The 17th Raj Anand Moot Court Competition
The Problem - 2000

The island of Pollen was known not just for the exotic flowers that grew in abundance but also the almost divine climate that nurtured many a budding (no pun intended) relationship.

Mr. Anther, a national of the island and a scientist of the highest repute invents a molecular manipulative technology by which designer plants can be created.

The technology has enormous potential and he immediately applies for a patent, both in Pollen as well as other countries through the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) route.

The breakthrough gets tremendous international publicity. Anther sets up a company known as Design-a-Flower Limited (?DAF?).

The technology which he refers to as ?design-a-flower? enables a customer to order a desired design on any flower, for example, a striped, spotted and checked rose or even cartoon characters on tulips etc.

Needless to say, the whole concept of flower arrangement took on a new meaning altogether, with the latest winning entry in an international contest being titled ?Space Age Flowers?.

Soon enough the natural flowers that were once cherished were now ignored. Designer flowers became the latest fashion statement.

Stigma, a national of ?Mimosa? discovers that under the laws of the said country, it takes four years for a patent application to be published and six years on an average for a patent to be granted. The laws of Mimosa do not enable the filing of an infringement action before the patent is granted; however damages can be claimed retrospectively from the date of publishing of the contents of the specifications in the official gazette for opposition purposes.

Therefore, Stigma discovers that though Anther's patent has been applied in Mimosa, it is safe to copy the technology for a period of say three and a half years before it is published.

Using a series of designer plants, Stigma reverse engineers and announces a rival venture called Floralmania Ltd (?FLO?), with a wider range of products including those that appealed to prurient minds.

Within a few months, the rival company?s business in the country Mimosa picks up enormously (for very obvious reasons).

?DAF? sues ?FLO? and claims:

  1. that although the patent has not been granted, the technology is such that a patent is inevitable;
  2. that if ?FLO? is allowed to clearly copy the technology and shut shops, the patent when granted, would be redundant. Not only would the loss be colossal, the commercial worth and the value of the technology would itself get destroyed, particularly if put to a wrongful use.
  3. That it is against the principles of unfair competition for a competitor to usurp the commercial benefit of another?s invention.

?FLO? defends the action by alleging:

  1. without a patent, there is no remedy and the action fails;
  2. the patent may or may not be granted on ethical and social considerations;
  3. the patent is really one for biological substances and not for genetic or molecular manipulative technology and under the existing laws of the country, patents cannot be granted on live forms or biological materials, although they can be granted for micro or molecular technologies.