IPR Report 2013-14

The year 2013-14 has been very special for IPR Cell as this year it has been revived after it went into a state of inactivity for a couple of years. The Cell owes its revival to the invaluable guidance and inspiration extended to the students by its patron Dr. Nilima Bhadbhade, and also to the consistent efforts in the same direction made by Mrs. Suvarna Nilakh.

It has been an incessant effort of the coordinators to run the Cell in a scientific and systematic manner. The day, time and venue for the regular sessions have been fixed and followed religiously for the sake of certainty and to avoid any kind of confusion among students. The sessions are held on every Thursday at 1.45 pm at Hall No.15, Laxmi Building.

The Cell also believes in optimum use of technology and to this effect has an e-mail id, ‘[email protected]’ and a Facebook Page, ‘Intellectual Property Cell, ILS’. A plain paper is circulated among the students in the beginning of every session so as to obtain their names and email-ids. Thereafter, they are added to the contact list of cell’s email-id (which now has 120 contacts) and then the students are sent regular e-mails informing them regarding the theme of every session. Not only this, but the details of each session are also posted on the Facebook Page of the Cell.

The Cell witnessed weekly sessions by students on a host of issues related to the world of Intellectual Property Law. These ranged from basic concepts, the intricacies of interpretation, the elusive drafting of the IP legislation etc. on the one hand to the emerging conflicts and proposed developments in the IP law regime on the other. Further, a few special sessions were organized by the Cell wherein experts were called to present on contemporary topics; a session on ‘IPR and Entertainment Industry’ was conducted by Mr. Dominic D’Souza, Vice President-Legal at Zee TV in July, 2013, on Digital Rights Management by Dr. Nick Scharf, University of East Anglia, UK in January, 2014, and on ‘Character Merchandising & Trademarks’ by Mr. Abhijit Vasmatkar, Assistant Professor, Symbiosis Law School, Pune in February, 2014.

Getting to listen to Mr. D’souza for the second time in two academic sessions was indeed an intellectually enriching experience and we owe a special thanks for the same to Dr. Nilima Bhadbhade.
The guest lecture by Mr. Dominic D’Souza was based on the practical aspect of copyrights and broadcasting rights. He spoke on issues like satellite broadcast rights, the economics of IP enforcement, a reason for high advertisements rates. He also shed light on the ‘maximising’ tendency of the players operating in the entertainment industry. On this, he said that they break their work into the smallest right capable of IP protection and enforcement and then assign it to different entities.

The guest lecture by Dr. Nick Scharf was based on the use of Digital Rights Management for protection against copyright infringement. The same is relevant in the light of the newly introduced S.65 B (in the Copyright Act, 1957) based on Protection of Rights Management Information. As evident from the title of his presentation ‘The Phantom Menace’, he criticized the overreaching attempt of the corporations worldwide to control the copyrighted content beyond an acceptable level. He illustrated the same by giving an example of ‘Apple’ which had limited the music playing capabilities of its products to ‘itunes’. Besides this, he criticized an attempt of UK Parliament to make ISPs liable for copyright infringement by internet users.

The IPR Cell had organised a Guest Lecture on 27th February 2014(Thursday). It was conducted by Mr.Abhijit D.Vasmatkar. Mr.Vasmatkar in his capacity as an Assistant Professor at Symbiosis Law School, teaches various courses to the undergraduates, postgraduates and diploma students. He takes a keen interest in IPR.

The theme of the session was ‘Character Merchandising’.Character merchandising is an emerging area in the field of intellectual property rights. Mr.Vasmatkar through the aid of a PowerPoint Presentation conducted an interactive session. Mr. Vasmatkar explained the topic through a lot of examples which have been discussed in the news currently. He voiced about the current hike in sales of items used by young children like lunch boxes, stationery kits, writing pads which have cartoon characters (like Chota Bheem, Oggy and the Cockroaches, BenTen and others) depicted on them. He also spoke about Mr.Amitabh Bachchan lending his voice to advertisements of various goods and services. The issue regarding the ownership of the characters was put forth in front of the audience by Mr.Vasmatkar. He reiterated the fact that at present there is an absence of any legislation or any provision in any law with respect to this novel concept in India. He also spoke at length regarding the kind of law India needs in respect of it.
The audience was very responsive to his encouraging questions and later asking many of their own. The session was extremely informative and insightful and thus a success.

The Cell also organized its First Essay Writing Competition. The three themes for the competition were centred around the controversial Novartis Judgment, comparative advertisements vis-vis the Trademarks act, 1999 and copyright infringement in cyberspace. The First and Second prizes for the same were bagged by Radhika Gupta, and Arnavi Panda and Ritika Chatterjee (co-authored entry), IV BSL LLB and were conferred on the winners on the Foundation Day. The winning essays will also be pubished in the Abhivyakti Law Journal 2013-14.

The Cell conducted its last and final session for the academic year 2013-14 on 6th March, 2014. It was a memorable session as it witnessed an inspirational address from Dr. Nilima Bhadbhade.

The statistics also back our success story. We have held around 20 sessions with an average turnout of around 25-30 students per session with the same reaching to a number as high as 40-45 students on a few occasions. The email id of the cell has 120 students on its Contact list which means that around 120 students have attended at least one of the sessions conducted by the Cell. The Essay Competition also received a fairly good response as we received 12 entries inspite of the fact that it was the first edition of this competition.

With these small but significant feats to inspire us, we aim at a significant expansion in the activity base of the cell in the forthcoming academic session 2014-15.