IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (November 7th – November 14th)

Govt comes up with accessibility standards for hearing impaired on TV channels

The government has come up with new accessibility standards, under which almost all television channels will have to ensure that they either carry captions or sign language to help the hearing impaired understand the programming. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 3rd November, 2021 floated a draft of the standards and asked for feedback from the stakeholders within a span of 21 days.

The standards shared by the ministry mention that all programming, barring “live and deferred live content/events such as sports: live news, events like live music shows, award shows, live reality shows, etc.; content like music shows, debates, scripted/ unscripted reality shows, etc.; and advertisements and teleshopping content” will have to adhere to these standards.

Channels which have less than 1 per cent average audience share for all households over a year will also be exempt from these standards.

The ministry noted that it is in process to get the “Accessibility Standards for Television Programmes for Hearing Impaired” notified under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, through the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, to make television content more inclusive for persons with hearing disabilities.

Read notice here

Commission of Minorities takes up minority portrayal in films with CBFC

The Commission for Minorities (NCM) and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will look at putting in place by December a protocol for the portrayal of minorities in movies, Commission Chairperson Iqbal Singh Lalpura said on Friday.

The Commission has acted upon the rising number of complaints over the issue and taken it up with the CBFC.

This comes after one complainant from Tamil Nadu said that there has been a poor portrayal of Christians in Rudratandav. Jathedar Sikhs have also complained about the ‘poor portrayal’ of Sikhs in movies.

Sources in the Commission said the complaints so far have been general; no specifics have been given as to how the portrayal of minority communities in Indian movies has been inappropriate.

Officials in commission have indicated that these complaints need to be looked at and investigated. The country is divided into nine regions under the CBFC and there is a five-member movie screening committee in each region, headed by a regional officer. Officials from commission mentioned that it mandatory that there must be at least one woman on each committee but there is no such mandate for a member of the minority community to be on these committees.

The Commission is looking at the possibility of mandating the nomination of a minority member in these screening committees in each region.

PIL filed in Delhi High Court alleging that Dulquer Salman starrer ‘Kurup’ violates right to privacy of proclaimed offender Sukumara Kuru

A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court against the film “Kurup“, which is said to be based on the life of a proclaimed offender, and “India’s longest wanted fugitive”, Sukumara Kurup [Sebin Thomas v Union of India & Ors.].

A Division Bench that comprises Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly admitted the plea on November 10 and issued notice to the respondents- the producers, the central and Kerala state government, and National Central Bureaus (NCBs) Interpol in the matter.

According to advocate Sebin Thomas, who filed the PIL on November 8, the State being the custodian of the properties of Kurup is duty-bound to protect his right to privacy. This is in light of the fact that since he is a proclaimed offender, all his movable and immovable properties are vested with the State.

Thomas added that the publication of the film portrayed Kurup’s personal life with ingredients of fiction that could be detrimental to the fugitive, or may even deny him justice before a court of law. The plea also discussed pre-trial incarceration needs justification depending upon the nature of offences, criminal history, terms of the sentence prescribed in the statute for such crime, probability of the accused fleeing from justice, hampering the investigation, and manipulating the victims and witnesses.

Delhi Court Disposes Bennett Coleman’s Trademark Infringement Suit After Settlement With Nominal Damages Of Re. 1

A Delhi Court has disposed of a suit filed by Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd against entities involved in providing gifts and other accessories on their web portals alleging trademark infringement and use of its mastheads in view of a settlement with the defendants with nominal damages of Re. 1. The plaintiff sought a decree of permanent injunction restraining the defendants from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, directly or indirectly using and infringing the trademarks namely “The Times Of India”, “The Economic Times”, etc. belonging to the plaintiff company and other deceptively identical or similar trademarks on the goods and services being provided by them to their customers on the web portals or otherwise.

The court noted that the terms of respective applications and Settlement Agreements appeared to be within the four corners of law and hence the said settlement agreement was accepted.

Read order here.

Centre proposes model policy to encourage film shoots and promote tourism

To boost domestic tourism, the central government has proposed a model policy to encourage cinema makers to film in India. The government will frame a film facilitation policy and also encourage states to set up film promotion offices to facilitate timely permissions for shoots. This is a part of a joint initiative by Information & Broadcasting and Tourism ministries.

While the cost of shooting a film is lower in India than overseas, producers opt for foreign locales because of friendly policies and easier permissions.

Fourteen states have their own film facilitation policy while 18 states give incentives to film makers. The draft model policy will be circulated with other states so that they too can adopt it. While incentives are important, ease of shooting and ease of clearances are more essential, he said.

There is an increasing need for the state governments to consider establishing a film promotion office at the highest level which can coordinate with the various departments and institutions and get permissions processed in time. The film promotion office should also have the authority to intervene and sort out issues at the local level when required.

The two ministries have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop synergies between film makers and tourism sector and enable partnerships between Indian and global filmmakers.

Delhi High Court Invites Suggestions For Fixing Royalties For Sound Recording & underlying works

The High Court of Delhi has issued a public notice on 10th November, 2021, with respect to the intention of the IP Division to fix/revise radio royalties as mandated under Section 31D of the Copyright Act, 1957. Two public notices have been issued, one for communication of sound recording to the public through radio broadcast and another for communication of underlying works in sound recordings.

The notice invites suggestions from interested persons, in writing along with necessary evidence, to be submitted within 30 days (by 10th December, 2021).

Read notice here and here

The World’s Largest Record Company Is Creating an NFT Super Group

The world’s largest music company has created a band of four virtual apes. Universal Music Group NV is combining two digital concepts: nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse.

Universal Music, the home to top-selling musicians like Drake and Taylor Swift, is working with collector Jimmy McNelis to convert four of his NFTs into a band called Kingship. Kingship consists of four digital characters — three bored apes and one mutant ape — all part of an NFT collection known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club.  The club is one of the most successful NFT stories of the past year; it gave anyone who bought one of the apes full commercial rights to use the image.

Netflix, director Mira Nair gets notice from Shia Personal Law Board over A Suitable Boy

The All-India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has sent a legal notice to filmmaker Mira Nair, Netflix and producers of web series ‘A Suitable Boy‘ over their portrayal of a ‘tazia‘ (replica of Imam Husain’s mausoleum) in one of the episodes.

The notice claims that the makers of the series intentionally hurt millions of people’s religious sentiments. Through their notice the Board has demanded that the producers should remove the scene from the web series and issue a public apology.

The notice comes in the vague of increasing concern for freedom of expression exercised by artists, as recently numerous notices and cases have been filed against stand-up comedians, producers and film makers for hurting religious sentiments. The grey area needs to be interpreted in light of theory of proportionality to balance out to the freedoms and reasonable restrictions enshrined in our constitution.

The series by Netflix is directed by Mira Nair and inspired by Vikram Seth’s eponymous novel.

[Breezer v. Freez Mix] Delhi High Court provides interim relief to Bacardi in trademark suit

The Delhi High Court through an order dated 12th November, 2021, granted interim relief to alcohol manufacturer Bacardi (plaintiff) in a trademark dispute relating to its alcoholic beverage Breezer, by restraining makers of a non- alcoholic beverage ‘FREEZ Mix’ from using the trademark ‘FREEZ’ or any other mark, label, sign, device or name identical to ‘BREEZER’ (Bacardi and Company Ltd. vs Bahety Overseas Private Ltd. & Ors.).

Single-judge Justice C Hari Shankar ordered Bahety Overseas Private Ltd., the manufacturer of ‘FREEZ Mix’ to restrain from using name, device or label similar to Breezer, during the pendency of the suit filed by Bacardi.

The Court said that the mark ‘FREEZ Mix’ and the shape of the bottle in which it was sold were deceptively similar to that of Breezer. The names were also phonetically similar, the Court observed.

“The plaintiff, therefore, has, in my view, made out a prima facie case for grant of interlocutory injunction on the basis of infringement of its registered trademarks,” the Court held.

Breezer is a rum-based beverage mixed with various fruit essence which is manufactured by Bacardi. Bacardi also held trademark registrations for the word mark ‘BREEZER’ in Classes 32 and 33. The shape of the bottle in which Breezer was sold had also been granted registration as a trademark.

The defendants, a manufacturer of non-alcoholic beverage was selling its product under the mark ‘FREEZ Mix’. Bacardi moved the High Court by way of the present suit against the same.

With the pleadings in the suit yet to be complete, Bacardi sought interim relief against Bahety.

Read order here.

US-based Meta Company to sue Facebook for infringing upon its name

In an interesting turn of events, a Chicago-based tech firm called Meta Company is going to court against Facebook, saying the social network stole its name and “livelihood” after it rebranded its name to Meta.

In a statement, Meta Company Founder Nate Skulic said that when Facebook failed to buy them, it aimed to “bury” the company by force of media.

Skulic has alleged that upon a failed attempt by Facebook to buy the Meta company, Facebook now are infringing the company’s intellectual property rights. A live trademark was filed for Meta Company in 2016 that lists the registrant owner at Chicago, Illinois.

Skulic elaborated that It’s unfortunate to have been associated with a company so rooted in controversy and fixated on domination and therefore his Company aims to be distinguished from Facebook’s totalitarian view of the future.

YRF to launch its OTT platform ‘YRF Entertainment’ earmarks Rs 500 crore investment

Film studio Yash Raj Films (YRF) is planning to venture into the digital space with its own OTT venture called YRF Entertainment. According to media reports, the firm has earmarked Rs 500 crore investment for the OTT venture, which will be helmed by Aditya Chopra. Besides producing original content, the studio might also look at launching its own OTT platform.