Copyright in a title of short story

Infringement of copyright

Can a person claim copyright in respect of title of  Story?

The Court declined injunction against the defendant for using the brand name and title “Nishabd” alleging similar to the film of the plaintiff therein. The learned Judge A.K. Sikri, J. referred to decisions of the American Courts and observed that the position is the same as under the copyright law in India:-

“12……… What, therefore, follows is that if a junior user uses the senior user’s literary title as the title of a work that by itself does not infringe the copyright of a senior user’s work since there is no copyright infringement merely from the identity or similarity of the titles alone.”

Continue reading “Copyright in a title of short story”

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Copyright in the charactor of Sherlock

 Character of Sherlock is in public domain.

Facts of Klinger v. Conan Doyale Estate:

Arthur Conan Doyle published his first Sherlock Holmes story in 1887 and his last in 1927. There were 56 stories in all, plus 4 novels. The final 10 stories were published between 1923 and 1927. As a result of statutory extensions of copyright protection culminating in the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, the American copyrights on those final stories (copyrights owned by Doyle’s estate, the appellant) will not expire until 95 years after the date of original publication—between 2018 to 2022, depending on the original publication date of each story. The copyrights on the other 46 stories and the 4 novels, all being works published before 1923, have expired.

Once the copyright on a work expires, the work becomes a part of the public domain and can be copied and sold without need to obtain a license from the holder of the expired copyright.  Leslie Klinger, co-edited an anthology called A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (2011)—“canon” referring to the 60 stories and novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Klinger’s anthology consisted of stories written by modern authors but inspired by, and in most instances depicting, the genius detective Sherlock Holmes and his awed sidekick Dr. Watson.

While Klinger did not think that it required a licence from the estate of Sir Arthur Connon Doyle, (Doyale Estate) his publishers, Random House bowed to the demand of estate and paid Rs. 5000/- and obtained a licence before publishing the Klinger’s work.

Klinger and his co-editor decided to create a sequel to A Study in Sherlock, to be called In the Company of Sherlock Holmes. They entered into negotiations with Pegasus Books for the publication of the book and W.W. Norton & Company for distribution of it to booksellers. Doyale Estate again insisted that they must obtain a licence to publish the work, which was resisted by Klinger. Doyal Estate had clearly stated it’s intention to protest with the retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to ensure that the publication is not put up for sale by them. Klinger responded to this latent threat by way of a suit for declaration that there was no copyright in favour of Doyale Estate. District Judge granted the motion.

Issue before the Circuit Court of Appeal:

whether copyright protection of a fictional character can be extended beyond the expiration of the copyright on it because the author altered the character in a subsequent work. In such a case, the Doyle estate contends, the
original character cannot lawfully be copied without a license from the writer until the copyright on the later work, in which that character appears in a different form, expires.

Creativity and copyright:

Most copyrighted works include some, and often a great deal of, public domain material—words, phrases, data, entire sentences, quoted material, and so forth. The smaller the public domain, the more work is involved in the creation of a new work. The defendant’s proposed rule would also encourage authors to continue to write stories involving old characters in an effort to prolong copyright protection, rather than encouraging them to create stories with entirely new characters. The effect would be to discourage creativity.

Copyright in characters:

From the outset of the series of Arthur Conan Doyle stories and novels that began in 1887 Holmes and Watson were distinctive characters and therefore copyrightable. They were “in-complete” only in the sense that Doyle might want to (and later did) add additional features to their portrayals. The resulting somewhat altered characters were derivative works, the additional features of which that were added in the ten late stories being protected by the copyrights on those stories. The alterations do not revive the expired copyrights on the original characters.

Perpetual copyright in characters:

There is no copyright infringement of a story or character that is not under copyright. Anyway it appears that the Doyle estate is concerned not with specific alterations in the depiction of Holmes or Watson in Holmes-Watson stories written by authors other than Arthur Conan Doyle, but with any such story that is published without payment to the estate of a licensing fee.
With the net effect on creativity of extending the copyright protection of literary characters to the extraordinarylengths urged by the estate so uncertain, and no grounds suggested for extending copyright protection beyond the limits fixed by Congress, the estate’s appeal borders on the quixotic. The spectre of perpetual, or at least nearly perpetual, copyright (perpetual copyright would violate the copyright clause of the Constitution, Art. I, § 8, cl. 8, which authorizes copyright protection only for “limited Times”) looms, once one realizes that the Doyle estate is seeking 135 years (1887–2022) of copyright protection for the character of Sherlock Holmes as depicted in the first Sherlock Holmes story.

[Source: Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate (7th Cir.)]

Honour and reputation of author and copyright.

Rights of an author beyond copyright:

Should right to assert authorship in a work, include a right to object to distortion, mutilation or modification in a work? 

Why not, if it is prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author. The contours, the hue and the colours of the original work, if tinkered, may distort the ethos of the work. Distorted and displayed, the viewer may form a poor impression of the author.

A good name is worth more than good riches.
(Shakespeare’s Othello, Act-II, Scene III):
Good name in man and woman, dear my Lord
Is the immediate jewel of their souls;
Who steals my purse, steals trash;
Its something nothing;
T’was mine, t’is, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Under Article 6 of the Berne Convention, the moral right of integrity enables the author to seek appropriate legal remedies if the moral right of attribution and integrity in his work is violated. The moral rights set out in the Berne Convention are significant because they continue to be vested in the author even after he has parted with his economic rights in his work.

Authorship is a matter of fact. It is history. Knowledge about authorship not only identifies the creator, it also identifies his contribution to national culture. It also makes possible to understand the course of cultural development in a country. Linked to each other, one flowing out from the other, right of integrity ultimately contributes to the overall integrity of the cultural domain of a nation. Language of Section 57 of Copyright Act does not exclude the right of integrity in relation to cultural heritage. The cultural heritage would include the artist whose creativity and ingenuity is amongst the valuable cultural resources of a nation. Through the telescope of section 57 of Copyright Act, it is possible to legally protect the cultural heritage of India through the moral rights of the artist.

[Source: Amar Nath Sehgal vs Union Of India, 117 (2005) DLT 717, 2005 (30) PTC 253. (Delhi High Court)]

 

Reputation is independent of work:

The principle underlying section 57 (of Copyright Act, 1957) is that damage to the reputation of an author is something apart from infringement of work itself. Section 57 provides an exception to the rule that after an author has parted with his rights in favour of a publisher or other person, the latter alone is entitled to sue in respect of infringements. The publisher or other assignee of copyright can no doubt bring action but thus section provides that the author can approach the court for protecting the plaintiff from serious injury even in cases where there is assignment of copyright. Thus in the case of hand after perusal of the  documents produced and the testimony of the witnesses, this court is of the considered view that the plaintiff is the author of the impugned work and that the defendants have modified the said work of the plaintiff without permission.

[Source: Arun Chadha v Oca Productions Private Limited. (Delhi High Court)]

Patent claim of Novratis in Supreme Court of India

Patent: definition of new product:

Questions before the Court:

  1. What is the true import of section 3(d) of the Patents Act, 1970? 
  2. How does it interplay with clauses (j) and (ja) of section 2(1)? 
  3. Does the product for which the appellant claims patent qualify as a new productwhich comes by through an invention that has a feature that involves technical advance over the existing knowledge and that makes the invention “not obvious” to a person skilled in the art?
  4. In case the appellant’s product satisfies the tests and thus qualifies as invention within the meaning of clauses (j) and (ja) of section 2(1), can its patentability still be questioned and denied on the ground that section 3(d) puts it out of the category of “invention”?

Section 3(d) of Patent Act, 1970:

(d) the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs, metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes, combinations and other derivatives of known substance shall be considered to be the same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy;

Patent claim over imatnib3:

Facts of the case:
The appellant claims that beginning with Imatinib3 in free base form (as the educt), in a two-stage invention they first produced its methanesulfonic acid addition salt, Imatinib Mesylate, and then proceeded to develop the beta crystalline form of the salt of Imatinib. According to the appellant, starting from Imatinib free base they could reach to the beta crystal form of Imatinib Mesylate in two ways: one by digesting another crystal form, especially the alpha crystal form, or an amorphous starting material of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of compound of formula I …”; and second by dissolving another crystal form, especially the alpha crystal form, or an amorphous starting material of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of compound of formula I…”.
The appellant filed the application (Application No.1602/MAS/1998)1 for grant of patent for Imatinib Mesylate in beta crystalline form at the Chennai Patent Office on July 17, 1998. In the application it claimed that the invented product, the beta crystal form of Imatinib Mesylate, has (i) more beneficial flow properties: (ii) better thermodynamic stability; and (iii) lower hygroscopicity than the alpha crystal form of Imatinib Mesylate. It further claimed that the aforesaid properties makes the invented product new(and superior!) as it stores better and is easier to process; has better processability of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of a compound of formula I, and has a further advantage for processing and storing.

It is significant to note that the comparison of the aforesaid properties of the beta crystal form of Imatinib Mesylate was made with its alpha crystal form. In the patent application, there is no claim of superiority of the beta crystal form of Imatinib Mesylate in regard to the aforesaid three properties, or any other property, over the starting material Imatinib, or even over Imatinib Mesylate in amorphous form or any form other than the alpha crystal form. On the contrary, insofar as Imatinib in free base form is concerned, it was unambiguously stated in the patent application as under:
It goes without saying that all the indicated inhibitory and pharmacological effects are also found with the free base, 4-(4-methylpiperazin-1-ylmethyl)-N-[4-methyl-3-(4-pyridin-3-yl) pyrimidin-2-ylamino)phenyl] benzamide, or other cells thereof. The present invention relates especially to the crystal form of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of a compound of formula I in the treatment of one of the said diseases or in the preparation of a pharmacological agent for the treatment thereto.
After the application was made and before it was taken up for consideration, a number of amendments were introduced in the Indian Patents Act, 1970, which brought about fundamental changes in the patent law of the country. The appellant was, however, fully aware of these changes in the law ……..
The Assistant Controller held that the invention claimed by the appellant was anticipated by prior publication, i.e., the Zimmermann patent; that the invention claimed by the appellant was obvious to a person skilled in the art in view of the disclosure provided in the Zimmermann patent specifications; and further that the patentability of the alleged invention was disallowed by section 3(d) of the Act; and also that July 18, 1997, the Swiss priority date, was wrongly claimed as the priority date for the application in India and hence, the alleged invention was also anticipated by the specification made in the application submitted in Switzerland.
Patent application was made on July 17, 1998, giving July 18, 1997, the date on which the appellant had applied for grant of patent for the subject product in Switzerland, as the priority date. On July 18, 1997, Switzerland was not one of the Convention Countries as defined under section 2 (1)(d) read with section 133 of the Act and it was notified as a convention country as per section 133 of the Act on November 30, 1998.
The Assistant Controller held that the invention claimed by the appellant was anticipated by prior publication, i.e., the Zimmermann patent; that the invention claimed by the appellant was obvious to a person skilled in the art in view of the disclosure provided in the Zimmermann patent specifications; and further that the patentability of the alleged invention was disallowed by section 3(d) of the Act; and also that July 18, 1997, the Swiss priority date, was wrongly claimed as the priority date for the application in India and hence, the alleged invention was also anticipated by the specification made in the application submitted in Switzerland.
The IPAB (Intellectual Property Appellate Board) reversed the findings of the Assistant Controller on the issues of anticipation and obviousness. It held that the appellant’s invention satisfied the tests of novelty and non-obviousness, and further that in view of the amended section 133, the appellant was fully entitled to get July 18, 1997, the date on which the patent application was made in Switzerland, as the priority date for his application in India. The IPAB, however, held that the patentability of the subject product was hit by section 3(d) of the Act. Referring to section 3(d) the IPAB observed:
“Since India is having a requirement of higher standard of inventive step by introducing the amended section 3(d) of the Act, what is patentable in other countries will not be patentable in India. As we see, the object of amended section 3(d) of the Act is nothing but a requirement of higher standard of inventive step in the law particularly for the drug/pharmaceutical substances.”
Against the order of the IPAB the appellant came directly to Supreme Court in a petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.

Patent be determined on intrinsic worth of invention:

The subject product admittedly emerges from the Zimmermann patent. Hence, in order to test the correctness of the claim made on behalf of the appellant, that the subject product is brought into being through inventive research, we need to examine in some detail the Zimmermann patent and certain developments that took place on that basis

We are completely unable to see how Imatinib Mesylate can be said to be a new product, having come into being through an invention that has a feature that involves technical advance over the existing knowledge and that would make the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art. Imatinib Mesylate is all there in the Zimmermann patent. It is a known substance from the Zimmermann patent.

 

That Imatinib Mesylate is fully part of the Zimmermann patent is also borne out from another circumstance. It may be noted that after the Zimmermann patent, the appellant applied for, and in several cases obtained, patent in the US not only for the beta and alpha crystalline forms of Imatinib Mesylate, but also for Imatinib in a number of different forms. The appellant, however, never asked for any patent for Imatinib Mesylate in non-crystalline form, for the simple reason that it had always maintained that Imatinib Mesylate is fully a part of the Zimmermann patent and does not call for any separate patent.

 

We thus find no force in the submission that the development of Imatinib Mesylate from Imatinib is outside the Zimmermann patent and constitutes an invention as understood in the law of patent in India.

The subject product admittedly emerges from the Zimmermann patent. Hence, in order to test the correctness of the claim made on behalf of the appellant, that the subject product is brought into being through inventive research, we need to examine in some detail the Zimmermann patent and certain developments that took place on that basis

 

We would like to say that in this country the law of patent, after the introduction of product patent for all kinds of substances in the patent regime, is in its infancy. We certainly do not wish the law of patent in this country to develop on lines where there may be a vast gap between the coverage and the disclosure under the patent; where the scope of the patent is determined not on the intrinsic worth of the invention but by the artful drafting of its claims by skilful lawyers, and where patents are traded as a commodity not for production and marketing of the patented products but to search for someone who may be sued for infringement of the patent.

In light of the discussions made above, we firmly reject the appellant’s case that Imatinib Mesylate is a new product and the outcome of an invention beyond the Zimmermann patent. We hold and find that Imatinib Mesylate is a known substance from the Zimmermann patent itself. Not only is Imatinib Mesylate known as a substance in the Zimmermann patent, but its pharmacological properties are also known in the Zimmermann patent and in the article published in the Cancer Research journal referred to above. The consequential finding, therefore, is that Imatinib Mesylate does not qualify the test of inventionas laid down in section 2(1)(j) and section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act, 1970.

On facts also we are unable to accept that Imatinib Mesylate or even Imatinib was not a known substance with known efficacy. It is seen above that Imatinib Mesylate was a known substance from the Zimmermann patent.

It further needs to be noted that, on the issue of section 3(d), there appears to be a major weakness in the case of the appellant. There is no clarity at all as to what is the substance immediately preceding the subject product, the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate. In course of the hearing, the counsel appearing for the appellant greatly stressed that, in terms of invention, the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate is two stages removed from Imatinib in free base form. The same is said in the written notes of submissions filed on behalf of the appellant. But this position is not reflected in the subject application, in which all the references are only to Imatinib in free base form (or to the alpha crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate in respect of flow properties, thermodynamic stability and lower hygroscopicity).

It is to be noted that the higher solubility of the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate is being compared not to Imatinib Mesylate but, once again, to Imatinib in free base form. The whole case of the appellant, as made out in the subject application and the affidavits, is that the subject product, the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate, is derived from Imatinib, and that the substance immediately preceding the beta crystalline form is not Imatinib Mesylate but Imatinib in free base form. This position is sought to be canvassed in the subject application and the affidavits on the premise that the Zimmermann patent ended at Imatinib in free base and did not go beyond to Imatinib Mesylate. Not only is this premise unfounded as shown earlier, but the appellant itself appears to take a somewhat different stand, as before this Court it was contended that the subject product, in terms of invention, is two stages removed from Imatinib in free base, and the substance immediately preceding the subject product is Imatinib Mesylate (non-crystalline).

One does not have to be an expert in chemistry to know that salts normally have much better solubility than compounds in free base form. If that be so, the additional properties that may be attributed to the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate would be limited to the following:

i. More beneficial flow properties,

ii. Better thermodynamic stability, and

iii. Lower hygroscopicity

It is seen above that all the pharmacological effects of Imatinib Mesylate in beta crystalline form are equally possessed by Imatinib in free base form. The position is not only admitted but repeatedly reiterated in the patent application.

Mere change of form with properties inherent to that form would not qualify as enhancement of efficacy of a known substance. In other words, the explanation is meant to indicate what is not to be considered as therapeutic efficacy.

In whatever way therapeutic efficacy may be interpreted, this much is absolutely clear: that the physico-chemical properties of beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate, namely (i) more beneficial flow properties, (ii) better thermodynamic stability, and (iii) lower hygroscopicity, may be otherwise beneficial but these properties cannot even be taken into account for the purpose of the test of section 3(d) of the Act, since these properties have nothing to do with therapeutic efficacy.

No material has been offered to indicate that the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate will produce an enhanced or superior efficacy (therapeutic) on molecular basis than what could be achieved with Imatinib free base in vivo animal model.

Thus, in whichever way section 3(d) may be viewed, whether as setting up the standards of “patentability” or as an extension of the definition of “invention”, it must be held that on the basis of the materials brought before this Court, the subject product, that is, the beta crystalline form of Imatinib Mesylate, fails the test of section 3(d), too, of the Act.

(Emphasis added)

[Source: Novratis AG v. Union of India (Supreme Court of India)]