Understanding Imbrication in Intellectual Property Rights
Imbrication issues in Intellectual Property Rights occur when holders assert their rights across multiple concepts. Software, for instance, is protected under brand laws, patent laws, and sometimes design patents, creating overlaps and complexities. Courts typically follow two approaches when confronted with such overlaps: allowing parties to benefit from multiple rights or restricting protection to one doctrine. However, this presents challenges due to the differing scopes and limitations of each right.
Imbrication between Designs and Copyright
Section 15 of the Copyright Act addresses the conflict between design and brand protection. If a design is registered under the Designs Act, it takes precedence over brand protection under the Copyright Act. However, in cases where a design isn’t registered, reproduction by an artificial process more than 50 times can nullify the brand associated with the design.
A notable ruling by the Delhi High Court (Microfibers Inc vs Girdhar & Co & Anr) emphasized prioritizing the original work over industrially produced designs, highlighting the limitations of applying brand protection to a design under the Copyright Act. This interpretation, though serving the intent, poses issues of defective application and potential erosion of rights.
Imbrication between Design and Trademark
Shapes can serve as both trademarks and designs, leading to disputes over protection from violations. The ‘test for design violation’ established in Whirlpool India vs Videocon Diligence Pvt Ltd emphasizes visual judgment for determining design infringement. However, the question of whether a shape registered as a design loses protection when used as a trademark remains contentious within legal precedents.
Imbrication between Trademark and Copyright
Trademark and brand laws, serving distinct purposes, often overlap. Instances arise where entities attempt to leverage both trademark and brand laws for reciprocal benefits, exploiting various aspects of a creation. For example, a painter may seek brand protection for their artwork while also using it as a trademark for trade purposes without compromising its brand status.
Conclusion: Navigating Imbrication in Intellectual Property Rights
As technological advancements lead to increased overlaps in Intellectual Property Rights, clearer legislation is imperative. The current approaches and court views offer guidance but lack definitive solutions. It falls upon the legislature to address these issues comprehensively, providing clear and unambiguous laws to govern these complexities.