectively “Rights Holders”) can directly enforce their rights in their works against foreign hosted websites in some of the world’s major markets (U.S., Australia, China, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom).

Since I published that post, I have received numerous requests to provide information on procedures Rights Holders can take to directly enforce their rights online in several other foreign markets. To meet this demand, I have decided to ambitiously attempt to provide a multi-volume posting on the availability of notice and takedown procures in all countries throughout the world, starting with this post on notice and takedown procedures in South and East Asia.

However, before I delve into each country’s online copyright enforcement procedures, Rights Holders need to first evaluate a few issues before utilizing online copyright enforcement measures abroad.

1. Is the Work Entitled to Foreign Protection? A Rights Holder should not consider utilizing online takedown procedures in a foreign country without first establishing that their work qualifies for copyright protection in that foreign country. Often, this depends on whether their work qualifies for protection under: (1) the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) or other bilateral or multilateral treaties; and (2) the national copyright laws of the foreign country in question.

Berne Convention/Treaties. To qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, a Rights Holder’s work must become what is known as “attached.” Attachment requires that either:

  • the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention member state (A list of Berne Convention member states is available here);
  • the author is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention member state;
  • the work is first published (made available to the public) in a Berne Convention member state; or
  • the work is published in a Berne Convention member state within thirty (30) days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention member state.

If a work does not qualify for protection under the Berne Convention, it may qualify for copyright protection in a foreign country under a bilateral or multilateral treaty between the author’s home country and the foreign country in question. If the non-Berne Convention country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has ratified the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the work may qualify for Berne Convention-like protection in other WTO member states.

Additionally, a work may qualify for protection in a foreign country based on a bilateral or multilateral agreement. A database of IP-related treaties can be found here.

National Copyright Protection Requirements. If a work qualifies for protection under the Berne Convention, TRIPS, or another bilateral or multilateral treaty, it must then qualify for protection under the copyright laws of whatever foreign country the Rights Holder wishes to enforce their rights. Many countries have similar copyright protection requirements, yet they do differ. For example a copyright protected work in the U.S. is an “original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” 17 U.S.C. § 102(a). Conversely, a copyright protected work in Japan is “a production in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way and which falls within the literary, scientific, artistic or musical domain.” Copyright Act. No. 48, Art. 2. Although these requirements end up covering much of the same types of works, there may be divergences depending on the type of work in question. A Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified attorney in the country they wish to enforce their rights if they are unsure whether their work qualifies for local copyright protection.

2. Where is the Website’s ISP Subject to Jurisdiction? In order to effectively submit a takedown notice against an infringing website, the infringing website’s Internet service provider (ISP) must be subject to a country that has notice and takedown laws. This requires evaluating whether a notice and takedown country has personal jurisdiction over the ISP in question. Generally, a website’s ISP is only subject to the laws of a country where it is physically located or countries where it is engaged in enough commercial activity to establish personal jurisdiction. Determining an infringing website’s ISP’s location may be completed through conducting a WHOIS database search. However, such a search is a not guarantee that a website ISP’s will be accurately located.

Further, determining whether a website’s ISP is subject to a foreign country’s jurisdiction is a complex legal evaluation that differs from country to country based on each country’s own personal jurisdiction requirements. Again, a Rights Holder should consider consulting with qualified counsel in the country where they wish to submit a takedown notice to determine whether the ISP in question is subject to that country’s jurisdiction.

3. What is the Country’s National Online Copyright Enforcement System? If a work qualifies for copyright protection in a foreign country where an infringing website’s ISP is subject to personal jurisdiction, a Rights Holder then needs to establish whether that country has a notice and takedown system, and if available, such country’s specific takedown procedures.

Below is a brief overview of each South and East Asian country’s copyright enforcement system. However, there are few things to first consider:

Enforcement System Legend: Countries that maintain legal protocols for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown Systems.” Countries that do not have means for Rights Holders to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notification systems, and are instead forced to seek copyright enforcement action through the Courts are referred to as “Judicial Systems.”

Notice Limitations: Unfortunately, even if a country maintains a Notice and Takedown System, an ISP may still refuse to disable a website or website content upon receipt of a takedown notice from a Right Holder. In such instances, a Rights Holder may be forced to seek enforcement through that foreign country’s judicial system in order to remove such content.

Time Sensitivity: As many of the listed countries in this posting are either evaluating or in the process of implementing copyright reforms, either on a national level or through bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, there is the possibility that the following information may soon change.

Here are each country’s online copyright enforcement system:

Afghanistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: Afghanistan is not a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, meaning that foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under Afghan Law. However, works from the U.S. may be entitled to certain legal protections in Afghanistan under the Joint Statement of Commercial Cooperation between U.S. and Afghan governments as both governments agreed to “establish a forum for the exchange of information on commercial matters . . . including intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.” However, the Joint Statement provides no specific details on what rights U.S. Rights Holders are entitled to under Afghan law.

Governing Legislation: Law Supporting the Rights of Authors, Composers, Artists and Researchers (Copyright Law)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bangladesh

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bangladesh does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2000 (Act No. 28 of 2000 – Amended 2005)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Bhutan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Bhutan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act and Industrial Property Act of 2001

Notice Requirements: N/A

Brunei Darussalam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Brunei does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. Particularly, Article 10 of the Electronic Transactions Order (2000) eliminates an ISP’s liability for hosting infringing third party content. However, Brunei may adopt a Notice and Takedown System in the future if the U.S.’ Proposed IPR Chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is adopted.

Governing Legislation: Emergency Copyright Ordinance (2000)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Cambodia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Cambodia is not a Berne Convention member state but is a TRIPS signatory, which requires upholding much of the Berne Convention’s protections. However, Cambodia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

China (PRC)

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although China maintains and a Notice and Takedown System, there has been reports that many of China’s major ISPs fail to takedown hosted content upon receipt of legitimate takedown notices. For example, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Baidu for its 42% takedown rate.

Governing Legislation: Article 14, Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information Networks

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address and contact information;
-The title(s) and website address(es) of the infringing content which is requested to be removed or disconnected;
-Preliminary evidence of the work(s)’ infringement; and
-A request that the ISP remove the infringing content.

East Timor (Timor Leste)

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: No

Overview and Notes: By not being a Berne Convention or TRIPS member state, foreign works may not qualify for copyright protection under East Timorese law. Further, East Timor has not passed any specific copyright legislation since its independence in 2002.

Governing Legislation: N/A

Notice Requirements: N/A

Hong Kong

Enforcement System: Voluntary Notice and Takedown System/Judicial System.

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau drafted a proposed Notice and Takedown system in the Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers, Hong Kong has yet to formally enact a Notice and Takedown system. The Code of Conduct’s notice and takedown provisions have since become voluntary guidelines for Rights Holders and ISPs to manage online copyright infringement complaints.

Governing Legislation: Section 3.5, Form A, Code of Conduct for Online Service Providers (voluntary guidelines), Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528) (mandatory)

Notice Requirements (from the Code of Conduct):

-The Rights Holder’s name, address for service in Hong Kong, contact telephone number, and any other relevant contact information;
-Particulars of the copyright work(s) alleged to be infringed including the name or description of the copyright work(s), type of work(s), date of creation or first publication of the copyright work(s), and name of the current owner of the work;
-A statement confirming that the Rights Holder submitting the complaint is the copyright owner or authorized representative of the copyright owner;
-Identification and online location of the material and/or activity which is the subject of the alleged infringement;
-In cases of information location tools, identification of the reference or link to the material or activity in question and its location;
-Description of how the material or activity in question infringes the copyright owner’s rights in the copyright work(s);
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder believes in good faith that use of the material, or conduct of the activity in the manner complained of is not authorized by the law of Hong Kong, the copyright owner or its authorized representative(s);
-A request that the ISP send a copy of the notice to its subscriber whose account for online services has been used or involved in the alleged infringement;
-A request that the ISP remove the allegedly infringing material, disable access to the infringing material/activity;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder declares that the information contained in this notice is true and accurate to the best of his knowledge and belief;
-A declaration that the submitting Rights Holder understands that it is an offence to make any false statement in this notice (the maximum penalty of which is a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment of 2 years), and that he or she is also liable to pay compensation by way of damages to any person who suffers loss or damage as a result of the false statement; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

India

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System (temporary)

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: India’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down 36 hours after a Rights Holder submits a takedown notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice of the Rights Holder’s notice submission to the alleged infringer. If the Rights Holder’s notice is satisfactory to the ISP, the ISP will restrict access to the infringing website(s) for 21 days from the date of receipt of the Rights Holder’s notice or until the ISP receives a Court order restricting public access to the alleged infringing website(s), whichever is earlier.

It is important to note that only an owner or an exclusive licensee of a copyright-protected work may submit a notice pursuant to India’s notice and takedown protocols.

Governing Legislation: Rule 75, The Copyright Rules, 2013

Notice Requirements:

-The description of the work infringed with adequate information to identify the work;
-Details establishing that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner or exclusive licensee of copyright in the work;
-Details establishing that the copy of the work which is the subject matter of transient or incidental storage is an infringing copy of the work owned or exclusively licensed by the submitting Rights Holder and that the allegedly infringing act is not covered under section 52 or any other act that is permitted under the Copyright Act (1957);
-Details of the location where transient or incidental storage of the work is taking place;
-Details of the person, if known, who is responsible for uploading the work infringing the copyright of the submitting Rights Holder; and
-Signature and date of the submitting Rights Holder.

Indonesia

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Indonesia does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders. The Indonesian Parliament is reported to be evaluating amendments to its copyright laws that will create a Rights Holder Internet copyright notification system through the Ministry of Communications and Informatics that will evaluate alleged infringements and order that ISPs takedown infringing content. The IIPA has criticized this proposed copyright enforcement system as it does not provide injunctive relief against non-compliant ISPs, nor a repeat infringer policy, or allow Rights Holders to submit complaint notices directly to ISPs.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 19 of July 29, 2002 on Copyright

Notice Requirements: N/A

Japan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven (7) days after a Rights Holder submit a notice to an ISP, and the ISP provides notice to the alleged infringer.

Governing Legislation: Article 3(2)(ii), Act No. 137 0f 2001 (Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders)

Notice Requirements:

-Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
-Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
-The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
-The reasoning why the Rights Holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
-The Rights Holder’s contact information.

Laos

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Laos does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 01/NA of December 20, 2011, on Intellectual Property

Notice Requirements: N/A

Macau

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Macau does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Decree-Law no. 43/99/M (Regime of Copyright and Related Rights)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Malaysia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Malaysia recently enacted copyright reforms that permit Rights Holders to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove hosted infringing content within 48 hours of notice of the alleged infringement to the ISP. However, Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols do not providing specific notice requirements.

Governing Legislation: Article 43H – Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012

Notice Requirements: As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Maldives

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Maldives is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory that requires that  Maldives uphold much of the Berne Convention’s protections. Maldives does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright and Related Rights Act 2010

Notice Requirements: N/A

Mongolia

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Mongolia’s copyright legislation requires that ISPs prevent any copyright violation on websites they host and provide Right Holders the ability to enforce their rights through submitting reports to the ISPs of such violations. However, the legislation provides no specific requirements for such “reports.”

Governing Legislation: Article 25, Law of Mongolia on Copyright and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: Unspecified

Myanmar

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes*

Overview and Notes: Myanmar is not a Berne Convention member state, yet is a TRIPS signatory. However, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Myanmar’s current copyright laws “do not prescribe copyright of other countr[ies] to be recorded in Myanmar and copyright obtained in other countries can not be enforced in [Myanmar].”

Further, Myanmar does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act of 1914

Notice Requirements: N/A

Nepal

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Nepal does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act, 2059 (2002)

Notice Requirements: N/A

North Korea

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: North Korea does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright Law of the DPPK (Amended by Decree No. 1532 of February 1, 2006)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Pakistan

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Pakistan does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing LegislationCopyright (Amendment) Act, 1992

Notice Requirements: N/A

Philippines

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Philippines does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: E-Commerce Act (Republic Act. No. 8792)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Taiwan

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Taiwan’s notice and takedown protocols establish that allegedly infringing content will be taken down five days after notice is provided from a Rights Holder to an ISP, and from the ISP to the alleged infringer.

Governing Legislation: Article 3 – Regulations Governing Implementation of ISP Civil Liability Exemption, Article 90terdecies – the Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-The Rights Holder’s name, address, and telephone number (or fax number or e-mail address);
-The name(s) of the copyrighted work(s) being infringed;
-A statement requesting the removal of, or disabling of access to, the content that allegedly infringes the identified copyrighted work(s);
-Access or relevant information sufficient to enable the notified ISP to identify the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the Rights Holder or the agent thereof is acting in good faith and in the belief that the allegedly infringing content lacks lawful licensing or is otherwise in violation of the Copyright Act; and
-A declaration that the Rights Holder is willing to bear legal liability in the event there is misrepresentation with resultant injury to another.

Thailand

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Prior to its dissolution in December 2013, Thailand’s Parliament had evaluated copyright law reforms to enhance online copyright enforcement. However, such proposed reforms would only allow Thai Courts to issue takedown orders against ISPs hosting infringing content and provided no direct notice and takedown procedures for Rights Holders to directly petition ISPs to remove infringing content.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act B.E. 2537 (1994)

Notice Requirements: N/A

South Korea

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: South Korea adopted notice and takedown protocols mirroring measures under U.S. copyright law (DMCA – 17 U.S.C. § 512) based on a side letter annexed in the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Article 102-103 – Copyright Act

Notice Requirements:

-Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) that appear to have been infringed;
-The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Statement that the submitting Rights Holder has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
-Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the Rights Holder’s behalf; and
-Signature of the submitting Rights Holder.

Singapore

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

Governing Legislation: Section 193(2)(b) – Copyright Act (Chapter 63), Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005

Notice Requirements:

-Name and address of the submitting Rights Holder;
-Submitting Rights Holder address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
-Submitting Rights Holder’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
-Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in complaint or is authorized to act on behalf of the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in the notice;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder requires the ISP to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder or their agent, in good faith, believes that the electronic copy referred to in the notice is an infringing copy of the protected material content;
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
-A statement that the submitting Rights Holder submits to the jurisdiction of the courts in Singapore for the purposes of any proceedings relating to any offense under section 193DD(1) of the Copyright Act or any liability under section 193DD(1)(b) of the Copyright Act.

Sri Lanka

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Sri Lanka does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003

Notice Requirements: N/A

Vietnam

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Although Vietnam recently considered Internet liability reforms as detailed in the proposed Stipulations on the Responsibilities for Intermediary Service Providers in the Protection of Copyright and Related Rights on the Internet and Telecommunications Networks (Joint Circular No. 07/2012/TTLT-BTTTT-BVHTTDL), such reforms have yet to be enacted and do not contain any specific notice and takedown provisions. However, Vietnam may adopt notice and takedown procedures in the future if the U.S.’ draft IPR provisions of the TPP are adopted.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 50/2005

Notice Requirements: N/A

The Trans Pacific Partnership and Its Implications on Online Copyright Enforcement

In recent months, representatives from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) member states have been pushing to finalize a final TPP agreement.[1] A particularly contentious issue in these negotiations has been the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP Agreement. A predominant proposed version, the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, has been controversial as it requires TPP member states to adopt IP standards that are in many cases is on par with those under U.S. law, and in some cases, beyond U.S. law and generally-accepted global IP protection standards in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).[2] As a result, several TPP member states have objected to U.S. Draft IP Chapter, thereby stalling progress towards a final TPP agreement.

Of particular importance in these debates is the online copyright enforcement protections procedures the TPP agreement will mandate for its member states. If enacted, the U.S. IP chapter would likely require TPP member states to adopt copyright enforcement measures that would allow copyright owners, rights holders, or agents thereof (collectively, “Authorized Party”) to directly petition Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove hosted infringing content. Article 16.3(a) of the U.S. Draft IP Chapter requires that TPP member states provide “legal incentives for [Internet] service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” Although ambiguous, adopting such provisions would likely require TPP member states to maintain or enact a form of copyright protection protocols that would allow Authorized Parties to petition ISPs hosting or transmitting infringing content to remove such content.

The main question arising from these potential reforms is whether they would result in TPP member states adopting U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols, or less forceful ISP copyright enforcement measures. Notice and takedown systems generally provide ISPs a safe harbor from liability for hosting or transmitting infringing content if they remove infringing content they host or transmit upon receipt notice from an Authorized Party. In contrast, other TPP member states do not provide copyright owners such a level of protections. Some of these states do not require that a ISP take down allegedly infringing content upon receipt of notice from an Authorized Party to qualify for safe harbors. Others require that Authorized Parties seek judicial copyright enforcement to combat online infringement, which is a more delayed and costly process.

Although not stated in the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, the U.S. may, as it has in previous U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiate that TPP member states adopt notice and takedown protocols in TPP side letters.[3] In previous U.S. FTAs, the U.S. has executed additional annexed agreements, known as “side letters,” where other countries agreed to adopt U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols. This has had varying degrees of success. Australia, Peru and Singapore, among others, have adopted notice and takedown protocols similar to those under the U.S.’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A)) in FTA side letters with the U.S., while Chile rejected adopting such a system.

Similar mixed outcomes could result from the TPP as well. Brunei Darussalam, Mexico and Vietnam do not maintain any ISP copyright enforcement protocols short of judicial action. Further, a number of TPP member states including Canada, Chile and New Zealand maintain online copyright enforcement systems that arguably do not provide the same level of direct and expedient enforcement power or protections to Authorized Parties as notice and takedown systems. Lastly, some TPP member states such as Malaysia that do maintain notice and takedown protocols have called for establishing TPP agreement implementation exceptions for existing domestic legislation.[4] This would likely give TPP member states with weaker online copyright enforcement systems such as Canada, Chile and New Zealand the ability to maintain their less forceful online copyright enforcement systems, while still remaining parties to the TPP Agreement.[5]

Despite these limitations, the TPP’s potential adoption of notice and takedown protocols will ultimately impact the ability to which Authorized Parties can more quickly, cheaply and effectively enforce online copyright protections in the TPP member states. Adoption of notice and takedown protocols will enable Authorized Parties to more easily enforce online copyrights in TPP member states, while making such protocols optional would likely make such enforcement more difficult. Only time will tell whether the U.S. and other notice and takedown proponents will persuade other TPP member states to adopt notice and takedown protocols.

To understand how the TPP would impact individual TPP member state online copyright enforcement systems, the following are brief summaries of the TPP member states’ current online copyright enforcement systems. However, there are a few things to note:

  • Jurisdiction and National Treatment: In order for an Authorized Party to utilize a notice and takedown in a TPP member state, their content must generally qualify for national copyright protection in that TPP member state, and the particular ISP must be subject to the jurisdiction of that country. Further information about these preliminary issues can be found in my March 25, 2013 posting.
  • Enforcement System Legend: As mentioned, online copyright enforcement procedures vary amongst the TPP member states. Countries that maintain a notice and takedown protocols are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown,” while countries that maintain systems that simply require ISPs to notify infringers of their infringing acts without infringing content removal are listed as “Notice and Notice.” Countries that do not have means for Authorized Parties to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notices, and are instead forced to seek judicial action are referred to as “Judicial System.”

TPP Member State Online Copyright Enforcement Systems

United States
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes The U.S. notice and takedown protocols have been implemented in FTAs with Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Singapore and South Korea.
Governing Legislation
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A))
Notice Requirements

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the content owner alleging infringement;
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and wished to be removed or disabled, including any reasonable information that would allow an ISP to locate the material (i.e. website addresses);
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the copyright owner (i.e. address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.);
  5. A statement that the copyright owner has a good faith belief that the use of their content is not authorized by the copyright owner; and
  6. A statement that the information provided is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Australia
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Australia adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Australia FTA.
Governing Legislation
Regulation 20(I-J), 1969 Copyright Regulations
, Schedule 10 (Part 1), 1969 Copyright Regulations
Notice Requirements

  1. The statement: “I, the person whose name is stated below, issue this notification for the purposes of condition 3 of item 4 of the table in subsection 116AH(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 and regulation 20(I) of the Copyright Regulations 1969.”
  2. The statement: “I am the owner (or agent of the owner of the copyright) in the copyright material specified in the Schedule [See number 7 below], being copyright material residing on your system or network.”
  3. (If submitted by a copyright owner) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material.”;
  4. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee of the copyright owner, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material”;
  5. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information and statements in this notice are accurate.”;
  6. The copyright owner or their agent’s name, address, e-mail address, telephone number and fax number; and
  7. An attached schedule to the notice including a description of the copyright material and the location of the infringing content.
Brunei Darussalam
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Brunei does not currently maintain any legal means for Authorized Parties to directly petition ISPs to takedown infringing content. However, recent reports have indicated that Bruneian authorities are evaluating copyright reforms, which may include ISP notice and takedown protocols.[6]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

Canada
Enforcement System Notice and Notice
Overview and Notes Although Canada considered adopting a notice and takedown protocols in 2006, they opted for a notice and notice system in 2012 in order to balance the interests of copyright owners and Internet users.[7]
Governing Legislation
Section 41.25-41.27, The Copyright Act
Notice Requirements

  1. Must be in writing;
  2. State the claimant’s name, address and other relevant communication information;
  3. Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
  4. State the claimant’s interest or right with respect to the copyright in the work or other subject-matter;
  5. Specify the location data for the electronic location to which the claimed infringement relates;
  6. Specify the infringement that is claimed;
  7. Specify the date and time of the commission of the claimed infringement; and
  8. Provide any other information or as provided by other regulations.

Chile
Enforcement System Judicial System (*notice and takedown variation)
Overview and Notes Chile rejected adopting notice and takedown protocols in both the U.S.-Chile FTA and proposed copyright reforms in 2010.[8] Instead, Chile requires that Authorized Parties submit an expedited judicial petition to evaluate alleged infringement and be granted a takedown.
Governing Legislation
Article 85R, Law No. 20.435 (amending Law No. 17.336 on Intellectual Property
Judicial Petition
Requirements

  1. The allegedly infringed rights, with a specific indication of the rights and the infringement procedure;
  2. The infringing material; and
  3. The location of the infringing material in the respective ISP network or system.

Japan
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establishes that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven days after notice is provided from the ISP to the alleged infringer.
Governing Legislation
Article 3(2)(ii), Act No. 137 0f 2001 (Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders)
Notice Requirements

  1. Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
  2. Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
  3. The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
  4. The reasoning why the copyright owner/rights holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
  5. The copyright owner/rights holder’s contact information.

Malaysia
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Malaysia enacted copyright reforms in 2010 that permit Authorized Parties to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove infringing content within 48 hours of notice to the alleged infringer from the ISP. However, The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols for not providing enough details about notice requirements and enforcement procedures.[9]
Governing Legislation
Article 43H, Copyright (Amendment) Act 2010
Notice Requirements As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific content requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Mexico
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Mexico has no legal procedures for Authorized Parties to remove infringing online content short of seeking judicial action. It is also important to note that Mexican telecommunications laws prohibit ISPs from disclosing their customers’ personal information.[10]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

New Zealand
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown-Judicial System Mix (aka Three Strikes)
Overview After enacting notice and takedown protocols in 2008, New Zealand repealed them in February 2010. They were replaced with a Three Strikes System, requiring Authorized Parties to submit multiple notices to an ISP, and a takedown application to the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal in order to obtain the removal of infringing content. The Three Strike System subjects the Authorized Party to fees of NW$25.00 (US$20.00) per notice, and NZ$200.00 (US$208.00) per application.[11]
Governing Legislation
Section 92C and 92D, Copyright Act 1994
;
Section 4, Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Regulations 2011
Notice Requirements

  1. Copyright owner’s name;
  2. Copyright owner’s contact details (e-mail address, telephone number, physical address, mailing address in New Zealand (if no physical address);
  3. (If a rights owner is acting as an agent for the copyright owner) Evidence of the rights owner’s authority to act as agent for the copyright owner;
  4. Identify the IP address at which the infringements are alleged to have occurred;
  5. The date on which the infringements are alleged to have occurred at that IP address;
  6. For each copyright work in which copyright is alleged to have been infringed: (i) the name of the copyright owner in the work; (ii) the name of the work, along with any unique identifiers by which it can be identified; (iii)
 the type of work it is (in terms of section 14(1) of the Act); (iv) 
the restricted act or acts (in terms of section 16(1) of the Act) by which copyright in the work is alleged to have been infringed; (v) the New Zealand date and time when the alleged infringement occurred or commenced, which must specify the hour, minute, and second; and (vi)  the file sharing application or network used in the alleged infringement; and
  7. A statement that, to the best of the rights owner/copyright owner’s knowledge, the information provided in the notice is true and correct; and that statement must be verified by a signature (physical or digital) of the rights owner/copyright owner or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the rights owner/copyright owner.

Peru
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Peru adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Peru Free Trade Agreement.
Governing Legislation Copyright Law (Legislative Decree No. 822)
Notice Requirements

  1. Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  2. Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) appeared to have been infringed;
  3. The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the complaining party (or its authorized agent);
  4. Statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its owner, its agent or the law;
  5. Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the complaining party is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the owner’s behalf; and
  6. Signature of the person giving notice.
Singapore
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore FTA.
Governing Legislation
Section 193C(2)(b) Copyright Act (Chapter 63)
, Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005
Notice Requirements

  1. Name and address of the complainant (if acting on the copyright owner’s behalf);
  2. Complainant address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
  3. Complainant’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
  4. Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
  5. A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  6. A statement that the complainant is the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in complaint or is authorized to act on behalf of the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in the notice;
  7. A statement that the complainant requires the network service provider to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
  8. A statement that the complainant or their agent, in good faith, believes that the electronic copy referred to in the notice is an infringing copy of the protected material content;
  9. A statement that the complainant is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
  10. A statement that the complainant submits to the jurisdiction of the courts in Singapore for the purposes of any proceedings relating to any offense under section 193DD(1) of the Copyright Act or any liability under section 193DD(1)(b) of the Copyright Act.

Vietnam
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Although Vietnam recently adopted Internet liability reforms under the Internet Laws (Decree No. 72/2013), such reforms were silent on online copyright enforcement. The IIPA has criticized Vietnam for failing to adopt effective procedures to address online piracy administrative complaints.[12]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A


**Important Note**
: Even if a country maintains notice and takedown protocols, an ISP is generally not obligated to take down infringing content despite legal incentives to do so. Those with further questions about a TPP member state’s online copyright enforcement procedures should seek qualified counsel in that particular country.


[1] Joint Press Statement TPP Ministerial Meeting Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Aug. 2013, available at http://www.ustr.gov/Joint-Press-Statement-TPP-Ministerial-Brunei.
[2] See Sean Flynn, Margot Kiminski, Brook Baker and Jimmy Koo, Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property: American University Washington College of Law, 3, Dec. 6, 2011, available at http://infojustice.org/tpp-analysis-december2011.
[3] Id. at 50.
[4] Copyright Issues in the TPP: Malaysia, Public Citizen, 2012, available at http://www.citizen.org/TPP-Copyright-Issues-MY#_ftnref.
[5] See id.
[6] See Calls For Brunei To Carry Tougher Copyright Laws, The Brunei Times, Aug. 10, 2013, available at http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2013/08/10/calls-brunei-carry-tougher-copyright-laws.
[7] Paul Chwelos, Assessing the Economic Impacts of Copyright Reform on Internet Service Providers, Industry Canada, Jan. 2006, available at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ippd-dppi.nsf/eng/ip01090.html; Bob Taratino, Online Infringement: Canadian “Notice and Notice” vs US “Notice and Takedown”, Heenan Blaikie LLP, Jun. 27, 2012, available at http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e0e3ffdb-a96f-4176-add3-92fd2812d4bc.
[8] Chile’s Notice-and-Takedown System for Copyright Protection: An Alternative Approach, Center for Democracy & Technology, Aug. 28, 2012, available at https://www.cdt.org/files/pdfs/Chile-notice-takedown.pdf.
[9] IIPA 2012 Report: Malaysia, IIPA, 207-08, 2012, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2012/2012SPEC301MALAYSIA.PDF.
[10] IIPA 2013 Report: Mexico, IIPA, 210, 2013, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2013/2013SPEC301MEXICO.PDF.
[11] Section 92A Bill Introduced in Parliament Today, Behive.Gov.Nz, Feb. 23, 2010, available at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/section-92a-bill-introduced-parliament-today.
[12] IIPA 2013 Report: Vietnam, IIPA, 289, 2013, available at http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2013/2013SPEC301VIETNAM.PDF.

The Colonel and Hitler: How KFC Could Have Handled Trademark Tarnishment in Thailand

Earlier this summer, several news outlets reported that U.S. fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands, the operator of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), was considering taking legal action against a fast food restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand shockingly called “Hitler.” The Hitler restaurant was selling fast food under a logo similar to KFC’s iconic logo, replacing the face of Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC’s founder with his signature white suit and string tie, with the face of Adolph Hitler, former German Chancellor, warmonger and mass-murderer.

Despite the Hitler restaurant’s subsequent removal of their offensive interpretation of the KFC logo, the incident highlighted legal issues businesses may face in foreign markets beyond the unauthorized use of their marks (aka infringement). I’m talking about foreign trademark tarnishment. Trademark tarnishment is the unauthorized use of a well-known mark that degrades consumers’ positive associations with such mark, thereby harming the mark’s overall reputation.[1]

What does this mean in an international context? Foreign trademark tarnishment can result in reduced foreign demand for a business’ goods or services, and hinder their ability to take advantage of foreign market opportunities. Although protecting against trademark tarnishment is generally difficult, KFC’s recent altercation with the Hitler restaurant shows ways in which foreign businesses can take advantage of foreign national trademark laws to protect their marks against tarnishment—even if such countries do not main specific protections against tarnishment.

Thai trademark law does not providing express protections against tarnishment. However, KFC’s logo likely qualifies for tarnishment-like protections in Thailand because it would qualify as a “well-known mark.” Unlike the U.S. and other common law countries (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom, among others), Thailand is a “first to file” country, meaning that a mark can normally only obtain full protection under Thai law through registration with the Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP). However, Section 8(10) of the Thai Trademark Act (“Act”) acknowledges rights for unregistered well-known marks.  Since 2005, an unregistered mark can be designated as a well-known mark under Thai trademark law if it meets several evidentiary criteria upon petition to the DIP’s Board of Well-Known Marks.[2]

Similar to most countries, meeting such criteria in Thailand generally requires that a mark possess nationwide recognition. Article 16(2) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Article 16bis of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property require that a mark have nationwide recognition among consumers to qualify as a well-known mark.[3] Likewise, Thailand requires that a mark have nationwide consumer recognition, yet this recognition can be established through predominant use of the mark abroad.[4] Once established, a well-known mark is granted protections in all classes of goods and services.[5]

In the case of KFC, it is likely that their logo qualifies as a well-known mark in Thailand based on KFC’s global and national recognition. KFC has more than 450 outlets in Thailand and approximately 15,000 outlets worldwide—not to mention extensive global advertising and promotional campaigns.[6] These facts likely qualify the KFC logo for well-known mark protection in Thailand (upon petition), giving KFC broad protection under the Act for its logo among multiple if not all classes of goods and services.

By obtaining trademark protection, a trademark owner can normally prevent others from most forms of unauthorized use of such mark. Yet, you might asking yourself, o.k., while supplanting Adolf Hitler for Colonel Sanders is detestable, isn’t it permitted as free speech? The answer varies from country-to-country and from case-to-case. Several major markets including the U.S., the European Union and India, recognize that unauthorized users of a mark may defend against infringement or tarnishment claims through fair use, namely the ability to use a registered mark for legitimate free speech purposes such as parody. In the U.S., such a defense is upheld sometimes in a confusing way. For example, a U.S. Court found that the unauthorized noncommercial use of marks from a L.L. Bean catalogue can be parodied in an adult magazine, but the unauthorized use of the Dallas Cowboys football cheerleading team’s trademark in a pornographic film did not.[7] In terms of Nazis and terrorists, a U.S. Court did allow an unauthorized user to conjure up Nazi and Al-Qaeda themes in their use of Wal-Mart’s well-known mark when such use was non-commercial.[8]

Fortunately for KFC, Thailand does not appear to afford such a fair use defense. Section 109 of the Act prohibits any person who “imitates” a registered mark to mislead the public as to its true ownership, subjecting such user to fines up to 200,000 Baht (approx. US$ 6,250.00) and/or two years imprisonment. Due to the inherent broadness of “imitates” without any express fair use defenses provided under the Act, Thailand appears to possess little to no trademark fair use exceptions for parody or other recognized fair uses. Based on these facts, KFC would likely be able to seek enforcement of their trademark rights in their logo as a well-known mark against the Hitler restaurant.

What’s the takeaway? The moral of this story is that understanding foreign national IP laws can help businesses to find effective solutions to protect against tarnishment and other unauthorized uses abroad, even if such protections are not expressly provided in foreign national legislation. Although few business maintain as well-known marks as KFC’s logo, most businesses can adopt tailored foreign trademark protection strategies to prevent tarnishment or infringement of their marks. Businesses who have tarnishment issues in a particular market should consult with qualified local counsel to understand what protections can be afforded to their marks.


[1] Britt N. Lovejoy, Tarnishing The Dilution by Tarnishment Cause of Action: Starbucks Corp. v. Wolfe’s Borough Coffee, Inc. and V Secret Catalogue, Inc. v. Moseley, Compared, 26 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 623, 626 (2011) (citing J. Thomas McCarthy, 4 McCarthy On  Trademarks & Unfair Competition § 24:89 (4th ed.)).
[2] See Somboon Earterasarun, Criteria In Determining Well-Known Trademarks in Thailand, Tilleke & Gibbins, (2010), available at http://www.tilleke.com/sites/default/files/2010-AsiaIP-Criteria-Well-Known-TM_0.pdf.
[3] See Keola R. Whittaker, Trademark Dilution in a Global Age, 27 U. Pa. J. Int’l Econ. L. 907, 937 (2006).
[4] Department of Intellectual Property Regulations on Recordal of Well-Known Marks B.E. 2548 (AD 2005), Ch. 7, 11.
[5] Say Sujintaya and Jomjai Jintasuwon, Well-known Trademarks in Thailand – A Bump in the Road, Baker & McKenzie, Mar. 23, 2012, available at http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ce280c13-d28e-45f6-8a45-e45a9af8a74e.
[6] About KFC, KFC.com, available at www.kfc.com/about; Yum! Brands, Yum! Financial Data, Restaurant Counts (2012), available at http://yum.com/investors/restcounts.asp.
[7] See L.L. Bean, Inc. v. Drake Publishers, Inc., 811 F.2d 26, 34 (1st. Cir. 1987); compare Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., 467 F. Supp. 366, 376 (S.D.N.Y. 1979).
[8] See Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 537 F. Supp. 2d 1302, 1339-40 (N.D. Ga. 2008) (Use of the terms WAL★OCAUST and WAL-QAEDA in referencing Wal-Mart’s trademarks in tee-shirts was held to be protected parodic noncommercial speech).

Some Patent Considerations When Entering into Relationships with Indian Businesses After Novartis AG v. Union of India

Co-Authored by Shreya Ley, Attorney and Owner of Lay Roots

You may have thought that this summer was all about capturing that certain bohemian-chic essence, but the true trendsetters are all talking about recent developments in Indian patent law. In April, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in Novartis AG v. Union of India & Others that Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis was not entitled to patent protections for their leukemia treatment drug Gleevec. The Indian Supreme Court’s rationale was heavily based on their efforts to stop pharmaceutical “evergreening” – a practice pharmaceutical companies use to extend the life of a patent by seeking patent protection of subsequent improvements to their drugs or alternative, novel uses for such drugs.

Novartis had been attempting to patent a new and improved version of Gleevec. It had been unable to patent the original version of the drug in India because India did not recognize or grant pharmaceutical patents prior to completing their implementation of their World Trade Organization obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 2005. Upon discovering an improved version of Gleevec, Novartis sought to gain patent protection in an effort to halt the rampant manufacturing of generic forms of the drug in India. However, the Indian Supreme Court found that Novartis had not created enough of an improvement in the new Gleevec to qualify the drug as a new invention. Since Novartis’ ruling, Indian courts have subsequently invalidated other similar patent applications as seen last Friday with the invalidation of the Glaxo Smith Kline’s cancer drug Tykerb.

The Novartis decision and other similar Indian court rulings that refused to grant patent protections to pharmaceutical improvements have become the major impetus for foreign businesses and governments to denounce the Indian patent system as being broken, unjust, or perhaps just biased against non-Indian inventors. Around the world, India’s stand against pharmaceutical evergreening has led such entities to decry the general state of innovation in India. Here in the U.S., the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America commented that the Novartis ruling was a sign of India’s “deteriorating innovation environment” and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative remarked that recent Indian patent developments have “raised serious questions about the innovation climate in India and risk hindering the country’s progress towards an innovation-focused economy.” Such rhetoric has inevitably led American and other non-Indian businesses to become weary of working with Indian resident companies and inventors, ”hear ye, hear ye, innovators around the world! Take heed of this warning tale!”

Well, “fear not!” Keep in mind that Novartis and the other related Indian court decisions only apply to pharmaceutical patents as such rulings have been based on a specific provision in the Indian Patent Act relating to incremental innovations in pharmaceuticals. So, given the limited applicability of Novartis and related cases, foreign businesses should simply forge ahead with their Indian business relationships, right?

Not quite so fast. Dealing with any foreign business, inventor, or entity comes with its own challenges and those looking to partner with Indian resident businesses should consider the following before getting too involved.

1.     Get a Comprehensive Agreement in Place Beforehand. Many partnering businesses have a difficult time putting a written agreement together prior to beginning their business relationship. THIS. IS. A. MISTAKE. Getting a clear agreement in place beforehand is important for foreign businesses and their Indian counterparts to prevent future misunderstandings that could potentially derail their objectives and result in substantial costs. Such an agreement should not only clearly outline the parties’ rights and obligations with respect to the Intellectual Property (IP) created in their relationship, it should additionally cover business aspects of the relationship. Although a large part of such relationships is based on the IP, the business side encompasses what happens once IP is created and it is equally important.

Specifically, agreements should address the following:

What is being protected? The agreement should clarify for foreign businesses and their Indian counterparts the types of IP their relationship needs to protect. This can be as simple as designating that both patentable and trade secret innovations will be protected and as complicated as describing protections for each and every potential innovation arising out of the relationship, whether a part of the parties’ original intentions or not. This designation process will not only help to define the scope of the parties’ project, it will also help ensure that the parties seek appropriate protections and enforcement measure for their IP. Completing this exercise is especially important in a cross-border context as the enforcement of IP rights abroad may be more difficult than simply making sure everyone is on the same page from the beginning. India in particular has been notorious for lacking the necessary infrastructure to enforce IP rights efficiently.

Who gets ownership? Establishing ownership of resulting IP from an Indian business relationship is important in an initial agreement because countries vary in the rights they give to owners and inventors. For example, Section 2(p) of the Indian Patent Act uses the term “patentee” for patent owners that is defined as “the person for the time being entered on the register as the grantee or proprietor of the patent.” In contrast, the U.S. does not officially use the term “patentee” and most American inventors would probably assume that patentee refers specifically to inventors. As illustrated above however, “patentee” in India is not necessarily limited to inventors. Therefore, making sure that all parties are clear on who will be named inventors and who will own resulting IP is essential to ensuring a good business relationship with an Indian resident business or inventor.

Who gets paid? This, inevitably, is a difficult topic to discuss, and it is inextricably tied to IP ownership rights. When there is no money coming in, everyone wants to split things down the middle. However, once there is money or it looks like there will be no money, businesses start to quibble. In order to avoid costly, drawn out battles that could prevent businesses from furthering an otherwise fruitful relationship, it is important to outline how all parties are to be compensated for their hard work, time and ingenuity once their relationship has taken off as well as when it has reached its conclusion.

Outlining business plans in writing through an agreement not only forces the parties to talk about their innovation strategy, marketing plans, and production plans; it also enables them to have a clearer direction for their relationship.  If anyone is worried that creating a detailed, written plan will inhibit their creativity, then remember that a good agreement should leave some room for flexibility. Allowing such flexibility can lead to great innovation and profitability. Ultimately, however, having a clear outline of where the parties’ want to go, how they want to get there, and what they need to get to that point (the “what” usually being the IP) can lead to a more profitable and innovative business relationship and can prevent costly future litigation.

2.     Be Conscious of Indian Patent Filing Requirements and Tolling Restrictions. Understanding Indian patent application filing requirements and the interplay between them and other foreign patent filing requirements is essential for businesses to ensure the broadest global patent protections for their resulting innovations. The most important thing for non-Indian businesses to realize is that Section 39 of the Indian Patent Act requires that patent applications for any invention created with the help of Indian residents must first be filed in India. Yes, before filing an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, before filing a U.S. patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and before filing a patent application anywhere else, foreign businesses working with Indian inventors must file a patent application with India’s patent office (The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks (Controller)).

Does that sound unreasonable? Foreign businesses may be able to apply for special permission from the Controller to initially file abroad, but don’t bet on the Controller bending the rules.  If no special permission is given, a foreign business must wait for approximately six weeks after filing in India to file elsewhere.

So, if a foreign business has applied with the Controller and waited six weeks, they can now submit applications anywhere else…right?  Sure!  Just make sure not to dilly-dally because filing in India limits the amount of time a business has to file their patent application with the USPTO and other national patent offices. Knowing the timelines from start to finish of the Indian patent application system and how filing dates in India affect the requirements for filing applications in other countries can greatly impact business decisions.

Parting Thoughts. Go forth and innovate with Indian resident compatriots! The considerations above and recent Indian pharmaceutical patent decisions should not stop foreign businesses from doing so. Collaboration enables people to create great innovations, but every business relationship, whether down the hallway or across the world, has its own challenges and limitations. It’s good for businesses to be honest about those challenges and to create a plan for overcoming them before they run into them. These general suggestions don’t apply to everyone and it’s always wise to consult with qualified local counsel and persons who can advise on the particulars of a specific business. In the end, it will save businesses a lot of time, headaches, and money to simply invest in the relationship by setting it up correctly.

Also, no matter how overwhelming the planning process may seem, just remember, at least you’re not going up against Bollywood screenwriters who generously “borrow” from American film. In cases like those, it’s best to pop some popcorn, settle onto the couch, and enjoy the results – because the results ARE rather glorious, are they not?

New U.S. Trade Secret Strategy to Focus on Expanding Legal Protections Through Trade Agreements

The Obama Administration released a report late last month entitled Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets detailing strategies the U.S. will take to combat trade secret theft, including the pursuit of enhanced foreign legal protections for U.S. trade secrets through ongoing and future trade agreements. Particularly, the Administration will seek to establish new trade secret protections in treaty member states, similar to those provided under U.S. law, in trade agreement negotiations such as Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP; Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, U.S., Vietnam, and potentially the Philippines).

Establishing harmonized trade secret protections in trade agreements—such as the TPP—will likely provide U.S. and treaty member state businesses trade secret protections in treaty countries beyond those currently provided under international IP law. The main standard for international trade secret law, Article 39.2 of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), provides that signatory states must establish means for persons and entities to protect information that is: (a) secret; (b) commercially valuable due to its secretive status; and (c) has been kept secret through reasonable measures. However, Article 39.2 has received criticism for not providing specific requirements about what legal protections WTO member states should adopt for compliance, thereby resulting in disparate and often uneven trade secret protections from country-to-country.

The adoption of U.S.-like trade secret protections in foreign countries such as the TPP member states can help to better ensure that both U.S. and treaty member state businesses have necessary trade secret protections, both at home and abroad. Despite the Obama Administration’s call for such harmonization, it remains to be seen whether U.S.-like trade secret protections will be adopted in ongoing and future trade agreement negotiations.

The Unexpected Victims: U.S. Copyright Owners and The U.S.-Antigua Internet Gambling Trade Dispute

The ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has produced unexpected and potentially harmful consequences for U.S. copyright owners. Antigua announced last week its plans to establish a website selling media and software protected under U.S. copyright law—and will do so without obtaining permission of its copyright owners or paying any form of royalties.

Surprisingly, Antigua has the right to establish this pirating website under international law. It won a 2007 World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement against the U.S. (Dispute Settlement 25 – DS 25), where the U.S.’ blocking of Antiguan online gambling sites from U.S. customers was found to be a violation of the U.S.’ General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) commitments. Consequently, Antigua was granted the right to suspend its WTO obligations to the U.S. under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This has allowed Antigua to legally sell pirated U.S. copyright content in amounts not exceeding $21 million annually until the U.S. removes its blockade of Antiguan gambling websites or pays compensation. As of yet, the U.S. has done neither.

To Antigua’s credit, it has yet to enforce its entitled remedies in the six years since DS 25’s ruling. According to reports, Antigua’s main goal is not to become a copyright pirate—it simply wants the U.S. to comply with DS 25. Yet, the U.S.’ continued failure to do so has made Antigua feel that it has no other choice but to open the pirating website to pressure the U.S. into compliance.

Ultimately, U.S. copyright owners will pay the price for the U.S. government’s failure to comply with DS 25. Reports are that the U.S. government will compensate U.S. copyright owners for lost royalties who are infringed from Antigua’s pirate website. However, international copyright law gives U.S. copyright owners legal protections beyond mere royalties. Qualifying U.S. copyright owners have the right under both U.S. copyright law (17 U.S.C. § 602(a)(2)) and Antiguan copyright law (2003 Copyright Act) to restrict movements of their works across borders for commercial use, namely to prevent the unauthorized trade in protected works known as parallel importation or grey goods. As controlling the availability and flow of protected content is crucial to capitalizing on foreign markets opportunities, U.S. copyright owners whose works are infringed through the Antiguan pirate website will be harmed by their inability to control the flow or distribution of their works, with no apparent recourse or compensation under international, U.S., or Antiguan law.

As any business who has foreign IP protection concerns know, protecting IP rights abroad is hard enough even with protections under international law. The developments in the U.S.-Antiguan trade dispute are harmful beyond mere infringement as they act to undermine what minimum protections U.S. copyrighted works enjoy abroad under international law, and according to commentators, they help to establish a negative precedent that could lead to similar outcomes in larger trade disputes with potentially more severe damages for U.S. copyright owners. Time will tell whether this will come true.

What do you think of the U.S.-Antiguan trade dispute? Will you be affected by it and how?