Delhi High Court very skillfully tackles the issue of IP in customer lists- a much needed judgment in favour of employees

A huge debated issue in Indian litigation is whether former employees of an organization can use the customer list of their previous employment. The primary premise of the argument revolves around copyright law and contract.

In the most recent judgment passed by Justice Endlaw, an employer had filed a suit against his former employee on the grounds that his former employee has left the employment with a confidential client list and was using the same, thereby violating the non-compete clause in the contractual agreement.

Justice Endlaw has skillfully tackled the issue by relying on a number of Indian judgments and held that customer list cannot be copyrightable since it lacks the element of originality. Secondly, he has pointed out that a customer list is not confidential as most of the contact details are in public domain. Thirdly, the non-compete clause in the contract was void as per Section 27 of the Contract Act.

Does that bring an end to all confusion regarding the possibility of employers to restrain former employees from using customer lists after leaving employment? We can only wait till the next case comes up.

IP Offices allowing Foreign law firms to defy Supreme Court instructions

Sumit Sinha, an advocate on record has recently filed a complaint alleging that certain foreign law firm with their liaison offices in India is defying Supreme Court instructions and the Indian IP Offices are accepting vakalatnamas from these firms and communicating with them.

Foreign lawyers and firms can practice in India only if they comply with relevant laws and rules of registration under the Advocates Act, 1961. Nationals of another country can be admitted as “advocate” under the Act only if Indian nationals are allowed the same in their country. Section 49 gives the Bar Council of India the power to prescribe rules for admission of persons other than Indian citizens as advocates in India.

Relying on Lawyers Collective v. Indian Bar Council and A.K. Balaji v. The Government of India, it can be safely concluded that foreign lawyers and law firms are not allowed to be registered as advocates in India.

Thus, allowing these foreign law firms [as mentioned in the complaint], to file Vakalatnamas would practically mean allowing them to practice litigious matters in India, thereby defying the instructions of the Supreme Court. Hopefully, the allegations made in the complaint will be addressed properly and IP Offices will ensure compliance of SC rulings.

Video Conferencing for hearings in IP Offices

Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks has introduced the WebVideo Conferencing System with the help of which applicants can conduct meetings or hearings. This system will allow users to have an online video conferencing from their own offices simply with the help of a computer/laptop having camera, microphone and speakers. This will fasten the decision making and increase the productivity. The aim of this system is to strengthen the existing hearing system, reduce geographical barriers and improve communication and discussion.

Statue of Unity in India : World’s tallest statue

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has unveiled the 182 m Statue of Unity in Gujarat on 31st October, the birth anniversary of Vallabhbhai Sardar Patel. This is supposedly the world’s tallest statue, double the size of Statue of Liberty! The foundation of the statute was laid in 2013 and is built by Larsen & Toubro and Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. at a cost of Rs. 2389 crores with the help of 250 engineers and 3400 labourers. The statue has been designed by Padma Bhushan winning sculptor Ram V Sutar. It stands tall 3.2 km downstream of the Narmada Dam, overlooking the Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.

Interestingly, 553 bronze panels, each panel having 10 to 15 micro panels which the statue is made of were cast at a foundry in China as part of the international bidding since India has no such facility to make panels of that size.

Is the Statue of Unity really India made then?