Govt issues new guidelines to curb misleading ads; bans surrogate ads

The government announced new guidelines to curb misleading advertisements and endorsers by banning surrogate ads, while imposing strict norms for those advertisements that seek to lure consumers offering discounts and free claims.

The new guidelines on “Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022” also seeks to regulate advertisements targeting children.

The guidelines, notified by the consumer affairs ministry and that have come into force with immediate effect, also specify due diligence to be carried out while endorsing in advertisements.

Action against violation of the new guidelines will be taken as per the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which provides for a penalty of Rs 10 lakh for first offence and Rs 50 lakh for subsequent contravention.

The guidelines will be applicable to advertisements published on all platforms like print, television and online.

For detailed analysis of these guidelines, please read our post here.

View guidelines here.

FIR registered by Delhi Police against perfume brand over ‘obscene’ ads

Delhi Police on 10th June 2022, registered a case against a perfume brand for allegedly promoting ‘rape culture’ through its advertisements. Last week, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief, Swati Maliwal filed a complaint against the advertisement.

The DCW chief also wrote to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting seeking his intervention in the matter and after the letter, the ministry directed the advertisement to be taken off air and the social media platforms.

The panel had issued a notice to the Delhi Police asking it to file an FIR against Layer Shot (The perfume Brand), alleging that the firm’s ads “promoted gang-rape culture”. The company had issued an apology earlier this week for the advertisements while stating that they were aired “only after due and mandatory approvals.”

“On the complaint of Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal, Special Cell, Delhi Police has registered an FIR under Section 67 IT Act (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) in the matter of misogynistic advertisement by ‘Layer Shot’ perfume brand which was recently played in mass media,” the DCW said.

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology proposes changes to IT rules

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) re-released a fresh draft of the amendment to the IT Rules 2021. MEITY proposed four amendments. The government in its statement mentioned that India is rapidly moving towards digitisation and users are increasing, therefore certain gaps which exist in current rules vis-a-vis big tech platforms had to be addressed.

The first amendment is the insertion of 3(1)(a) and rule 3(1)(b) in IT Rules 2021 which requires intermediaries to respect rights guaranteed to users under the Constitution of India.

Secondly govt has proposed the requirement by intermediaries to address certain complaints regarding removal of content from a platform within 72 hours. The ministry has proposed this due to the chances of something becoming viral. Intermediaries have also been asked to implement safeguards to prevent misuse of the grievance redressal mechanism.

MEITY has also proposed bringing in a new Grievance Appellate Committee which is aimed to give users an additional mechanism to appeal decisions made by grievance officers of intermediaries.

The ministry will be holding a public consultation meeting by mid-June. The draft amendment is being open for public consultation and comments can be submitted in the next 30 days.

Read draft here.

Madras HC cancels bail of Youtuber

The High Court of Madras has cancelled the bail given to YouTuber Sattai Duraimurugan for posting derogatory comments against CM M K Stalin. The Court had earlier given him bail in the case filed against him for making derogatory comments against late chief minister M Karunanidhi.

Hearing the case filed by the police to cancel the YouTuber’s bail, Justice B Pugalendhi observed that it appears from the records that Duraimurugan is in the habit of committing the offences with an intention to have more views to earn money from the social media platform.

Within a few days after submitting an undertaking affidavit before this Court, based on which he was enlarged on bail, he has indulged in further offence by making derogatory remarks against the chief minister of the state.

The court further observed that even though there are provisions under the Information Technology Act 2000 and Rules, the same was not being implemented by concerned authorities which has resulted in increase in cybercrimes.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court grants interim relief to One Moto Scooters in trademark dispute

The Delhi High Court recently passed an interim order in favour of One Moto Scooters Trading LLC to prevent it’s ex-licensees from violating it’s Intellectual Property (IP) rights in India.

The petitioner in the case had filed an application under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 on account of various disputes that arose with the respondents out of the distributorship agreement that permitted the respondents to make use of the Trademark and Copyrights pertaining to “One Moto”, “Electa”, “Commuta”, “Ryda”, “Scoota”, “Deliva” and “Byka” in respect of electric vehicles.

The grievance of the petitioner was that the respondents were encroaching upon their trademark and copyrights by assuming ownership over the same and were in the process of launching the electric vehicles under the aforesaid licensed trademarks and copyrights.

Since the cause of action partly arose in Delhi and also due to the fact that the respondents were using the website www.one-moto.in, the Court recognized that an imminent and credible threat existed as the respondents could at any point of time launch their products under the Trademark “One Moto” and other brand names.

The Court, therefore, restrained the respondents from using the mark ‘ONE MOTO’, the device mark, or any other mark which is identical or deceptively similar to the trademarks of the products ‘ONE MOTO’, ‘ELECT’, ‘COMMUTA’, ‘RYDA’, ‘SCOOTA’, ‘DELIVA’ and ‘BYKA’ which were the subject matter of the distributorship agreement, executed between the two parties in May 2021, till the next date of hearing.

Read order here.

Kerala HC stays further proceedings in sedition case against filmmaker Aisha Sulthana

The Kerala High Court on June 8 stayed further proceedings in the sedition case registered against filmmaker Aisha Sulthana by Lakshadweep police in view of the recent Supreme Court order staying proceedings in all such cases until the Union government completes re-examining Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

Aisha was booked in June last year on sedition charges following a complaint by a BJP leader in Lakshadweep that she spread false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory during a TV debate. Considering a plea filed by Aisha in view of the SC directive on sedition cases, Justice Ziyad Rahman stayed the proceedings for three months. The court had earlier granted bail to her in connection with the case.

On a news debate on June 7, 2021, while talking about the contentious reforms implemented by the Lakshadweep administration at the time, Aisha had critiqued the Union government alleging that a ‘bioweapon’ had been used in the UT. She later she said referred to Administrator and his policies as a bioweapon. The filmmaker later said that she was innocent of the allegations levelled against he and that she had been falsely implicated in the case with ulterior motives and vexatious intentions, according to her.

Following the direction of the Supreme Court, an interim relief was granted to the petitioner.

Delhi High Court Restrains Illegal Websites from Hosting Warner Bros Content

The Delhi High Court recently granted a permanent injunction in favour of global entertainment company Warner Brothers while restraining “rogue” torrent websites from distributing, broadcasting, transmitting, and streaming its content.

Warner Bros in its plea claimed that it had conducted an investigation and learnt of the extent of the infringing activity of the rogue websites, which had streamed and downloaded their original cinematograph films in which copyright vests. For the purposes of compliance with the orders of the court, the plaintiff had also impleaded various government departments and Internet Service Providers.

While holding that the suit could be decided summarily as the websites in question were not represented, Justice Navin Chawla held that the defendants had no real prospect of successfully defending their copyright infringement against Warner Bros and have also not chosen to contest the same.

The court held that this was a fit case for passing a summary judgment invoking the provisions of Order XIIIA of CPC, as applicable to the commercial disputes. The suit was, thus, decreed in favour of the Plaintiff.