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Non compliance of Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013 and Copyright Rectification

The current petitions challenge the validity of copyright registrations No. A-65448/2003 and No. A-57086/1999, granted in favor of the Respondent under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957. The Petitioner contends that these registrations were improperly obtained, violating statutory rules, particularly Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 (now Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013). This article aims to critically analyze the legal framework, arguments presented, and the court's ruling on this matter, focusing on the procedural integrity and implications of non-compliance with statutory requirements.

Legal Framework;
Section 50 of the Copyright Act, 1957 provides a mechanism to challenge the validity of a copyright registration. Under this provision, any person aggrieved by the registration of a copyright may apply to the Copyright Board for rectification of the Register of Copyrights.

Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 (now Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013) mandates that notice be issued to any party who claims or is disputing the rights to the work being registered. This rule ensures that all interested parties are given an opportunity to present their claims before the copyright registration is finalized. The principle behind this rule is to maintain transparency and fairness in the registration process.

Factual Background:
The Petitioner claims authorship of the artistic work associated with the packaging label/carton titled "TINY MINY," created by Ankur Advertising and Marketing. The Respondent, however, obtained copyright registrations for similar works under the titles CHATMOLA in 2003 and 1999. The primary issue before the court was whether the copyright registrations were sustainable given the alleged non-compliance with Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958.

Non-Compliance with Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 (now Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013):
The court's examination revealed that no notice was issued to the Petitioner at the time of scrutiny and registration of the Impugned Copyrights. Given that the Petitioner was already disputing the Respondent's claims in a pending lawsuit, the failure to notify constitutes a direct violation of Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 (now Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013). This rule is crucial for ensuring procedural integrity, and its non-compliance fundamentally undermines the legitimacy of the copyright registration process.

The court noted that the Respondent was fully aware of the ongoing dispute yet failed to notify the Petitioner. This omission not only breached the statutory requirement but also prejudiced the Petitioner's rights to contest the registration. The procedural lapse thus renders the registrations invalid.

Distinction Between Copyright and Trademark:
The Respondent argued that their trademark registration and the rejection of the Petitioner's opposition should act as res judicata, barring the current proceedings. However, the court rightly dismissed this argument, highlighting the distinct legal principles governing trademarks and copyrights. While trademark law focuses on distinguishing the source of goods or services, copyright law protects the originality of artistic or literary works. Consequently, a trademark registration does not inherently establish copyright ownership, especially when copyright claims are actively disputed.

The court's rejection of the res judicata argument underscores the importance of addressing each intellectual property right within its specific legal framework. This distinction is vital to prevent conflation of legal principles that govern different types of intellectual property.

Critical Analysis:
The court's decision is grounded in a strict interpretation of statutory requirements, emphasizing procedural fairness and the need for adherence to prescribed rules. By invalidating the copyright registrations due to non-compliance with Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 (now Rule 70(9) of the Copyright Rules, 2013), the court reinforces the principle that procedural lapses cannot be overlooked, especially when they affect the rights of disputing parties.

The distinction between copyright and trademark protections made by the court is also significant. It reaffirms that the recognition of one form of intellectual property does not automatically resolve disputes over another. This separation ensures that the legal standards applicable to each type of intellectual property are appropriately maintained.

However, this case also highlights the need for more robust mechanisms within the copyright registration process to identify and notify all potential claimants effectively. The failure to issue notice in this case points to possible deficiencies in the administrative procedures of the Copyright Office, which could be addressed through reforms aimed at enhancing transparency and stakeholder engagement.

The court's ruling in this case emphasizes the critical importance of adhering to procedural rules in copyright registration processes. The invalidation of the Impugned Copyrights due to non-compliance with Rule 16(3) serves as a reminder of the need for transparency and fairness in protecting intellectual property rights. Moreover, the decision delineates the distinct legal frameworks governing copyrights and trademarks, ensuring that the principles of each are respected.

Case Title: Anil Kumar Gera Vs Ramesh Chander
Judgement/Order Date: 02.05.2024
Case No. C.O. (COMM.IPD-CR) 750/2022
Neutral Citation:NA
Name of Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Sanjeev Narula. H.J.

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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