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.
Apex Court Rules in Favour of Amazon, Confirms Emergency Arbitration Award Applicable
The retail pioneer Kishore Biyani’s $-3.4-billion bid faced a blow, trying to sell the assets of Future Retail Limited (FRL) to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure Groups, as the Supreme Court recently upheld the October 25, 2020 interim award of the Emergency Arbitrator under the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) restraining FRL from going ahead with the deal. A Bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai set aside two judgments of the Delhi High Court Division Bench that had stayed the order of a Single Bench of the HC upholding the Emergency Arbitrator’s order. Amazon which had objected to the FRL-Reliance deal alleging breach of its earlier contract with FRL’s promoter firm had approached the SC against the decisions of the HC Division Bench. Among Future Retail’s brands are the supermarket chain Big Bazaar and the premium food retailer Foodhall.
Devas Multimedia to Continue Fighting for Award, States Income Tax Bill Fails to Address International Arbitration
Devas Multimedia, a company seeking over $1.2 billion it won in international arbitration from India, has welcomed India’s move to nullify retrospective tax demands on companies. However, the company emphasised that the bill does not address the issue of honouring international arbitration awards, and said it would continue the fight to enforce its legal rights. The new legislation will settle tax disputes worth billions and will withdraw all back tax demands on companies such as Cairn Energy and Vodafone. The government has also proposed to refund the amount paid in litigation by companies without any interest thereon. Devas and the Centre is embroiled in multiple court cases globally in which Devas seeks the award money while India wants to liquidate the company and investigate an alleged fraud. The issue dates back to 2005 over a failed satellite deal between Devas and ISRO-controlled Antrix Corp. Under the deal, ISRO was to lease two communication satellites for 12 years at a cost of Rs 167 crore to Devas.
Review of IP Right Regime in India (Report 161) under Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, chaired by V. Vijayasai Reddy
The report, presented before the Rajya Sabha in late July this year, put forth more than 10 recommendations to be reviewed. Some of these included labelling products undergoing filing stage as “patent pending”, a different set of frameworks in order to protect secrets of trade, creation of IP Fund, encouraging IP financing, re-assessment of IPR policy, 2016, promoting creation of IP Facilitation Centres in remote areas, etc.
Madras HC rejects ITC’s claims over their trademark ‘Magic Masala’ against Nestle
Recently, ITC had filed for a suit of passing off, seeking permanent injuction as Nestle used the term ‘Magical Masala’ for its instant noodles, which was similar to that used by their instant noodles brand Yippee. Since they never filed for a trademark and Nestle’s contenbtion of merely describing the spices for its noodles, the claim was dismissed. Nestle contested that the words were quite common to the culinary world and should not be subjected to any trade member’s proprietary right.
Insurance Amendment Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha
General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced by Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman. The bill aims at the divestment of the insurance sector to a more private-public framework. It moves for a better ecosystem for General Insurance Companies providing greater resources. However, the opposition claims it is one of the propagandas of the government towards complete privatisation of the insurance sector. N.K. Premachandran strongly opposed the bill claiming it was not in consonance with the original act. in answer to the same, Sitharaman said “We are bringing some enabling provision so that the Government can bring in public, Indian citizens, and common people’s participation in the general insurance companies”.