• Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Interview With Ankit Sahni - Advocate, Intellectual Property and Technology Laws


on Apr 12, 2022
Ankit Sahni

Ankit Sahni is a Partner in Ajay Sahni & Associates’ top-ranking, widely lauded intellectual property and innovation law practice. He represents clients in a diverse array of enforcement, contentious and transactional IP and technology law matters covering a variety of industries. He manages large and small IP portfolios throughout the clearance and approval process and advises clients pursuing a worldwide IP strategy. 
He is retained by some of the world’s largest Fortune 500  companies as counsel, to enforce and defend their IP rights before  the Indian IP Office, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, and  various courts and tribunals across India. 
His practice is widely recognized by the industry and media, for  which he has been awarded the International Client Choice Award  for Trademarks, recognized by the World Trademark Review 1000, and featured as one of Super 50 Lawyers in India by Thomson  Reuters ALB. He also featured in the Forbes Legal Powerlist 2020  as one among top 100 lawyers in India. 
He is the only Indian lawyer to be appointed as an Expert Member  to the European Observatory on Infringement of Intellectual  Property Rights, a regulatory body that functions as a policy think  tank for the European Commission.

Frontlist: How do Copyright laws work when it comes to the national as well as the international level?

Ankit: In India, copyright law is codified under the Copyright Act, 1957. Right holders are entitled to enforce their rights in India in accordance with and subject to the exceptions and conditions contained under the Copyright Act. In addition to the Act, right holders also enjoy privileges and benefits under common law. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, commonly known as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement governing copyright, first accepted at Berne, Switzerland, in 1886. 179 countries are parties to the Convention. The Berne Convention requires its parties to render (at least) the same level of protection to the works of authors of other parties to the Convention as it renders to works of its own nationals. In addition to establishing a system of non-discriminatory treatment among the parties, the Convention also requires member states to provide strict minimum standards for copyright law. A right holder who owns the copyright in particular work in India can enforce his rights in the said work in another country that is a signatory to the Convention. Such a country is required to ensure that the said person receives the same protection, benefits, and privileges under copyright law as it would grant to works belonging to its own nationals. 

Frontlist: Are there Special Courts for copyright in India?

Ankit: IP infringement actions are contested within the framework of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. In each state, at the district level, there are specialized benches that have been notified as 'Commercial Courts'. At the High Court level, there are 'Commercial Divisions' that deal with intellectual property (including copyright) disputes. Appeals against orders of the Registrar of Copyrights and rectification petitions are also filed before the High Court. Recently, the Delhi High Court became the first High Court in India to set up a dedicated 'Intellectual Property Division' which exclusively hears matters pertaining to intellectual property. This initiative has been widely lauded as one of the most progressive steps for intellectual property enforcement in recent times.

Frontlist: Is there any ‘Board of Advisers’ on copyright matters?

Ankit: There is no provision of any 'Board of Advisers' on copyright matters under the current legislative framework.

Frontlist: What are the moral rights of the author of any work?

Ankit: Moral rights of an author include the right of attribution, which means the author has the right to be identified as the creator of a work. It also includes the right to publish work anonymously (without attribution) or pseudonymously (under a pseudonym). It further covers the right of an author to preserve the integrity of his work and to prevent distortion, mutilation, or unauthorized alteration of his work. The said rights are mentioned under Section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act and Article 6bis of the Berne Convention.  

Frontlist: Can you enlighten us about the remedies available to a right holder against Infringement of Copyright?

Ankit: A right holder is entitled to file a suit for infringement, seeking injunction, damages, delivery or destruction of infringing material and other reliefs. A right holder can also file a complaint regarding infringement with the police or the magistrate. The police, under section 64 of the Copyright Act, has the power to seize infringing copies.

Frontlist: What are the rights with regards to a piece of writing- Literary work?

Ankit: Copyright vests in original literary works. Section 14 defines 'copyright' as the exclusive right to do or authorise the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work: to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means; to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation; to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public; to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work; to make any translation of the work; and to make any adaptation of the work.

Frontlist: Is it a criminal offense to break the Copyright Law?

Ankit: Infringement of copyright is an offence. Section 63 of the Copyright Act provides for imprisonment upto 2 years, and fine upto Rs. 200,000. Section 63A provides for enhanced penalties on second and subsequent convictions.

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