India vs Synamedia Limited, February 2022, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – BANGALORE, Case No ITA No. 3350/Bang/2018

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Synamedia Ltd. provides open end-to-end digital technology services to digital pay television platform operators. The company has expertise in the area of providing conditional access system, interactive systems and other software solutions as well as integration and support services for digital pay TV networks. For FY 2014-15 the company filed a tax return with nil income.

The case was selected for a transfer pricing audit. The tax authorities in India accepted the arm’s length pricing determined by Synamedia, but some of the intra-group licence payments for software were considered subject to withholding taxes in India. Hence an assessment was issued.

An appeal was filed by the company.

Judgement of the Tax Appellate Tribunal

The Tribunal decided in favor of Synamedia Ltd. and set aside the assessment.

After analyzing the terms of the agreement the Tribunal concluded that the terms of agreement in the present case are similar to those considered by the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence.

“The terms of the licence in the present case does not grant any proprietory interest on the licencee and there is no parting of any copy right in favour of the licencee. It is non-exclusive non-tranferrable licence merely enabling the use of the copy righted product and does not create any interest in copy right and therefore the payment for such licence would not be in the nature of royalty as defined in DTAA. We therefore hold that the sum in question cannot be brought to tax as royalty.”

“Technical and commercial proposal given by the Assessee along with the STB provides technical specifications for the engineering of the relevant systems. That by itself cannot be the basis to conclude that there has been use of any copyright or that technical services have been provided. This is like providing a technical and user manual describing the system and does not imply granting of any copyright rights or transferring technical knowledge. The software is only licensed for use without granting any license.”

1645098057-TP-3350-NDS Limited-GGK-PS

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