Is the Nifty 50 a work of art – like Star Wars?
Over the coming weeks, the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd. will assert an intellectual property right over its popular equity benchmark. It’s seeking an injunction against Singapore Exchange Ltd., which wants to start its own derivative based on publicly available settlement prices of Nifty futures contracts.
Such lawsuits are nothing new in the world of index providers and exchanges.
In 2006, the New York Mercantile Exchange failed to persuade both a U.S. District Court and the Second Circuit Court that Intercontinental Exchange Inc. was violating the copyright of Nymex settlement prices by using them in its over-the-counter derivative contracts. The judges ruled that settlement price wasn’t one expression of an idea where others were possible. Rather, it was the only way to express Nymex crude’s closing price. Giving Nymex a copyright would amount to giving it intellectual ownership of… prices. And that would be ridiculous.