Case BriefsForeign Courts

United Kingdom Supreme Court: Lord Sumpton, speaking for himself and Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed and Lord Hodge, decided an appeal in favour of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) directing the respondents- Cartier International AG, to pay the expenses for implementing the order of injunction passed against the ISPs.

Earlier, in 2014, the English High Court had passed an injunction restraining major ISPs including British Telecommunications Plc and others from allowing access to the websites selling counterfeit luxury products such as jewelry and watches. The High Court further ordered the ISPs to pay the cost incurred in the implementation of the website blocking order. The ISPs preferred an appeal before the Court of Appeals against the direction for payment of implementation cost, which was, however, dismissed. Aggrieved thus, the ISPs approached the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals. It referred to Norwich Pharmacal Co. v. Customs and Excise Coms, [1974] AC 133, and observed that the English Courts have long had jurisdiction in certain circumstances to order innocent parties to assist those whose rights have been invaded by a wrongdoer. Further, the incidence of compliance cost as a matter in English law requires that any remedy should be fair, proportionate and not unnecessarily costly. In English law, the incidence of costs generally depends on a legal distribution of risk as founded by the Court. An innocent intermediary is ordinarily entitled to be indemnified by the rights holder against the cost of complying with the website blocking order. The Supreme Court held, “an ISP serving as a mere conduit would not incur liability for trademark infringement under English law even in the absence of safe harbor provisions. There is no legal basis for requiring a party to shoulder the burden of remedying an injustice if he had no legal responsibility and is acting under the compulsion of an order of the Court”. The Court rejected the suggestion that since ISPs benefit financially from the volume and appeal of content available on the internet, including content that violates intellectual property rights, it is fair to make them contribute to the cost of enforcement. Such suggestion, the Court held, assumes a degree of responsibility on the part of the intermediary which does not correspond to any legal standard. Website blocking injunctions were sought by the rights holder in their own commercial interests. There was no reason why the rights holder should be entitled to look for contributions to the cost of defending his rights from anyone other than the infringers. Finally, it was held that the rights holder should indemnify the ISPs for the compliance cost in blocking the websites as ordered. [Cartier International AG v. British Telecommunications Plc,[2018] 1 WLR 3259, dated 13-06-2018]

Business NewsNews

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical knowledge sharing for establishing a nationwide Time Stamping & Time Synchronization network and traceability of time signal to UTC NPL time, was signed between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research -National Physical Laboratory (CSIRNPL) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications. The nationwide time stamping & time synchronization network consisting of 22 numbers of Time Synchronization Centers (TSC’s) will be set up by DoT with technical assistance from CSIR-NPL. This network will provide synchronizing pulse in Indian Standard Time (IST) to all telecom & internet service providers in all the 22 LSA (Licensed Service Areas) in the country. The primary purpose of synchronizing the telecom network with IST time stamp is to enable the security agencies to overcome the difficulty in analyzing and correlating the cyber events in this era of greatly increasing network speed with advancement of telecom technology (2G to 3G to 4G to 5G etc.). The implementation of the project will also improve the telecom network efficiency by reducing packet loss due to reduced slips in better synchronized digital network. The time set on Indian telecom networks should be in IST zone to uniquely identify the user (subscriber) of network on tracing of the IP address and other parameters. Presently, Telecom Service Provider (TSP)/Internet Service Provider (ISP) are taking the reference time from different sources viz., GPS from GNSS. These sources do not have the traceability with IST. “Telecom Networks” need to be in IST time zone synchronized with CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (CSIRNPL) – the keeper of IST. The technologies developed by CSIR and its laboratories are of high value to Indian stakeholders, they be industry/government departments and ministries. After establishment & implementation of a PAN India time synchronization and time stamping across the Indian telecom network, all the network of the TSP/ISPs will be traceable with the IST, which will eliminate the problem of the time synchronization among the TSP/ISPs. This will lead to better efficiency of telecom network and reduce the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) call drop, improve the quality of service of the network, voice, video. The time standardization will help to curb cyber crimes and will also help to identify and correlate the various digital financial transactions. Accuracy of the time depends upon the distance between the TSC (reference source) and the location of the TSP/ISP centres. Therefore, stratum-1 time synchronization centre shall be established at all the 22 LSAs across the country.

Ministry of Science and Technology