A world economy left in ruins by the Coronavirus pandemic has forced policy makers to take one (or a hundred) steps back to reassess their approach to building a sustainable future – starting with creating a more resilient economy and infrastructure. The national commercial law space has notably undergone a striking upheaval with the focus now placed on surviving rather than profiting. With companies focused on advancing technologies to tide over this crisis, intellectual property rights have been pushed to the forefront, and international players have optimistically come together more than ever before.
In keeping with this spirit, we hope that through this blog we can encourage discourse on these three crucial areas of law: Commercial Law, Intellectual Property Rights and International Law, as we adapt, together, to the dynamics of a fast evolving world.
India and South Africa have submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to suspend the intellectual property rights for Covid-19 medicines and vaccines. It has been pointed out that medicines once patented, they get really difficult to procure. The countries have expressed their concerns over shortage of such products due to the intellectual property rights which will act as a hindrance to stop the ongoing pandemic.
On 2nd October, 2020 WTO posted the joint submission made by the two countries for the waiver of some of the provisions of the TRIPS agreement on intellectual property protection. This was done to ensure the treatment, prevention and containment of the novel virus. The move has been welcomed by the health activists who strongly believe that the patents hinder the accessibility of medicines by people all over the world. They believe that patents are major block for providing inexpensive medicines.
The world’s richest man drags Asia’s richest individual to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) over the latter’s deal with the Future group. Amazon has claimed that the Future Group has violated their contractual clause by selling off its assets worth Rs 24,713 crore to the Reliance Industries.
Last year, Amazon had entered into a contract with the Future Group wherein it purchased 49% stake in one of the Future’s unlisted firm, Future Coupons Ltd. Amazon has claimed that the contract clearly stated that the Future Group cannot sell any asset within 10 years of the deal with Amazon without their consent and that Amazon had the right of first refusal. The contract also restricted the Future Group to sell any of their shares to Reliance or any other competitor.
In August, the Future Group had reached an agreement with Reliance wherein they sold off its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance. The deal is still waiting for regulatory approvals. It was reported that Amazon had sent a legal notice to the Biyani-led group before going into arbitration. The Future Group hopes to settle the dispute amicably. The arbitration proceedings may start from November.
Brussels has taken a legal action against UK over its plans to violate the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement from last year. This could lead the UK to the European Court of Justice.
Brussels had sent a letter of formal notice to the UK over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “internal market bill”. The Bill could allow the UK government to override the crucial points that were agreed upon between the Prime Minister and the EU on Northern Ireland especially over sensitive points on state aid an export documentation.
The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stated that the bill was a “full contradiction” of the previous UK commitments over the avoidance of a hard border on the island of Ireland. The bill, apparently, by its very nature is a breach of the “obligation of good faith” contained in the withdrawal agreement that led to UK exiting the EU. President Ursula also mentioned that UK had a month to review its bill before the Brussels legal step. However, the deadline was ignored.
According to a Reuters report, a new antitrust case has been filed against Alphabet Inc.’s Google in the Competition Commission of India (CCI). It has been alleged that Google has abused its dominant position in the Smart TVs market by blocking those companies who want to create or modify the android system, such as the Amazon Fire TV’s operating system. Since June, the CCI has been looking into such antitrust allegations against Google of creating barriers for firms wanting to use or develop modified versions of Android for Smart TVs. CCI has apparently directed the company to submit its written responses on the allegations. The antitrust watchdog could either order an investigation against Google or do not admit the case at all depending upon the merits of the case.
This is the fourth major antitrust case against Google in India wherein various local startups have criticized the company for its certain policies and company charges that hurt their growth in the market. Google is also facing antitrust challenges in the United States, and another antitrust probe in China is set to look into the allegations of how the company abuses its dominant position in Android operating system by stifling competition.
The Companies (Amendment) Bill of 2020 has received President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent after getting passed in both the Houses of Parliament. The Bill provides for a slew of amendments to the Companies Act, 2013.
The Bill seeks to remove the existing provisions on producer companies and adds a new chapter in the Act with similar provisions on producer companies. The Bill also provides for decriminalization of certain offences which were present in the Act. Penalties have also been reduced. The Bill also empowers the central government to allow certain classes of public companies to list classes of securities in foreign jurisdiction. The Bill has also relaxed CSR compliance requirements by the Companies and establishment of Benched of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. The Bill empowers the Central Government to exclude companies issuing specified classes of securities from the definition of a “listed company” in consultation with the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The Bill has now become an Act.