The efficiency of the Indian judiciary has been the subject of many a discussion at both professional and personal gatherings that I’ve attended. The media has covered the overwhelming case backlog and seemingly infinite expanse of time that it would take to clear them. Most often the general public believes that taking something to Court, would end up in a judgement approximately two decades later, orders that rarely benefit either side, a staid interpretation of the law and that the only persons who benefit out of the entire proceedings would be the lawyers. While this may be the rule, I’ve found that recent cases involving intellectual property, seem to be a refreshing exception to the rule, some of which I’ve listed out below:

Time – Micromax and One Plus

The major grouse (justified one I might add) that most people have with the Court System in India is the pace at which things progress. There are very many real (and unfortunate) examples of cases taking decades that the initial parties had both passed away leaving the heirs a legacy in the form of a suit. On the IP front though there have been a lot of cases, where the Courts have swung into action at-least to sort things out at an interim stage to grant relief in a rather short period of time. The Micromax, Oneplus dispute, (which we blogged about here and here) where Micromax who approached the Court a few days short of the launch of the One Plus was granted an injunction in a matter of days. The judgement overturning the injunction was equally swift as well.

Effective Orders – ISPs for hosting infringing content

While the Indian Courts have passed orders that have been well reasoned, usually the time taken to pass them defeat the purpose and more importantly implementation of the verdict has been an issue. The Fifa Case against Internet Service Providers for the removal of  over 200 links that were streaming the matches live illegally, was one case where the Court passed orders which were clear, well reasoned and effective and most importantly, enforced. The Court’s have also passed orders prior to the launch of movies granting Ashok Kumar orders (Indian equivalent of John Doe) to remove infringing content from any site (un-named at the time of filing the suit) that allow online streaming and downloads of copyright protected content. This saves a considerable amount of time by removing the need for the right holder to approach the Court against each website that hosts the content.

Spirit of the Law – NDAs, Secrets and Client Databases

While interpreting the law and solving legal problems is a difficult task in itself, dealing with disputes on trade secrets which has no statute governing it in India makes things a bit more complex. The Courts have done a fabulous job in sorting out those disputes involving such matters with relative ease. They’ve either brought such disputes within the realms of the statute, as with the Vogueserve case – the plaintiff’s client database as a work entitled to copyright protection) or dealt with them on the merits and fulfilling the intention of the law like the Fairfest Media case (protecting trade secrets through equity and fair play).

I’m sure there are far more cases in the last year or so which have proven to buck the existing notion of the legal system in India. One of the main concerns for foreign investors and indian businesses alike, particularly with the government pushing to “Make in India” is the protection and enforcement of IP rights. While the cases listed above are just a few which I think fit the bill, there are a lot of other similar cases where the Courts have sorted out complex legal issues in a clear and well reasoned manner, in a relatively short period of time, and that is an extremely good sign!

This article has been authored by Navarre Roy, an IP Law practitioner.