IPRMENTLAW ANNUAL HIGHLIGHTS 2022

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Wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year. IPRMENTLAW turns 5 this January, 2023. Thanking you for being a part of this journey. Presenting to you the most awaited annual highlights compiled by team Iprmentlaw  (Sudarshan Mohta, Akshat Agrawal,  Angad Makkar, Lokesh Vyas, Aviral Srivastava, Ujjawal Bharagava, Vanshika Arora, Anusha Das and Anushree Rauta)

The broad categories of the highlights include the following topics

  • Copyright
  • Policy Issues
  • Defamation
  • Hurting religious and other sentiments/ content regulation
  • Privacy and Personality rights
  • Advertisement
  • Sports and Gaming
  • Trademark
  • Intermediary liability
  • Metaverse
  • Miscellaneous

COPYRIGHT

Shemaroo Vs News Nation: Bombay High Court Rejects Fair Dealing & De Minimis Defence, Grants Injunction in Favour of Shemaroo

The Bombay High Court granted injunction in favour of Shemaroo in a copyright infringement suit against News Nation and restrained the latter from exploiting Shemaroo’s content in any manner whatsoever on their TV channels “News Nation”, “News State UP and Uttarakhand”, “News State MP and Chhattisgarh” or any other channels or any other platform. While granting the injunction the Court factored the previous license executed between the parties, the qualitative and quantitative analysis and the commercial purpose for which the content was used.

The court ruled that the defence of de minimis non curat lex is often misconstrued as an excuse to infringe copyright. Parties are often mistaken that trivial usage without seeking license is permissible. Whether the principle of de minimis will apply to a particular usage is always ascertained basis facts of each case where the courts have delved into qualitative and quantitative tests, purpose of use, effect of such use on the legal rights of the copyright owner among others.

For detailed analysis of this order, please read our post here. Read order here.

Supreme Court grants Mumbai-based studio ownership of ‘Sholay’ in copyright dispute case

The Supreme Court on 29th March, 2022, granted Mumbai-based NH Studioz, the ownership of copyrights of the Bollywood cult classic ‘Sholay’. Copyrights of Sholay were held by NH Studioz since 2015. The rights of the movie were recently claimed by Sippy Films and Goldmine Telefilms.

Earlier, Generation Three Entertainment and Sholay Media and Entertainment owned by Sippy Films had wrongly terminated the copyright agreement signed by the original producers. NH Studioz challenged the stay put on by a division bench in the Supreme Court. The matter was ruled in the favour of NH Studioz and the copyrights of the movie were successfully retained by the company.

Read order here.

Bombay High Court Restrains Saregama From Infringing Shemaroo’s Copyright In ‘Disco Dancer’ Movie, Allows London Show To Go On

The Bombay High Court passed a temporary order restraining Saregama India Limited from infringing Shemaroo Entertainment Limited’s copyright in the Mithun Chakraborty starrer Disco Dancer. Though the interim order extends to performance of the stage play ‘Disco Dancer – The Musical’ by Saregama, the court clarified that the ad interim relief granted to Shemaroo will not affect the planned staging of the musical at a theatre in London from November 16.

Granting ad-interim relief in favour of the plaintiff, Justice Manish Pitale observed that prima facie the intellectual property rights and other theatrical rights of the film were assigned to Shemaroo by producer B Subhash in 2011, prior to a 2019 agreement cited by Shemaroo. On an overall assessment and appreciation of the clauses of all the agreements, the Court found that the plaintiff had made out a strong prima facie case in its favour.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court Rejects Amazon’s Plea Against Telecast Of India Vs New Zealand Matches By Private Cable And DTH Operators

The Delhi High Court on November 25 rejected a petition by Amazon challenging an order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which effectively allowed broadcast of India-New Zealand cricket matches by all private cable and Direct To Home (DTH) operators through DD Sports channel thereby diluting the exclusive media rights held by Amazon. It was Amazon’s case that the rights granted to Prasar Bharti are restricted for retransmission only on Prasar Bharti’s DTH platform – DD Free Dish — and not others like Dish TV. TDSAT had earlier passed an order on Dish TV’s plea ordering Prasar Bharti to supply DD Sports channel in an unencrypted mode.

On July 11, the court directed Telegram to preserve the Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) of its users as under the IT Rules 2021 that requires an intermediary in India to retain user information for a period of 180 days after any cancellation or withdrawal of registration.

The court ordered that the information be submitted in a sealed cover to the counsels for the plaintiff with a clear direction that neither the plaintiff nor the counsels shall disclose the data to any third party, except for the purposes of the proceeding or disclosure to government authorities or police.

 

Delhi High Court upholds that copyright owners have the right to dub cinema

A single judge bench of Justice Jyoti Singh has vacated its earlier ex-parte injunction order against M/s Sithara Entertainment which barred it from releasing the Hindi-dubbed version of its Telegu remake of the Malayalam movie, “Ayyappanum Koshiyum”. The court further held that the owners of the copyright in a cinematographic work have the right to sub-title and dub their work.

In this suit, the Plaintiffs had sought permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from dubbing the Telegu film “Bheemla Nayak” as the rights for Hindi remake were with the Plaintiff.

The decision of the court dated July 11, 2022 can be accessed here. The single bench order can be accessed here.

Copyright infringement case filed against makers of JugJugg Jeeyo, no stay on release

Recently, JugJugg Jeeyo starring Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Neetu Kapoor, and Anil Kapoor got into legal trouble when a Ranchi-based writer named Vishal Singh sued the makers of the movie for reported copyright violation. Consequently, the viewing of the film is presently scheduled in court before release. Dismissing the plea of the petitioner, the Court held that the balance of convenience lay in the defendants’ favour. “The plaintiff is not likely to succeed but presuming that even if they are still, the order for injunction is tilted in favour of the defendants considering the balances of convenience and irreparable loss,” said the court. And noted that “It is not possible for any person to reach a conclusion about the similarity merely on the basis of one-page story with the few minutes trailer of the film.

Read order: here

Bombay High Court grants ad interim relief to producers of show ‘Criminal Justice’ in copyright infringement suit (here)

The Bombay High Court in Applause Entertainment Private Ltd. vs Krishna Anand granted ad interim relief to Plaintiff, the producers of web series ‘Criminal Justice’. The suit was filed when they came across a casting call for the web series made by one Anand, through an Instagram account. Consequently, a legal notice to him to delete posts and to cease and desist from using the plaintiff’s material.

Delhi High Court allows release of Shamshera movie on OTT subject to deposit of Rs. 1 crore with registry

The Delhi High Court allowed the Yash Raj Films Private Limited to release the movie Shamshera on OTT Platforms on August 19, 2022 after depositing Rs. 1 crore with the court registry. The Court further held that failure on the part of the producers to deposit the amount by August 22, will lead to an injunction against further telecast of the movie from the very next day.The order comes in the light of the copyright infringement suit filed by Bikramjeet Singh Bhullar against YRF on the grounds that the movie is based on his literary work, ‘Kabu na chhadein khet’.

The order of the Court dated August 18, 2022 can be accessed here.

Another FIR Against Makers of Suriya’s Jai Bhim, This Time Under Copyright Act

The movie Jai Bhim has been making headlines for yet another FIR filed against the makers. In the latest case, director Gnanavel and producer Suriya have been accused for copyright infringement and  an FIR has been registered under Section 63 in the Copyright Act. The FIR has been registered by a man whose life story has been depicted in Jai Bhim.

In his complaint, the man has claimed that his royalty amount was not paid by the makers as the filmmakers had promised a profit share to him when he presented the story to the director-producer duo. Jai Bhim was previously caught in a legal battle for allegedly showing the Vanniyar community in a bad light. A case was registered against the director and the producer under section 295A of the IPC on May 17. Later, Suriya and Gnanavel had approached the Madras High Court to quash the FIR and had stated that a few scenes about the Vanniyar community were edited out before the release of Jai Bhim. The director also claimed that the complainant had not watched the movie properly, which led to false allegations. A member of the Vanniyar community then accused Gnanavel of showing Vanniyars engaging in illegal work. This claim was also rubbished by both Suriya and Gnanavel.

Later, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition registered against them.

Kantara: Court directs the makers to stop playing ‘Varaha Roopam’ song in theatres

The Kozhikode sessions court had issued an injunction barring the makers from playing the ‘Varaha Roopam’ song, after receiving a plagiarism lawsuit from the popular Malayalam music band, Thaikkudam Bridge. The song was also barred from all the major streaming platforms. A similar order was passed by the Palakkad District Court. Both these orders are no more into effect as in both suits, applications for return of plaints have been allowed by the respective courts. The Kerala High Court, although stayed the order of the Kozhikode Court returning the plaint, but clarified that the injunction that was granted prior to the same would no longer be in effect.

Detailed post here.

‘Jawaan’ plagiarism case: Producers council asks Manickam Narayanan to submit proofs

Popular Tamil director Atlee who is making his Bollywood debut with ‘Jawaan’ starring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role is facing trouble as a complaint has been filed against the director in the Tamil Film Producer Council over the film’s story. Recently, in the plagiarism case, the producer’s council has asked Manickam Narayanan for proof.

Producer council has begun the investigation over the complaint filed by Manickam Narayan as he claimed the 2006 Tamil ‘Perarasu’ and Jawaan’ stories are the same. The board members have reportedly heard both sides, and they asked Manickam Narayanan for proof supporting his complaint.

Shah Rukh Khan is said to be playing a dual role, the only similarity with Vijayakanth’s dual action drama ‘Perarasu’ so far. But Jawaan’ and ‘Perarasu’ stories are expected to be different ones since Shah Rukh Khan is said to be playing an army man in the Bollywood film, while Vijayakanth’s both characters are different in the 2006 Tamil film.

Kolkata filmmaker accuses T-Series of stealing Mister Mummy concept

Kolkata filmmaker has demanded credit for his story and alleged that TSeries has adopted his original idea for Riteish Deshmukh’s upcoming film Mister Mummy. The filmmaker claimed that his script is registered with the Screen Writers’ Association. The filmmaker has also posted screenshots of discussions with TSeries over his idea in 2020 which TSeries had apparently agreed to co-produce.

Netflix, Vir Das among four booked for infringement of Copyright

Ashwin Gidwani, a producer and who is also a managing director of Ashwin Gidwani production private limited has filed a complaint against OTT platform, Netflix, actor and stand-up comedian, Vir Das and two others before the Mumbai Police under the Copyright Act. In the complaint, is is alleged by the complainant that the four violated a copyright agreement related to a script and show known as “History of India VIRitten (2010)” by using concept and content of the said script and show for making a new one called “Virdas for India”.

Journalist Rajat Sharma submits before the Delhi High Court that he will not broadcast Aap Ki Adalat episodes shot between 1992 and 1997

Zee had earlier sued Rajat Sharma and India TV for copyright infringement after they aired an episode of Aap Ki Adalat starring former Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray which was produced by Zee. India TV and journalist Rajat Sharma have given an undertaking before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court that they will not broadcast the episodes of Aap Ki Adalat shot between 1992 and 1997 since they were produced by Zee.

FIR filed against CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai and MD of Youtube, Gautam Anand in a copyright infringement case by filmmaker Suneel Darshan

A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed by filmmaker Suneel Darshan against Google CEO, Sundar Pichai and Youtube MD, Gautam Anand for infringement of copyright of his 2017 movie ‘Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha’. Mr. Darshan approached a Mumbai Court in a private complaint alleging that the movie was illegally uploaded on Youtube even though he did not give any rights of the film to any person.

Bombay High Court refuses to stall release of “Mission to Pakistan”

The Bombay High Court heard an interim application in a commercial suit filed by the plaintiff, Solflicks Filmworks Pvt. Ltd. (SFPL) against the defendant, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEE). The application sought stay on ZEE from using any intellectual property rights belonging to SFPL with respect to the series ‘Mission to Pakistan’ and also restraining the defendant from entering into any agreement with any third party in respect of the said series.

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court denied the relief sought by the plaintiff and refused to stall the release of the web series by denying the ad-interim relief sought through the application.

Read order here.

Madras HC Rules in favour of Ilaiyaraaja in 8-year-old copyright infringement case

The Madras High Court on Feb 18 restrained record labels from utilising original songs by composer Ilaiyaraja in the appeal filed by him against single bench order. The division bench ruled in favour of the music composer and said that the Echo and Agi Recording will not be allowed to distribute Ilaiyaraaja music after the termination of the contract. The next hearing has been adjourned until March 21, while allowing the music labels to present their side.

According to reports, the Echo and Agi Recording firms had reached an arrangement to sell Ilaiyaraaja’s works on CDs and cassettes. Ilaiyaraaja filed a lawsuit in 2014 against music labels and others for allegedly infringing his licensing over the songs he composed. He claimed that the companies were not only infringing on his copyrights but also profiting from his music after the contract was terminated. In 2019, the single bench, ruled in favour of the music labels Echo and Agi Audio. However, Ilaiyaraaja’s songs were prohibited from being monetised through TV reality shows, concerts and online radio channels without his permission. Films with music created by Ilaiyaraaja that have been released and shown in theatres were exempted from the order.

Telangana High Court sets aside injunction order against Alt Balaji’s show “Lock Upp”

Telangana High Court vide its order dated 26th February, 2022 set aside an injunction order passed by City Civil Court in a copyright infringement case filed by Pride Media.

In the suit filed by Pride Media proprietary Firm represented by its proprietor Abdul Haleem Baig, the Plaintiff claimed that he came up with the story by name the ‘The Jail ‘ and prepared script with 22 celebrities. The concept story is the reality show for 100 days and the story was registered in “Screen Writers’ Association.” They could not produce the same due to lock down and COVID -19 when they were gearing up to mobilize production, they came to know about the Defendant’s show which they alleged to be infringing their copyright. An ad interim ex parte injunction was passed by City Civil Court on 23.02.2022. In the appeal filed by Alt Balaji, the Telangana High Court found balance of convenience in favour of the Appellant i.e., Alt Balaji on account of delay of the plaintiff in approaching the court and huge amounts being spent by Alt Balaji on the show which was scheduled to release on 27.02.2022. Accordingly the High Court set aside the injunction order passed by the trial court.

Supreme Court Refuses To Stop Streaming Of Reality Show ‘Lock Upp’ Over Copyright Infringement Dispute

The relief was sought against an ad-interim Special Leave Petition against the judgment dated 26th February, 2022, passed by the Telangana High Court setting aside the ad-interim injunction granted by the Trial Court against the reality show.

The Supreme Court refused to entertain the petition seeking directions to Alt Balaji and its agents to restrain from exhibiting and publishing the reality show on OTT platforms, YouTube and other social media.

While noting that the show has already been telecasted, a bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna granted liberty to the petitioner to move the Trial Court for expeditious hearing of their interim injunction application.

Madras HC notice to makers of Valimai for ‘plagiarism’

The Madras High Court on March 11, 2022 issued notice to makers of Ajith-starrer Valimai, including producer Boney Kapoor and director H Vinoth on a petition alleging plagiarism of the movie Metro. Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy issued the orders for notice returnable by March 17 on a petition filed by J Jayakrishnan, joint producer of Metro. He said Metro opened a new plot of story telling in the Tamil film industry wherein the subject issue connects unemployment, chain snatching and drug peddling and was narrated and depicted in a unique manner. The storytelling, character selection and emotional elements made the movie a success.The plaintiff said a substantial portion of Valimai is derived from the story of Metro. Jayakrishnan sought for the court to restrain the defendants from screening the film in theatres and exhibiting it on OTT platforms and television channels. He further  sought for the defendants to pay damages of Rs 1 crore.

Madras High Court admits Ilaiyaraaja’s plea seeking copyright on musical work in 30 films

The division bench comprising Justices M Duraiswamy and T V Tamil Selvi admitted a plea from music maestro Ilaiyaraaja to stay the operation of a single judge’s order that permanently restrained him from claiming copyright over entire musical work and sound recordings related to 30 feature films in South Indian languages, produced during the 1980s.

The matter arose when Indian Record Manufacturing Company Limited (INERCO) filed a suit against Ilaiyaraaja and Agi Music Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) and Unisys Info Solutions Private Limited (Haryana), seeking permanent injunction restraining them from in any manner infringing its copyright over the entire musical works and sound recordings contained in the schedule mentioned in the feature films.

Kerala High Court: Mere Similarities Do Not Attract S. 14 of the Copyright Act

The Kerala High Court dismissed an appeal moved by the broadcasting team of a popular Malayalam sitcom ‘Uppum Mulakum’ seeking an injunction on the telecasting of an imitation of the appellant’s programme.

As observed by the Apex Court, there cannot be any copyright in an idea, subject matter, themes, plots, or historical or legendary facts; in such a situation, the violation of copyright will stand confined only to the form, manner, arrangement and expression of the idea by the author of the copyrighted work.

The Court reiterated that when an idea originated or developed from a common source, similarities are bound to occur, and unless the fundamental or substantial aspects of the mode of expression adopted in the copyrighted work, the same cannot be brought under the purview of violation.

“Mere employment of very same actors in a different atmosphere, though it is pertaining to the day-to-day life of a family may not by itself bring the matter within the sweep of the copyright as defined under Section 14, especially when one is dealing with a Hindu family and the other one is dealing with a Hindu family and the other one is dealing with a Christian Anglo-Indian family.”

Bombay High Court Refuses To Stay Release of Shahid Kapoor Starrer ‘Jersey’

The suit was filed alleging that several aspects of plaintiff’s script, like the story line and concept, have been plagiarised by the producers of Jersey, which is a remake of a Telugu film.

After hearing arguments advanced by both the parties, the Court noted that there was a substantial delay by the plaintiff in approaching the HC. The Telugu film, which was later dubbed in English was available since 2019.

Read order here.

Delhi court stops movie release over alleged infringement of late Parikrama guitarist Sonam Sherpa’s works

A Delhi court has stopped release of the film Broken Wings over the works of late Parikrama band member and musician Sonam Sherpa’s works allegedly being used in the movie without consent.

The Delhi Court has prima facie found a case of copyright infringement. Restraining the release of the film, District Judge Sanjiv Jain said the film can only be released if the late artist’s works are deleted.

The court held that prima facie case exists in favour of the plaintiff. Balance of convenience also lies in favour of plaintiff as, if the defendant is allowed to use the same by the time trial comes to an end, he would exploit the musical works to his full advantage to the detriment of the plaintiff.

The court was hearing a suit filed by the late musician’s wife, Dina Ramliani Ralte. She alleged that her husband’s works were used in the film, which was set to be released on April 29, by the defendant without consent or credit.

According to the judge, Sherpa’s musical works were used in the film without the authority or consent of the plaintiff. The court decided to restrain the defendants from releasing the film if the two songs, Timro Mero and There She Goes, were not deleted till May 19, 2022.

Supreme Court Dismisses Director SJSuryah’s Plea For Injunction Against Hindi Remake Of Tamil Film ‘Valee’

A Supreme Court bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna upheld the Madras High Court’s order dated November 12, 2021 of refusing to grant injunction against the remake of the Tamil film “Valee”. SJ Suryah, the director of the 1999 film starring Ajith and Simran, had approached the Top Court.

Although the bench upheld the High Court’s judgement, it said that if ultimately the plaintiff succeeds in the suit and establishes his right, he can claim the damages and/or compensation. The injunction which was sought for copyright infringement was against the producer and one Fakrudeen Ali, who had bought the remake rights of the film, ‘Vaalee’.

SJ Suryah had claimed that credit for the story, screenplay and dialogue pertaining to the film was given to him. While dismissing the plea for grant of interim relief by way of injunction, the High Court had noted that the director had failed to produce anything that prima facie denotes his rights over the screenplay and dialogue.

Read order here

Supreme Court allows OTT release of Amitabh Bachchan’s Jhund

Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and A S Bopanna of the Supreme Court stayed the order of the Telangana High Court which had restricted release of the film.

The Bench held that the High Court had overlooked the principles concerning the grant of interim relief in such matters and said that prima facie, the impugned order was against the balance of convenience.

Read the High Court order here

Writer Shiva Murthy files Plagiarism case against makers of Ravi Teja and Shruti Haasan starrer “Krack”

Shiva Subrahmaniya Murthy, a Hyderabad-based writer, filed a complaint against producer Tagore Madhu at the Jubilee Hills police station, alleging that the film’s story has been lifted from a book he published in 2015. Confirming the same, SHO Rajshekar Reddy tstates “On May 12, an individual named Shiva Subrahmaniya Murthy filed a complaint against Tagore Madhu for allegedly plagiarising the story of Krack. He claims his story has been used without consent. As the film was released more than a year ago, we are taking legal opinion on whether a case can be filed now. We have not reached out to the makers yet.”

Delhi High Court Decrees Copyright Ownership Suit Filed By TV Music Composer Abhishek Ray Against Showtime Events

The Delhi High Court has held that the original producer, lyricist and composer of a music album is entitled to a decree of declaration to that effect. A single judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh thus granted a decree of permanent injunction in favour of TV music composer Abhishek Ray, claiming rights over music album ‘Kamasutra – Moods of Love’. Ray had approached the High Court against Showtimes Events (India) Pvt. Ltd., run by defendants R. Paul and Michael Menezes.

The case of the Plaintiff was that the Plaintiff merely agreed to assign the ‘right to use’ the musical compositions to the Defendants for the proposed musical. All other rights in the sound recordings and music compositions were retained by the Plaintiff.

Read order here.

Har Har Sambhu’: Odisha Composer Claims Copyright Violation, To Sue Farmani Naaz

After the alleged fatwa for singing ‘Har Har Shambhu’, Farmani Naaz of Indian Idol fame has run into another trouble with a composer from Odisha intending to sue her over copyright violation.

A song by the same name rendered by Keonjhar girl Abhilipsa Panda, which made her a social media sensation, has been composed by Jeetu Sharma. The ‘Shiva Stotra’, which was uploaded on April 19, has garnered more than 8 million views. Farmani, a resident of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, uploaded the music cover on her YouTube channel on July 24 during the Kanwar Yatra.

Decree Against Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) For Playing Music Without License

The Ad-hoc District Judge-1 (FTC-1), Panjim, after hearing the counsel for IPRS stated that “They (ESG) are permanently restrained from infringing the copyright of IPRS in any musical works by holding any concerts under the umbrella of International Film festival of India (IFFI) or any other such events at Kingfisher Village in public” and has ordered the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) to pay Rs 5,77,500 to the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) towards the royalty licence fee for infringement of copyright.

ISRA Withdraws Suits Filed in Delhi High Court

In lieu of amicable settlement ISRA withdraws suits against Ashok Singh, Debashish Mukherjee, Deepak Arora, Garuav Mehta, A. D. Singh, Marshal Sports Pvt. Ltd., Amit Kumar Chauhan, Priyanshu Sukheja, Harminder Singh and others.

Expert Opinion of Dr Arul Scaria in Phonographic Performance Limited vs Lookpart Exhibitions and Events Private Ltd. is taken on Record (see here).

The Delhi high court recently in a suit filed by Phonographic Performance Limited against Lookpart Exhibitions and Events Private Ltd., an event management company, appointed an expert Dr. Arul George Scaria (associate professor of law and co-director, Centre for Innovation, IP and Competition at National law University, Delhi) to assist in the interpretation of section 52(1)(za) of the Copyright Act, 1957 to the extent of fair use of sound recordings in marriage ceremonies and weddings. As reported: The bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh said the issue raised would have large scale implications for artists such as lyricists, music composers, singers, sound recording producers and owners and also added that it would also have a significant impact on entities involved in the organisation and management of weddings and other social events. (see here

The parties settled the settled out of court and the Court (merely) took the expert opinion on record noting “. . . the valuable assistance rendered by the Expert – Dr. Scaria. Considering the time and effort expended by Dr. Scaria in addressing the legal issues which have been raised in the present suit”.

Dr Scaria’s full submissions can be found here on his SSRN Page.

Read order here.

Punjab and Haryana High Court quashes notice allowing playing of songs without license from copyright owner during weddings [Novex Communications Private Limited v. Union of India & Anr.]

Recently, a single judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a public notice allowing sound recordings to be played without obtaining a license from the copyright owner during any religious ceremonies or wedding processions. The said notice was issued by the Registrar of Copyrights. While quashing the notice, Justice Raj Mohan Singh stated that a notice granting a general exemption violates the protection granted by the Copyright Act, 1957 to the owners of Copyright.

Read order here.

Pahari Performing Rights Association files application for registration as a copyright society for musical work and lyrics

The Copyright Office vide public notice dated February 18, 2022, notified that the Pahari Performing Rights Association has filed an application for registration as a copyright society under Section 33 of the Copyright Act, 1957 for carrying out business of issuing or granting license in respect of musical works as defined under Section 2(p) of the Copyright Act, 1957 and literary work associated with musical work. The Copyright Office has invited objections / comments from general public/ stakeholders within 30 days of publication of the notice. Read the public notice here.

RMPL Vs PPL: Delhi High Court as a pro-tem measure reinstates RMPL as a copyright society for sound recordings while at the same time directing government to consider PPL’s application

Delhi High Court vide its order dated April 11, 2022 granted relief to both RMPL and PPL in their conflict over registration as a copyright society. The Court has granted, as a pro tem measure, a stay on the decision of the single judge order to the extent that it disallows RMPL from functioning as a Copyright Society. The Division Bench has also directed the Government of India to consider the application of PPL during the pendency of the appeal- within four weeks. Read our detailed post here.

Universal City Studios Llc & Ors  Vs Vegamovies.Run & Ors: Delhi High Court grants dynamic injunction against rogue websites in favour of Universal City Studios

The Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte injunction in a suit filed by Universal City Studios and others against several rogue websites such as vegamovies.run and others. The Court relied on the UTV Software Communication Ltd case to be freed from constant monitoring and adjudicating the issues of mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites and  directed that as and when the Plaintiffs file an application under Order 1 Rule 10 CPC for impleadment of such websites, Plaintiffs shall file an affidavit confirming that the newly impleaded website is a mirror/redirect/alphanumeric website which appears to be associated with any of the Defendant Websites based on its name, branding or the identity of its operator, or has been discovered to provide additional means of accessing the Defendant Websites and other domains/domain along with their subdomains and subdirectories, owners/website operators/entities which are discovered to have been engaging in infringing the Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights, with sufficient supporting evidence. Such application shall be listed before the Joint Registrar, who on being satisfied with the material placed on record, shall issue appropriate directions to the ISPs.

Read order: here

Bengaluru Police registers FIR against rogue digital platforms involved in content piracy

Bengaluru Police recently filed FIR against rogue digital platforms namely, TamilMV, TamilBlasters. Tamilrockers, and a third party rogue app Pikashow TV following a complaint that has been filed by Disney Star. The said FIR has been registered under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 63 and 65 of the Copyright Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

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.

Delhi High Court restrains unauthorized DTH operators, ‘rogue websites’ from broadcasting India-England series

The Delhi High Court recently passed an ex-parte order on a plea by Sony pictures restraining 39 rogue websites from streaming the matches of the upcoming series between Indian and England. It was argued by Sony pictures that it owns the broadcasting and streaming rights of the cricket matches in various countries of the South-Asian region.

Delhi High Court Closes Suit By Hotstar Against Rogue Websites Over Unauthorized Telecasting Of ‘The Big Bull Film’

The Delhi High Court has disposed of a suit by Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (Hotstar), filed against various rogue websites apprehending illegal and unauthorized telecast of ‘The Big Bull’ film before its release last year.

While the movie was slated for theatrical release on 8th April, 2021, the suit was filed on 22nd March 2021 seeking an injunction blocking various rogue websites.

Justice Prathiba M Singhwho decreed the suit after observing that it has served the purpose, ordered that the nature of the present suit was intended to protect the Plaintiff’s investment in the film ‘The Big Bull’ and to ensure that no unauthorised online telecast of the film takes place, and since the suit has served its purpose, all the rogue websites have been blocked and domain names have also been de-activated.

Read order here.

Delhi High court restrains rogue websites from streaming Asia Cup 2022

In a judgment related to a suit filed by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited, the Delhi HC restrained 11 rogue websites from streaming and broadcasting matches of the Asia Cup 2022.

Star India, which had the global rights of the event, filed the suit in the court as these websites (mentioned in their suit) regularly rebroadcast the live match content illegally and the exclusivity of the rights earned by the broadcaster is being violated.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, while noting that various sporting events are usually unauthorisedly broadcasted and streamed by various websites, said that Star India has the global rights of online streaming and hence no other website should broadcast the event illegally. The court also directed the Domain Name Registrars (DNRs), Department of Technology (DoT), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY), and Internet Service Providers to immediately block the domains of these websites and maintain status quo during the tournament.

Piracy needs to be dealt with heavy hand says the Delhi High Court in a case involving “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva” –

The Delhi High Court restrained 18 rogue websites from streaming or hosting the upcoming Bollywood movie “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva” and granted ex parte ad interim relief to Star India Private Limited. The Court also directed the Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue necessary notifications calling upon various Internet Service Providers to block access to the websites in question. (Read here)

Delhi HC restrains 23 “rogue websites” from streaming Akshay Kumar-starrer Ram Setu

The Delhi high court has restrained 23 “rogue websites” from distributing, hosting, streaming, retransmitting, exhibiting and downloading of the upcoming movie Ram Setu, saying that piracy has to be curbed and needs to be dealt with a heavy hand.

The producer had listed 23 video sharing websites that are known to offer visitors download links to movies and web series.

The Court said “Looking at the investments made by the plaintiff in the production and promotion of the film as also the exclusive right vested in it under the provisions of the Act, this court prima facie agrees with the plaintiff that if the rogue websites communicate the film in any manner, on any platform, simultaneously with the theatrical release of the film on October 25 or in its close proximity thereafter, it would severely impact the interest of the plaintiff monetarily and will also erode the value of the film.”

Delhi High Court Orders Blocking Of ‘Pika Show’ App In India, Says ‘Large Amount’ Of Copyrighted Content Being Streamed Illegally

The Delhi High Court has ordered blocking of ‘PikaShow’ mobile application, observing that it is a “rogue app” which is intended “only to broadcast and stream illegal content.”

Passing interim injunction against the application and its owners, Justice Prathiba M Singh directed Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to issue blocking orders against Pika Show app and all the domain names making it available, to ensure that it is blocked by all internet service providers (ISPs)across the country.

The direction was passed in a suit filed by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited seeking a permanent injunction against the mobile application Pika Show, alleging that it was hosting infringing content over which they have exclusive rights and copyright. The court also said that the source domains are privacy protected and there are no details whatsoever as to who their registrants are. Observing that blocking of URLs themselves may not be sufficient to stop the streaming of infringing content, the court thus passed an order of interim injunction restraining the application and its owners from making available the same through any of the domain names or websites.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court Orders Suspension Of Over 700 Rogue Websites Accused Of Illegally Streaming Film ‘Bhuj: The Pride of India’

The Delhi High Court has permanently restrained a total of 732 rogue websites from broadcasting and streaming the Ajay Devgn starrer movie “Bhuj: The Pride of India.”

The movie has now been released on various online and OTT platforms. Justice Prathiba M Singh decreed a suit filed last year by Star India Private Limited and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited against 42 rogue websites seeking that the websites be restrained permanently from communicating the film to the public.

On August 9 last year, the court had passed an order of interim injunction against the 42 rogue websites as set out in the plaint, restraining them from broadcasting the movie.

However, despite the interim order, the court was apprised that additional URLs and domain names were also illegally streaming the film. In this regard, the plaintiffs then filed affidavits bringing on record various other domain names and websites.

Noting that the movie has already been released on various platforms including the OTT platforms and other online platforms, the court directed the domain name registrars to ensure that the impugned domain names are suspended, locked and status quo is maintained in respect of the same.

Read order here.

Madras High Court Restrains Over 12K Websites From Illegally Broadcasting FIFA World Cup 2022

The Madras High Court on November 18, granted interim injunction to Viacom18 and restrained more than 12,000 websites from showcasing the FIFA World Cup 2022. Viacom18, the plaintiff in the suit proceedings, contended that they have the exclusive rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the territories of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. For this, they had acquired all the necessary broadcasting rights including television rights, broadband transmission rights, mobile transmission rights and non-exclusive radio rights. They also submitted the letter issued by FIFA in this regard confirming their rights.

The plaintiff further provided a list of 12037 websites who were infringing upon Viacom18’s exclusive copyright in the sporting event. It was submitted that there was no possibility of blocking the infringing content alone in the websites. The court also gave liberty to the respondent ISPs to block the infringing websites. The order is to operate for a period of four weeks till the next hearing on December 16.

Read order here.

Bombay High Court passed John Doe order for the movie ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’

Recently, in Bhanushali Studios Ltd. & Ors. Vs. Telegram Messenger LLP & Anr., the Bombay HC passed an order for the plea filed by Bhanushali Studio Ltd. seeking urgent ad-interim relief for removal or deletion of infringing links of the movie “Janhit Mein Jaari” with immediate effect. The bench not only directed the concerned police stations to provide necessary assistance in this regard but also granted liberty to the producers to apply for removal of links if they find more infringing links.

Read order: here

Delhi HC Orders to Take Down URLs Infringing Trademark of Radio Mirchi

The bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar while dealing a case seeking an order of restrain against the defendants from broadcasting/transmitting/communicating the radio adaptation of literary works in which the plaintiff has copyright, under the brand name “Sunday Suspense” on any webpage/web link/application/intermediary platform granted interim protection to the Plaintiff for their registered device mark “Mirchi”.

The right to create copyrighted audio recordings based on the aforesaid literary works stands conferred on the plaintiff for three years commencing 22nd August 2022, which continues till 21st August 2025.

Defendants 1 to 25 are alleged rogue URLs, engaged in unauthorized and illegal broadcasting transmission and communication of the plaintiff’s copyrighted audio content. These URLs used well-known platforms operated by entities such as Apple and YouTube to broadcast their content.

The case of the plaintiff is that Defendants 1 to 25 URLs provide access to the copyrighted audio content of the plaintiff, under the head “Sunday Suspense”, and also refer to the Mirchi tagline of the plaintiff.

High Court observed that a prima facie case of infringement, over the web links is made out and granted interlocutory injunctive reliefs to the Plaintiff. In view of the above, the High Court directed Defendants 26 to 30 to take down the URLs reflected as Defendants 1 to 25 from their platforms.

Read Order here.

Madras High Court Orders Blocking Of More Than 13000 Websites To Prevent Piracy Of Vikram Vedha

The Madras High Court has ordered the blocking of over 13000 websites to prevent piracy of Vikram Vedha, a movie released yesterday. The interim injunction has been passed in a suit filed by Reliance Entertainment Studio Pvt Ltd.

Two separate orders have been passed by the Bench of Justice M. Sundar. The Bench restrained the respondents from infringing Copyright in the movie to prevent transmission, communication, display and exhibition of the movie and ordered that “for this purpose, if blocking of websites/web pages set out in Schedule-A to judge’s summons becomes necessary, the same shall be done by all concerned”.

The Court has also ordered restraining the respondents from recording, reproducing or allowing camera recording or allowing others to transmit, communicate or make available or distributing or duplicating or displaying or releasing or showing or uploading or downloading or exhibiting or playing and/or in any manner whatsoever from communicating the movie without a proper license.

The injunction was granted ex-parte since the Court found that ordering notice will entail delay and defeat the object of granting an interim order. The Court found that if the interim order is not granted, it can result in the piracy being completed in all aspects of the matter and it will lead to an irreversible situation causing irreparable legal injury incapable of compensation.

The interim injunction has been granted for a period of 6 weeks, on the interim applications.

Click here to read order.

Viacom18 files FIR over piracy of the movie ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’

Viacom18 filed a FIR at a Bangalore Police Station against a suspect who was arrested for indulging in piracy of the movie, Laal Singh Chaddha. Viacom18 received a tip from Cinepolis, Orion Mall, Bangalore against the accused.

During the investigation, the police discovered incriminating evidence showing the possibility of an organised crime syndicate operating to illegally upload and distribute the film and other pirated content. It was also discovered that the accused may have been involved in a larger piracy circuit with websites such as Tamilrockers and Primerockers, websites notorius for uploading and illegally uploading pirated content.

Vikram: Madras High Court Restricts Websites From Unauthorised Screening Of Kamal Haasan’s Film

After the Madras High Court restricted Internet Service Providers (ISP) and over 1000 websites from unauthorised screening or copying of the Kamal Haasan starrer Vikram, the superstar’s production house Raaj Kamal Films International is on high alert.

The production house has communicated to all the Internet Service Providers and sites that stringent legal action would be taken if the movie is copied or transmitted or if misused. According to the report of IANS, Madras High Court judge, Justice Saravanan had on a petition filed by R. Murali Krishnan of Raaj Kamal Films International, restraining 29 ISPs including BSNL, Vodafone idea, Airtel, and Reliance Jio and 1308 websites from unauthorised copying or transmission of Vikram, the complete movie or in parts.

‘Pirates’ Robbing Entertainment Giants Back In Focus As Disney Star Files Fir On Leaked Shows

An FIR filed in Bengaluru by streaming platform Disney Star against alleged piracy of their content has again brought to the fore a problem that industry insiders claim has long troubled production houses, and, of late, OTT platforms.

The legal provisions invoked in the FIR are Section 66 of the Information Technology Act (computer-related offences), besides Section 63 (offence of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by Copyright Act) and Section 65 (possession of plates for purpose of making copies) of the Copyright Act, besides Section 420 of the IPC (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).

According to a report by the London-based Digital TV Research, OTT players in India risked losing an estimated revenue of $3.08 billion by 2022 because of piracy, where the revenue loss to piracy worldwide was pegged at $52 billion.

Meanwhile, a joint report published by content delivery network Akamai and tech company MUSO (which provides anti-piracy solutions) shows that global demand for pirated content went up between January 2021 and September 2021.

India, it said, recorded 6.5 billion visits to piracy websites, the third-highest after the US (13.5 billion) and Russia (7.2 billion).

Delhi High Court passes John Doe order restraining rogue websites from reproducing content from talk show ‘Unstoppable’

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday passed a John Doe order restraining various rogue websites from illegally reproducing content from the show ‘Unstoppable’ which airs on the over the top (OTT) platform Aha run by Arha Media and Broadcasting [Arha Media and Broadcasting Pvt Ltd vs www.vcinema.com & Ors.].

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva observed that given the plaintiff’s investment in the show, any illegal broadcasting would severely affect its monetary interest, and also diminish the value of the show. Hence, he ruled that a strong prima facie case was made out for grant of ex-parte ad interim injunction.

The plaintiff approached the Court seeking a restraint on illegal and unauthorized dissemination of the plaintiff’s alleged original content in its talk show series ‘Unstoppable’ which airs on its OTT Platform, Aha. The plaintiff submitted that any unauthorized reproduction of any part of the show, amounts to not only an infringement of its copyright, but also an infringement of the plaintiff’s exclusive broadcast reproduction rights.

Further, the plaintiff contended that most of the infringing websites did not disclose their names, addresses and other details due to which they were joined as ‘John Doe’ parties in the suit.

The court further asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to direct all registered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove any infringing links provided by the plaintiff, to direct ISPs to block rogue websites mentioned by the plaintiff and to provide plaintiff with complete details of the rogue websites, including but not limited to name, address, email address, phone number, IP address, etc., to enable the plaintiff to implead the said websites as defendants..

Read order here.

Delhi High Court states infringing content to be taken down from Telegram [Doctutorials Edutech Private Limited v. Telegram FZ-LLC & Ors.]

A suit was filed by the plaintiff Doctutorials Edutech Pvt. Ltd. against Telegram and some unknown defendants and any other person associated with them for releasing some of the paid content of the plaintiff on the social media platform, Telegram. The plaintiff provides online content for preparation of medical entrance exams whose sole rights are with the plaintiff only.

The Court held that the plaintiff had made a prima facie case and said that if the content is not taken down then the plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm if the relief is not granted and concluded that the content be taken down from telegram.

Delhi High Court Directs Telegram Messenger To Disclose Identity Of Users Sharing Dainik Jagran’s Epaper

The Delhi High Court has directed the instant messaging app Telegram to comply with a 2022 order directing it to disclose the basic subscriber information of the users who unauthorizedly upload and share ePaper of Dainik Jagran newspaper in PDF in their channels. The Court took note of the submissions by the plaintiff that this issue is no longer res integra and has been settled by a Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in Neetu Singh and Another v. Telegram FZ LLC and Others, 2022, SCC OnLine Del 2637.

Jagran Prakashan Limited, the media group which owns the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran, in 2020 filed a suit submitting that its ePaper, which can be accessed only after subscription, was being made available for free in PDF on various channels on Telegram. It argued that Telegram cannot escape from its liability on the ground that it is an intermediary, and must pull down the channels. Delhi HC had on May 29, 2020 ordered Telegram to disclose the identity of the users or owners of channels impleaded by the media group in its suit. In December 2020, Jagran Prakashan filed an application stating that Telegram had not complied with the direction.

Telegram discloses names and subscriber information of alleged copyright infringers second time To Delhi HC

India Today Group, earlier this year filed a suit seeking permanent injunction against Telegram channels which are allegedly infringing its trademarks and copyrights.

Earlier in March, Telegram had told the court that the offending channels have been deleted as per the list submitted by the media conglomerate.

When ‘Privacy’ met ‘Copyright’: Telegram ordered to Disclose Source

The Delhi High Court remarked that just because Telegram’s servers are not located in India does not mean that Indian courts cannot deal with copyright disputes. The Court ordered Telegram to disclose details of creators and operators of certain Telegram channels who were infringing copyright laws. This information includes phone numbers, IP addresses, and email addresses in a “sealed cover” within a period of two weeks. (Read here) Telegram has now done this.

Section 63 Copyright Act – Copyright Infringement Is A Cognizable & Non Bailable Offence:  Supreme Court (see here)

Recently, the Supreme Court in Knit Pro International vs State of NCT of Delhi, the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna held that the offence of copyright infringement under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and nonbailable offence. Further, referring to Section 63 of the Copyright Act and Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr. P.C, the Court noted:

“In that view of the matter considering Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C., if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence. Only in a case where the offence is punishable for imprisonment for less than three years or with a fine only the offence can be said to be non­cognizable. The language of the provision in Part II of First Schedule is very clear and there is no ambiguity whatsoever.”

Section 63 Of Copyright Act Is Cognizable Offence, Police Can Register FIR On Receipt Of Complaint: Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court has held that Section 63 of the Copyright Act, which prescribes a punishment of minimum 6 months that may extend to 3 years imprisonment, is cognizable offence and police can register a First Information Report, on receipt of a complaint.

Justice M Nagaprasanna observed that merely because a separate provision under Section 64 of the Act which depicts power of search and seizure by the Police is also found in the statute, it does not take away cognizability of the offence punishable under Section 63 of the Act. The court further noted that in a given case, the competent criminal Court can sentence an offender under Section 63 of the Act to three years imprisonment Exact three years is a possibility in a given circumstance. Therefore, would fall under Item No.2 of Schedule II of the Cr.P.C.

The Court further noted that on a cumulative analysis of the Act and the judgments rendered by various constitutional Courts what would unmistakably emerge is, Section 63 of the Act as it existed earlier, the maximum punishment that could be imposed was imprisonment for a period of one year. It is the amendment in the year 1984, that enhanced the period of imprisonment to three years. The objects and reasons are very clear as to why such an enhancement is done. Even otherwise in the light of afore-quoted judgments of the constitutional Courts it cannot but be held that the offences punishable under Section 63 of the Act are cognizable.

The background of the case is that the petitioner, ANI Technologies Private Limited (also known as Ola Cabs) and its Directors had approached the court calling in question registration of FIR against them under Section 63 of the Copyright Act on account of the Petitioner launching Ola Play where several of the contents of music videos and songs belonging to several of the films whose music copyrights the respondent owns, owns were being displayed under the feature Ola play and on the ground that the Petitioner is indulging in commercial exploitation of copyright of music.

Read Order here.

Gujarat High Court – no infringement under Section 51 of the Copyright Act if person holds Certificate by Registrar or License by Owner

The Gujarat High Court recently explained that when a person uses a copyright without the permission of the license owner or the Registrar, it shall amount to an infringement of copyright under Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957. If a person had a certificate issued by Registrar of Copyright, then Section 64 of the Copyright Act cannot be invoked.

The order of the court dated September 14, 2022 can be accessed here.

Gujarat High Court reiterates the rule of subsistence of Copyright in artwork till death of author and 60 years thereafter

In a suit pertaining to infringement of artwork, Justice AP Thaker held that as per Section 22 of the Copyright Act, 1957, copyright would subsist in the life time of the author and until 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the author dies.

The Court observed that copyright cannot come to an end on a particular date. Thus, the Respondent, a former employee of Plaintiff, had infringed upon the Plaintiff’s copyright by reproducing the work under a different trade name.

The order of the Court dated 09.06.2022 can be accessed here.

‘No irreparable loss caused’: Delhi HC refuses India Today interim relief in a copyright case against Newslaundry 

In a claim of defamation and copyright infringement against Newslaundry, the Court favored Newslaundry and refused to issue a direction to take down its videos which contain clips from India Today and Aaj Tak broadcasts. Relying on the Supreme Court decision on Sakal Papers (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, (1962) 3 SCR 842, Justice Asha Menon noted that right to comment on content created on social media or TV channels is a facet of the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The order reads “…the right to free speech and expression carries with it the right to publish and circulate one’s ideas, opinions and views with complete freedom and by resorting to the available means of publication, which, in the opinion of this Court, would also mean and include not only the electronic media and T.V. channels, but also the social-media platforms as the object of publication and broadcast is the same i.e., to reach out to the public.” (read here).

Delhi High Court refuses to stay “Legends League Cricket” tournament, observes that there can be no copyright over cricket

The Delhi High Court has observed that no one can claim copyright over the game of cricket and evolution on the evolution of the 5-days Test match format to the T-20 cricket.

The Single Judge Bench refused to stay the staging of the upcoming cricket league called Legends League Cricket tournament. However, the league organizers were directed to maintain clear accounts of their expenditure and earnings with respect to the matches.

The case arose out of a complaint filed by the Plaintiff stating that he had discussed the idea of the format of the tournament having retired players play for 10 overs which was stolen by the Defendant when they adopted this format for the league.

The order of the Court dated 19th January, 2022 can be accessed here.

Flipkart gets relief from Allahabad High Court in a case over sale of products in violation of Copyright Act

Allahabad High Court orders a stay on any coercive action against Flipkart Internet Private Limited and its officials till the next date of hearing in a case related to the sale of counterfeit products on the company’s website.

The case against the e-commerce company concerns with Flipkart selling products like articles and books that is in violation of the Copyright Act, 1957. However, Flipkart argued that the publishers should be held under the Act and not the platform as it is a mere intermediary.

The order of the court dated 9th March, 2022 can be read here.

Read our detailed post here.

Copyright infringement dispute over Sports Stock Exchange, Excuse22 wins over MyFab11 (see order here)

In a recent rift between Excuse22 and MyFab11, the former got an injunction against MyFab11 which was alleged to have launched a replica version of the exchange day before IPL 2022. Delhi High Court granted an ex parte ad interim injunction in favour of EXCHANGE 22, India’s 1st Sports Stock Exchange, a fantasy gaming app brand registered with Hulm Entertainment Pvt. Ltd The defendant’s version included exactly a similar gaming interface, front-end analytics gaming data, including player prices along with similar advertising and promotional strategies. Excuse22 is India’s first Sports Stock Exchange and gaming app. The domain registrar was also directed to suspend the domain name registration for myfab11.com.(You can also read LiveLaw’s short post on this.)

Supreme Court allows PUMA to withdraw its Copyright infringement case

The Supreme Court allowed Puma Sports India Pvt Ltd to withdraw its case challenging copyright complaints against it. Puma had filed a petition against the Order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which Court had refused to quash criminal complaint against it for copyright infringement.

The complaint had been filed by the Phonographic Performance Limited who claimed ownership over the sound recordings which were allegedly being played in a Puma Store in Chandigarh without obtaining a license from them.

Emily Ratajkowski sued by photographer for posting his photo on Instagram

Photographer Edward Opinalodo has filed a seven page complaint against Emily Ratajkowski, a model and actor. The said model has been accused of posting a picture of herself on her Instagram account without the permission of the photographer. The post has been deleted after the accusations were made.

Delhi High Court: Distinctive elements in advertising campaigns can be protected under intellectual property laws (– Bright Lifecare Pvt Ltd vs Vini Cosmetics Pvt Ltd. & Anr)

The court held that the threshold for establishing distinctiveness would be quite high and unless and until there is enormous distinctiveness and likelihood of confusion or deception, the court would not grant injunction against a rival campaign because it may stultify creativity.

After considering the screenshots and viewing both advertisements, the court held that the two commercials are likely to give an ordinary viewer the impression that they are connected or emanating from the same source. The court further held that the similarity in theme and expression is quite prominent and palpable. The court directed Vini to pull down the two commercials from YouTube and other platforms.

It also clarified there is no restraint on Vini from using the words or expression ‘Zidd’ or ‘Ziddi’ in a manner which is not similar or identical to Bright’s and they are free to modify their ads to remove the objectionable frames and then re-launch them.

Company booked under Copyright Act for using Disney characters in birthday products

Maharashtra Police booked two persons and a company located in Thane district for allegedly violating the Copyright Act by using Disney characters in birthday materials without permission. The case was registered based on a complaint lodged by an official of Disney Enterprises. The police conducted raids at godowns of the accused and seized materials worth over ₹1.81 lakh.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi in trouble for copyright infringement

An activist had called for action against Rahul Gandhi for a tweet that he posted which also had an attached video. The activist said that “I registered a complaint under Indian copyright and rules of Karnataka HC and as per it no one can share the video of HC without the permission of the HC and he used it”. The complaint is filed for tweeting the visuals of a hearing before the Karnataka High Court. Read more: here.

Copyright infringement case filed against Indian National Congress

A Bangalore based record label, MRT Music, holding rights over 20,000+ tracks in Kannada, Hindi, Telegu and Tamil etc has filed case against Indian National Congress for using their registered song during Rahul Gandhi’s campaign “Bharat Jodo Yatra”. The song used was of the movie KGF-Chapter 2.

The complaint has been filed under Sections 425, 463, 464, 465, 471, 120B r/w Section 34 of the IPC and Section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under Section 64. Copyrights Act, 1957.

Delhi Court says that there is no copyright in teachings of Quran while dismissing a copyright infringement suit

The Islamic Book Service (P) Ltd. filed a copyright infringement suit before the Delhi High Court over the publication of a book titled ‘Islamic Studies’. The Court while dismissing the infringement suit filed by the plaintiff held that there cannot be any copyrights on word Islam or Studies. The Court further said that the plaintiff has miserably failed to prove that it had any copyright over the book ‘Islamic Studies’. It also failed to show that the defendant committed any infringement of copyright.

Delhi High Court – NOC of Trademark Office mandatory for claiming copyright registration of artistic work

Single Judge Bench of Delhi High Court headed by Justice Prathiba Singh observed that for a person to obtain copyright registration of an artistic work, being used or capable of being used in respect of any goods and services, a no objection certificate (NOC) from the trademark office is mandatory under proviso of Section 45(1) of Copyright Act, 1957. The said proviso states that an application for entering the particulars of a copyright work in the Register of Copyrights shall be accompanied by a certificate from the Registrar of Trademarks to the effect that no trade mark identical with or deceptively similar to such artistic work has been registered or that no application has been made for such registration.

Order dated September 07, 2022 can be accessed here.

Supreme Court issues notice in a plea seeking directions to preserve the copyright over live streaming of Court hearings

The petitioner’s counsel contented out that the copyright of live-streaming of Court hearings should be retained by the Court and could not be surrendered to private platforms such as YouTube. The applicaiton further sought prevention of usage of live-stream footage for commercial purposes.

The petition sought that the live-streaming should be done strictly in accordance with the judgement in Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) &Ors. v. Secretary General &Ors., (2018).

Delhi High Court restrains ex-hockey coach from publishing confidential information about players in the book

The Delhi High Court restrained former Indian women’s hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne and publisher HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt Ltd.  from publishing or disclosing confidential information about players in his book, Will Power: The Inside Story of the Incredible Turnaround in Indian Women’s Hockey. The Court held that Marijne has breached confidentiality clause in the Hockey India code of conduct and sanctions by seeking to publish certain confidential information in the book.

The Delhi High Court has denied the Founder of Sci-application Hub’s to withdraw admission while accepting the copyright ownership of publishers.

The Delhi High Court denied Alexandra Elbakyan’s motion to retract her previous admission acknowledging ownership of the publisher’s copyright in the claimed works. This was in context of amendment to its written statement. The application for rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC is set to be listed in February. 

After a motion to dismiss was granted, the copyright case for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ continues.

According to Variety, the lawsuit against Top Gun: Maverick, the highest-grossing film of 2022, will proceed after a court denied Paramount’s bid to dismiss the case on Thursday, November 10, 2022. The complaint was launched in June by the widow and son of author Ehud Yonay, who claimed that the studio neglected to renew the rights to the article on the Navy Fighter Weapons School. The studio stated that the rights were not required because the sequel had no resemblance to the original and facts about the institution are not covered by copyright. However, US District Judge Percy Anderson determined that there are strong parallels between the photograph and the 1983 magazine article.

Netflix, producers of ‘Tiger King’ sued for unauthorized use of clips of ‘Ace Ventura 2’

Morgan Creek Productions had sued Netflix and the producers of ‘Tiger King’ for unauthorized use of clips of ‘Ace Ventura 2’ in the hit show, Tiger King. The show is focused on the life of Joseph Maldonado Passage, known as ‘Joe Exotic’ who is the owner of a ‘big cat’ zoo. The infringement lawsuit filed by the Morgan Creek Production alleged that the show featured two clips from the Jim Carrey starrer ‘Ace Ventura 2’ without the permission.

Google wins legal battle over song lyrics copyright against lyrics platform Genius

Google has won a legal battle against song lyrics platform Genius that claimed that the tech giant used its transcribed lyrics without permission in search results. A three-judge panel affirmed the earlier decision, saying that the lyrics are protected by copyrights that Genius doesn’t own. Genius had sued Google in 2019, arguing that Google was scraping lyrics from its website in violation of Genius’ copyright.

Dua Lipa faces second copyright lawsuit over hit song Levitating

Dua Lipa is facing a second copyright lawsuit over her song Levitating, less than a week after a Florida reggae band sued the singer for alleged plagiarism.  Songwriters L Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer allege that the opening melody to the hit single, the longest-running Top 10 song ever by a female artist on the US Billboard Hot 100, is a “duplicate” of the melody to their 1979 song Wiggle and Giggle All Night and their 1980 song Don Diablo.

Canadian Artists May Soon Receive Royalties When Their Work Is Resold

Canadian politicians are drafting legislation that would amend the country’s copyright law to grant artists royalties when their work is resold.

“It is particularly beneficial for indigenous and senior artists, aligns Canada with many of our international trade partners, and it is one of many ways the federal government can help visual artists recover from the pandemic and prosper for years to come.”

The Canadian Artists Representation noted that more than 90 countries including Australia, Britain, Mexico and all members of the European Union have similar royalties for the resale of work, including India.

Disney Copyright targeted by the new Florida Copyright Law

The Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022 limits copyright protection to 56 years and provides for retroactive applicability to existing copyrights. This law can lead to stripping Disney off of its copyright over “Mickey Mouse”. This move comes after the suspension of political donations by Disney. Several Republican lawmakers clarified that they won’t support an extension of copyright protections for Disney if a bill is introduced.

Lewis Black sues Pandora for $10 million over copyright infringement

Comedian Lewis Black filed suit against SiriusXM-owned audio streamer Pandora, arguing that the company ran recordings of his performances without obtaining the copyright to his written work. This suit, along with several others filed against Pandora, seeks back pay for millions of dollars worth of publishing royalties and to fundamentally change the way copyright for comedy functions.

Photographer sues tattoo artist over copyright infringement

Von D, whose legal name is Katherine Von Drachenberg tattooed a likeness of an iconic photograph of jazz great Miles Davis onto a person. In 2021, the man who took the photograph, Jeffrey Sedlik, filed suit against Von D for copyright infringement, “Essentially he’s saying that the tattoo is substantially similar to his photograph of Miles Davis and therefore Kat Von D has committed copyright infringement,” said Aaron Moss, a copyright attorney in California.

Mariah Carey Sued For Copyright Over “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

The complainant, a musician named Andy Stone, says he co-wrote and recorded a festive song of the same name in 1989 and never gave permission for it to be used.

In the suit filed in Louisiana, Stone alleges that Carey and her co-writer Walter Afanasieff “knowingly, willfully, and intentionally engaged in a campaign to infringe” his copyright.

He is seeking damages of $20 million for alleged financial loss.

YouTuber Pulls Nintendo Soundtracks After Receiving Over 500 Copyright Claims

DeoxysPrime runs a YouTube account with 165,000 subscribers, that is home to all kinds of video game soundtracks. But now they have removed the entire library of Nintendo music after having “a dozen soundtracks blocked,” while receiving over 500 copyright claims from the trigger-happy company.

They weren’t hosting uploads of commercially-available albums; rather, like the rest of their channel (which we’ve featured on the site before!), they had uploaded the complete soundtracks to titles like Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, taken directly from the games themselves.

Ed Sheeran Awarded Over $1.1 Million in Legal Fees in ‘Shape of You’ Copyright Case

Recently, Chokri and his co-writer Ross O’Donoghue who sued Sheeran, McDaid and Mac for copyright infringement over alleged similarities between the two songs, have been ordered to pay over $1.1 million in legal fees. Although Ad Sheeran had won the case in England in 2017, and then, in 2018, “the Shape of You” writers launched legal proceedings to declare they had not infringed on the copyright.

Read more: (here)

Producers of Michael Bisping documentary hit with copyright lawsuit from UFC

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Michael Bisping was honoured with his own documentary to commemorate his incredible journey through the world of mixed martial arts (MMA). The makers of the documentary have been accused of copyright infringement by the UFC attorneys.

The UFC attorneys reported that Score G Productions, named as primary defendant, never bothered to contact the promotion about content licensing. That means any of the footage from Bisping’s UFC fights was used without permission and could be subject to removal and/or compensatory damages.

UFC claims the Bisping documentary borrows “substantial portions of the UFC’s most famous fights,” including footage of Conor McGregor’s knockout victory over then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo. To allow such exceptions under the “fair use” act, attorneys argue, would set a precedent permitting any future documentary to serve as an excuse to rebroadcast UFC fights without authorization.

US Internet service provider Bright House has reached settlement at the very last minute in ISP copyright litigation

Bright House, a US internet service provider has reached a settlement at the very last minute with the major record companies resulting in halt of the latest court battle set to test the responsibilities and liabilities of net firms when it comes to policing piracy online. The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the litigation cannot be revived in future.

Photographer files copyright infringement suit against Miley Cyrus

A paparazzi photographer, Robert Barbera, has filed a copyright infringement suit against Miley Cyrus, claiming that she reposted his 2020 photo. The image was shared with her 180 million followers without the permission from Barbera, who had registered the photo with the U.S. Copyright Office on April 11 but didn’t notice Cyrus posting it till a month later. He further claimed that the photo led to “increased traffic” to Cyrus’ account and caused an increase in her revenues generated through the sale of her music or associated business partnership.

YouTube removes 2,000 animated videos for copyright infringement

Nearly 2,000 Wolfoo videos about the animated wolf and his family have been removed by YouTube for copyright violation, causing losses of around US$2 million for their Vietnamese producer.

Sconnect said YouTube removed the videos following a demand by the UK’s Entertainment One, the producer of Peppa Pig, an animated series about a pig and his family.

Meta: automating removing infringement

The new Intellectual Property (IP) Reporting application programming interface (API) integrates with Meta’s existing Graph API, which is the primary way for apps to read and write to the Facebook social graph.

This integration allows authorized API users to more effectively fill out the same fields that exist in the IP reporting forms in a secure and streamlined way, bringing more efficiency to this process by allowing users to report content at scale.

Ed Sheeran To Face $100 Million Copyright Trial Over ‘Thinking Out Loud’: Report

Ed Sheeran will be facing a jury over his $100 million copyright case surrounding the 2014 hit track Thinking Out Loud. A federal judge in Manhattan has cleared the way for further legal proceedings against the singer-songwriter, who is alleged to have copied Marvin Gaye’s 1973 classic Let’s Get It On to write his own track.

According to the publication, the judge wrote, “There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work,” and added,” “A work may be copyrightable even though it is entirely a compilation of unprotectable elements.”

The claim over Thinking Out Loud was originally filed in 2018 by investment banker David Pullman and his company called Structured Asset Sales. They alleged that the singer, as well as his co-writer Amy Wadge, had “copied and exploited, without authorisation or credit” Marvin’s track, “including but not limited to the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping.

POLICY ISSUES

Broadcasters have urged TRAI to not impose market-share related restrictions on Cable TV.

Stakeholders in the broadcasting sector including broadcasters, DTH operators, Multi System Operators, and Local Cable Operators have urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to not impose market-share related restrictions on Cable TV as there is adequate competition present in the market of Cable TV and TV distribution.

The stakeholders have submitted to TRAI that instead of imposing market-share related restrictions on market of Cable TV, it should adopt light-touch regulation to deal with the issue of market dominance in the sector of Cable TV. The reason being that there is cut-throat competition in the sector among various service providers. (here)

 

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asks TV channels to comply with the provisions of the Child Labour Act

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, earlier issued an advisory asking all private satellite TV channels to comply with the provisions of the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016 and Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Rules, 1998 on the involvement of children in advertisements, serials, films or any other entertainment subject. The said statutes prohibits the employment of children in any occupation or process. (Here)

 

PCI Asks I&B Minister to Expedite Process of Renewing Media Accreditation Cards

Terming the inordinate delay in the annual renewal of the accreditation cards issued by the Press Information Bureau to journalists as “an overt or covert effort to prevent media persons from being kept informed of the government’s viewpoints on news emanating from ministries”, the Press Club of India (PCI) urged the Union government to expedite the process and to extend the validity of cards that expired on December 31, 2021 by a year to provide immediate relief.

 

In a letter to Union minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur, the PCI president Umakant Lakhera and secretary-general Vinay Kumar wrote that it was “perplexing” that the media had not been “officially informed of any specific reason for the delay or impediment in the process” of renewal of PIB cards. Stating that the move has “caused misgivings”, the letter said, “it is felt that this move is heedlessly and needlessly aimed at suppressing coverage of news and views gathering, controlling freedom of press and putting undue pressure on correspondents and photographers.” (Here)

 

Broadcasters challenge TRAI letter asking broadcasters to provide a detailed architecture indicating which media is being used to deliver linear content to their own as well as third-party streaming platforms.

Star India has joined Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and Sun TV Network to challenge the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) letter asking broadcasters to provide a detailed architecture indicating which media is being used to deliver linear content to their own as well as third-party streaming platforms. The broadcasters have challenged the TRAI’s letter in Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). TDSAT has already directed the TRAI not to take coercive steps against broadcasters for not furnishing information related to the mode of retransmission of linear channels on over the top (OTT) platforms. (Here)

 

WTO urged members to create deals for IPR waiver on COVID related vaccines, etc.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has urged its members to pace the efforts to reach a multilateral deal on waiver of intellectual property rights on vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics related to COVID-19 virus. This step has been proposed by India to ensure a complete participation and contribution of all nations to the fight against the virus. India has proposed for a virtual ministerial conference to discuss about the waiver of relevant IPR protections. Once the waiver is done, other countries can easily create generic versions, thereby, reducing cost and research & development expenses. (Here)

 

SEBI cracks a new scam on social media

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has barred 6 people from trading in securities market who were indulged in fraudulent and unfair trade practices by making baseless stock recommendations through groups on WhatsApp and Telegram. After receiving complaints, SEBI initiated investigation in 2021 regarding people who are not registered with SEBI but acting as an Intermediary by using social media platforms to artificially influence the stock prices. (Here)

 

Zee Tamil issued show cause notice by Information & Broadcast Ministry

The BJP unit of Tamil Nadu has raised a complaint with Zee Tamil over the telecast of a children’s show which showcased satirical remarks over the policies and reforms executed by the Prime Minister. The complaint remarked the comments made in the reality show as ‘obnoxious’ and wanted it to be taken off-air. The television programme presented a skit drawing a parallel between a king who lived a luxurious life despite the crisis and famine in his country to the policy reforms brought in under the tenure of the PM such as demonetization and disinvestment. As per the procedure laid in the grievance redressal mechanism, the complaint was sent to the channel and the I&B Ministry. (Here)

 

Government mandates storage of ISD, satphone, conference calls and other details for two years

The telecom department issued a circular on January 27, 2022 which mandates storage of international calls, satphone, conference calls and messages for a period of at least two years. the circular dated January 27 for voice mail, audiotex and unified messaging service license said “The licensee shall maintain all commercial records, call data record, exchange detail record, IP detail record with regard to the communications exchanged on the network. Such records shall be archived for at least two years for scrutiny by the licensor for security reasons and may be destroyed thereafter unless directed otherwise directed by the licensor.” (Here)

 

IAMAI: I&B Sought Media Compliance with IT Rules Even After HC Issued Stay

The Internet Freedom Foundation through a Right to Information request found that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting sought information from publishers even after high court orders stayed the operation of a particular rule of the new IT Rules. It was responded to by over 2,000 publishers, though it did not reveal how many of them replied after the high court stays. In orders issued on August 14, 2021, and September 16, 2021, respectively, the Bombay and Madras high courts stayed two sub-rules of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

 

I&B Ministry bans MediaOne Channel, Kerala HC extends interim hold on Centre’s order barring telecast of the channel

The Union government on Jan 31 barred the telecast of Malayalam news channel MediaOne citing “security reasons”. The Kerala High Court stayed the implementation of the order for two days. The telecast of MediaOne channel was once again disallowed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, citing security reasons. (Here)

 

Encryption of channels may be made mandatory

The move will help stop the illegal broadcast of channels which don’t have the licenses for DD freedish. The government wants to ensure that only those channels who buy slots on freedish are the ones who can broadcast. MIB is likely to amend channel uplinking and downlinking rules. To prevent unauthorized receipt of signals, the proposed guidelines will mention that while the existing guideline allows a company to apply either in C or KU band, under the new proposal, uplinking can be done in the frequency band specified by the applicant. Uplinking in a band other than the C band has to be in encrypted mode. (Here)

 

Government of India bans 54 Chinese apps that pose a threat to national security

As per certain reports, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned 54 Chinese apps for posing a threat to India’s national security. This ban adds on the 224 Chinese apps that were banned by the central government in June 2020 including popular apps such as TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser, etc. The reports further clarified that these 54 apps were banned earlier as well but they rebranded themselves and relaunched under new names. (Here)

 

ASCI frames guidelines for advertising and promotion of virtual digital assets and services

On 23rd February, 2022, the Advertising Standards Council of India (“ASCI”) has issued guidelines for the advertisements of virtual digital assets and services. These guidelines shall be applicable to all advertisements released or published on or after 1st April, 2022. The advertisers shall have to ensure that even the earlier advertisements comply with these regulations post 15th April, 2022. Read the guidelines (Here)

 

We have delved into detail on this issue, see here.

 

Media and entertainment projected to be $100 billion industry by 2030

Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), said Indian media and entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing media industries in the world and is projected to reach USD 100 billion by 2030. In the coming fortnight, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting aimed to participate in various events at the India pavilion including formalising a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UAE for a mutually beneficial collaboration. (Here)

 

Film production houses must set up Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for sexual harassment cases

A Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said that apart from production houses which directly employ actors, even organisations related to the film industry have to maintain Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), if they are engaging 10 workers or more for managing the office establishments and wherein women workers are employed for wages. The Court found that even though organisations associated with the film industry were not employers of the actor artists in the film industry, the organisations have other employees which necessitates setting up an ICC. (here)

 

BARC to resume rating of news channels

The move comes two months after the government asked the agency to release the ratings following an overhaul of its systems and methodologies for the genre. As per these revised and approved standards, audience estimates for these genres will only be released based on a four-week rolling average, every week. (Here)

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting rejects IT Committee’s demand of setting up a media commission

In December 2021, the IT Committee headed by the Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had recommended setting up a media commission which would look into all aspects of “Ethical Standards in Media Coverage Report”. While rejecting the recommendation given by the IT Committee, Anurag Thakur, the minister for Information and Broadcasting said that there was no need at present to set up a media commission. (Here)

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting grants 13 new MSO licenses between January-March, 2022

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has granted 13 new licenses to Multi-System Operators (MSOs) in time of almost 3 months, between January 01, 2022 to March 21, 2022. Earlier the number of licensed MSOs were 1750, which has now increased to a total of 1763 as of March 21, 2022. (Here)

 

Plea Before Telangana High Court Against ‘The Kashmir Files’ Film Dismissed As Withdrawn

A plea moved before the Telangana High Court to challenge the release of the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been dismissed as withdrawn. The plea moved by one Mohammed Sami Ullah Qureshi claimed that the film had hurt the religious sentiments of several Muslims around the world. However, after arguing the matter at length, the counsel for the petitioner sought permission from the Court to withdraw the writ petition to pursue an alternative remedy. (Here)

 

Finance Minister proposes amendment to Financial Bills to tax crypto assets

Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to move an amendment to the Finance Bill, 2022. The said proposal is a move to clarify that no tax deduction or set off would be available in place of mining cost of crypto assets and other virtual digital assets or any losses from their transfer. This was a part of the 39 amendments proposed by the government to the Finance Bill, 2022. (Here)

 

Kerala High Court Asks Media To Refrain From Publishing Unverified/False Information

The Kerala High Court on 30th March, 2022 commented on the role of the media in the functioning of a democracy, and its responsibility to provide accurate information to its citizens while disposing of a suo motu case. The division bench was adjudicating upon a suo-motu case it had launched after coming across a news report in a Malayalam daily Kerala Kaumudi alleging that in a temple in Tripunithura, devotees were made to wash the feet of 12 brahmins for the atonement of their sins. However, upon verification, it was discovered that it was the Tantri and not the devotees who washed the feet of 12 priests as part of the religious rituals. Finding the news report to be incorrect, the Court made certain significant observations regarding the influence of media in the modern democracy. It also highlighted the sweeping influence the media has on people, and how they triggers dialogues and debates over different topics. However, in recent times, such duty hasn’t been discharged with responsibility as various reports of incorrect reporting has come to the fore. (Here)

 

Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) must issue ‘prior notice’ to account holders against whom action will be taken: Centre to Delhi HC

The development came after the Central Government through Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology filed a counter affidavit in pleas challenging action of micro-blogging platform Twitter to permanently suspend user accounts namely “wokeflix” “MeghBulletin” and others. In a similar affidavit filed in the pleas, Centre has said that the platforms must respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and should not take down the account itself or completely suspend the user account in all cases. Furthermore, Centre has submitted that if the intermediary platform falls under the Significant Social Media Intermediary (SSMI) category as defined in the IT Rules, 2021, then as per rule 4(8) the SSMI is expected to issue a prior notification to the user explaining the action being taken and the grounds or reasons for taking such action. Only in cases where the majority of the contents/posts/tweets in a user account are unlawful, the platform may take the extreme step of taking down the whole information or suspending the whole account, the Centre has said. Centre has further averred that SSMIs must be held accountable for subjugating and supplanting fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech and expression, otherwise the same would have direct consequences for any democratic nation. (Here)

 

No Call To Have Expert Witness To Testify To Use Of Identical Mark In Registered Trademark Infringement Or Passing Off Cases: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has observed that in a case of infringement of registered Trade Marks or passing off, similarity of the marks used is to be considered and that there is no call to have an expert witness to testify to the use of an identical or similar Trade Mark. Justice Asha Menon added that the emphasis is on the branding and not on the manufacture of the goods in question. It is the false branding that results in the product being counterfeit. (Here)

Delhi HC Asks Controller General To Devise Proper Mechanism For Show Cause Hearings

Observing that refusal of a trademark without even affording an opportunity of hearing to the applicant would be contrary to the fundamental tenets of natural justice, the Delhi High Court has asked the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) to devise a proper mechanism for holding show cause hearings. Noting that the Trademark Registry deals with lakhs of applications every year, Justice Pratibha M Singh opined that the utilization of a platform for virtual conference hearing wherein only three individuals are permitted to join at a time, would be grossly insufficient and an outdated mode of holding hearings. (Here)

EEMA announces single window permissions for events in India

Event & Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), the apex body for the event industry in India showcased the launch of the Single Window Clearance process for events. The launch of Single Window Permissions for Events in India will facilitate towards bringing of more global events to India. This process will ease the entire flow of conducting events in the country. In various cities, the event community faces several challenges in gathering permissions and licences for events, which in turn becomes a huge area of concern. EEMA announced of this process in accordance with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Film Facilitation Office (FFO). (Here)

 

PVR-Cinepolis India in talks for a Rs 13,600-crore merger

India’s largest multiplex chain PVR is in talks for a Rs 13,600-crore merger deal with rival Cinepolis India. As per reports, PVR promoters will own between 10% and 14%, but Ajay Bijli (CMD of PVR) will have complete management control for at least three years. Cinépolis will have board seats in the merged company. (Here)

 

I&B Ministry Approves Fifth Self-Regulatory Body Under IT Rules

As reported here, a new Self-Regulatory Body (SRB), Media9 Digital Media Foundation (MDMF), was approved by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) in January 2022, according to a notification uploaded on the ministry’s website. The body had applied for registration in October 2021, and it will now operate as a Level II SRB for publishers of news and current affairs content. (Here)

 

Govt holds consultation with film industry on proposed amendments to Cinematograph Act
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has assured the film fraternity that suitable amendments would be proposed to the Cinematograph Act 1952 to combat film piracy. Addressing a Consultation Meeting of Film Associations through video conferencing, I&B Secretary Shri Apurva Chandra said the issues with respect to proposed Cinematograph Amendment Bill and anti-piracy issues will be addressed after consultation with the stakeholders of the industry. (Here)

 

Central Government blocks 22 YouTube Channels for their ‘Anti-India content’

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has blocked 22 YouTube channels, including 18 Indian YouTube news channels and 4 Pakistan-based YouTube news channels, for allegedly spreading disinformation related to India’s national security and foreign relations. The order stated that these channels used logos of TV news channels and false thumbnails to mislead the viewers. The ban also includes 3 Twitter accounts, 1 Facebook account and 1 news website. (Here)

 

Delhi High Court asks for a mechanism from Centre for regular checks of “E-Commerce Sites” for compliance of Legal Metrology Rules

The Delhi High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation, asked the Central Government to devise a proper mechanism for conducting periodical checks of e-commerce platforms and ensure their compliance with various laws regarding display and packaging of products. The direction given by the Court is to ensure proper display of details like MRP of the product, seller details including GST number, name of manufacturer, country of origin of product, etc. on the e-commerce websites. (Here)

 

A recent advisory issued to private satellite TV channels by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to refrain from making false claims and using scandalous headlines

Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory to private TV news channels against making false claims and using scandalous headlines. The Ministry has called for adherence to the provisions of Section 20 of The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 including to  the Programme Code laid down under it after finding that in the recent past several Satellite TV channels have carried out coverage of events and incidents in a manner which appears to be unauthentic, misleading, sensational and using socially unacceptable language and remarks, offending good taste and decency, and obscene and defamatory and having communal overtones. The advisory has cited the Ukraine-Russian conflict and the incidence in North-West Delhi in particular where TV This is not the first time when it is done, earlier has done this under Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines of 2005/2011 for adherence to the Programme Code read with The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. This is done by virtue of Sub-section (2) of Section 20, which permits the Central Government to do it by order on the grounds of (i) sovereignty or integrity of India; or (ii) security of India; or (iii) friendly relations of India with any foreign State; or (iv) public order, decency or morality,”  Another pertinent provision in this regard is sub-section (3) of Section 20 of the Act which (among other things) allows the Central Government if it “considers that any programme of any channel is not in conformity with the prescribed programme code referred to in section 5 or the prescribed advertisement code referred to in section 6, it may by order, regulate or prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of such program”. (Here)

 

Facebook tells Delhi HC Article 19 cannot be invoked against them

Social media company Meta Platforms, Inc the parent organisation of Instagram and Facebook  told the Delhi High Court that the rights under Article 19 (free speech) of the Constitution of India cannot be invoked against it by a user and that it is a private entity which does not discharge a public function. In its affidavit filed, Meta contended that it is not obligated to carry out a public duty and when action is taken against a user in accordance with the private contract between them, it results in a contractual dispute between two private parties. (here)

 

IT Ministry Asked To Share Order For Blocking Website

For a very rare occasion, the The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been asked to share the order based on which it has blocked the website dowrycalculator.com in the country by the Delhi High Court. The order also provided the website’s creator a hearing by the committee constituted under the Information Technology (Procedure and safeguards for blocking of access of information by public) Rules, 2009, wherein possible corrective measures for the website could be suggested.  (Here)

 

Stop film shows in wee hours’ said the Madras High Court

A Division Bench of Madras High Court comprising Justices SM Subramaniam and J Sathya Narayana Prasad, in a case filed by V Vignesh Krishna to prevent violation of the Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulations) Act, 1955, Tamil Nadu Cinemas Rules, 1957 and the conditions of Form-C Licenses. Plaintiff claimed that special shows were screened between 1.30 am and 9 am against the permitted number of four shows a day, by collecting exorbitant amounts in defiance of rates fixed by the government. (Here) 

 

Show statutory warning lines during violent scenes in movies

A Chennai based man S Gopi Krishna approached the Madras High Court and sought an order to the authorities to make it mandatory to show statutory warning lines or words in theatres while screening violent scenes in the movies. paper and the colour water is used as blood’. (Here)

 

Union minister of information and broadcasting announces a series of schemes on foreign film shoots

The Union minister of information and broadcasting announced a series of schemes for foreign film shoots and co-productions to take place in India, while inaugurating the India Pavilion at the Cannes Film Market ‘Marche du Film’. The two schemes, Incentive Scheme for Audio-Visual Co-production and Incentive Scheme Shooting of foreign films in India are aimed at unleashing the potential of the Indian media and entertainment industry. (Here)

 

IAMAI Urges GST Council To Maintain 18% Rate On Online Gaming

Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) urged the GST Council to continue maintaining the GST on online gaming at 18 per cent. Any increase in the GST rates in this sector will be detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the industry, seriously impacting the industry’s contribution to the nation’s economy through revenue generation, livelihood creation and foreign investments.  (Here)

 

MeitY withdraws proposed changes to IT rules; Chinese funds to face more scrutiny

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) released a draft proposing changes to the year-old Information Technology Rules, 2021. The proposed changes included setting up an appeals committee to review content moderation decisions of social media companies. But the ministry withdrew the draft just hours later. In the now-withdrawn draft, the IT ministry called for the creation of one or more grievance appeals committees to evaluate complaints from aggrieved social media users. (Here)

 

‘Press freedom subverted’: NBF writes to I&B minister over BARC ‘skewing final data’ with ‘landing page’ views

The freedom of the press is being “subverted” due to the Broadcast Audience Research Council’s failure to address the issue of “landing pages” being included in viewership data, according to a June 1 letter from the News Broadcasters Federation to I&B minister Anurag Thakur. The letter flagged five issues: that landing pages are a “restrictive trade practice”; they can be “bought at a price” to “artificially amplify” viewership data of some channels; the practice counters the government’s efforts to “democratise” the news media; and it subverts the freedom the press through the “validation of monopolistic practices”. (Here)

 

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. (Here).

 

India demands IPR waiver on Covid vaccine at WTO’s 12th ministerial conference

At the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference held at New Delhi, India cautioned the developed world that any global deal on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic would be incomplete without a waiver on intellectual property rights for vaccines and other products. Apart from India, other 64 developing member countries want TRIPS waiver to be a part of the response to the virus. (Here)

 

NBDSA echoes media trial not permissible in law

The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) directed Zee News, Zee Hindustan, India TV, AajTak and News18 to take down certain shows/videos being broadcast by them in 2020 which misreported and misrepresented facts pertaining to UAPA accused Umar Khalid. NBDSA, self-regulatory body of private TV channels being headed by Supreme Court judge A. K. Sikri, in its order mentioned that the news channels had used sensationalized taglines holding Khalid guilty in connection with Delhi riots case. (Here)

 

NCPCR issues draft guidelines for the protection of child artists in the entertainment industry

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued draft guidelines stating that no minor should work for more than 27 consecutive days and 20 per cent of the child’s income need to be deposited in a fixed deposit account. The draft covers television programmes, including reality shows, TV serials, news and informative media, movies, content on OTT platforms and social media, performing arts, advertising or any other kind of involvement of children in commercial entertainment activities. (Here)

Media has a right to report on registration of FIRs, arrest of persons, filing of cases in courts: Bombay High Court

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in Vijay Darda & Anr. v. Ravindra Gupta, held that the media has the right to report on the registration of first information reports (FIRs) and on cases filed in courts and defamation action cannot lie on the basis of such reports. Justice Vinay Joshi quashed the defamation case against the owners of a daily newspaper and noted that “It is common knowledge that in daily newspapers at least some space is devoted to the news about the registration of crimes, filing of cases in Courts, the progress of the investigation, arrest of persons, etc. It constitutes news events which public has the right to know,” (Here)

 

Reports of government resurrecting section 66A of the IT Act through UN Convention route alarming

The Supreme Court had struck down Section 66A on March 24, 2015. Section 66A was introduced in 2008 and was widely misused by law enforcement agencies. There was a glaring ambiguity in terms such as “offensive” and “menacing in character”. These gave the agencies extraordinary powers to lodge cases and arrest anyone. The Supreme Court had termed Section 66A “unconstitutionally vague”, and “struck down in its entirety for violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2)”. Reports are that India has forwarded its own “criminalisation of offensive messages” protocol to the UN, and has retained language of Section 66A. The very same language that was used to haul up anti-government activists, including cartoonists and students. (Here)

 

I&B ministry warns FM channels not to violate public interest announcement norms

As per an agreement signed by the FM radio broadcasting channels they are required to broadcast public interest announcements as may be required by central or state governments for a maximum of one hour per day at suitable time slots interspersed during that day. The information and broadcasting ministry has warned FM radio stations of penalties if they violate the terms of the agreement to broadcast public interest announcements for a maximum of one hour per day. (Here)

 

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting proposes bill to regulate digital media outlets

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has decided to propose the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2022 to regulate digital media outlets, making them liable for violations that apply to print media. The ministry has decided to list the bill for the upcoming monsoon session.

Currently, the digital media is not regulated by the I&B Ministry but are allowed to voluntarily register with the ministry as per the IT Rules, 2021. The proposed bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. (Here)

 

Delhi HC refuses to interfere with penalty on media house for showing animal cruelty without warning

The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with a “penalty of warning” imposed by the Centre on a media house showing animal cruelty without warning or blurring the clip, saying it hoped that a professional broadcaster would bear in mind the minimum precautions to be taken when showing distressing content. Justice Yashwant Varma in the present case said that the court did not intend to deprecate the act of bringing the incident to the notice of the viewers and highlighting the issue of cruelty towards animals but in the present case, it was undisputed that the visual clips were neither blurred nor were the viewers forewarned to exercise discretion while watching the “barbaric action” on display along with the animal’s pain. (Here)

 

Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, 2018 Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was of the view that it cannot be said that there is any lack of clarity or ambiguity in sec. 19 of the 2018 Amending Act which categorically states that its provisions will apply to cases relating to commercial disputes filed on or after the date of commencement of the Act, i.e. May 3, 2018. The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division Act, 2015 was enacted by the Legislature under which all suits over a sum of Rs.1 Crore were to be transferred from Ordinary Courts to the designated Commercial Courts. The said Act was amended in the year 2018 in which all suits relating to a commercial dispute over a sum of Rs.3 lakhs filed on or before the institution of the Amending Act, 2018, were to be transferred to the designated Commercial Courts. The Petitioners thus approached High Court seeking transfer of the Civil Suits which were pending before Additional District Judge, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, to the designated Commercial Court on the ground that the suits were commercial in nature and pertain to “commercial disputes” as defined under the 2015 Act. The Court noted that a basic principle of jurisprudence is that statutes must have a prospective effect on the ground and that a retrospective application of the same threatens to disturb matters that have already been settled, and therefore, undermine and invade contractual and personal relationships existing under the law that has already been in operation.

 

This order of the Division bench could have a wide impact to various IPR disputes pending for adjudication before the Commercial Judges and Transfer in advent of the recent judgement in Vishal Pipes Ltd. vs. Bhavya Pipes Industry wherein it was held that all pending IPR suits before the different District Judges (non-Commercial) in Delhi shall be placed before the concerned District Judges (Commercial) for following the procedure of valuation. (Here)

 

Interception of WhatsApp calls on House panel radar

One of the points of discussion in the recent discussion of the Parliamentary panel on information technology was whether calls made via WhatsApp, supposedly called “end-to-end encrypted”, can be intercepted and covered under the Telegraph Act”. Currently, “the government has not provided any response so far and said it will respond later,” one anonymous person involved therein said. This can be problematic, as the panel also sought to know, if such (social media) platforms are planned to be brought under the Telegraph Act by the government. (Here)

 

Kerala High Court says that the conditions set by CBFC for theatrical release should be complied for OTT release as well

The Kerala High Court while considering a plea challenging the release of an un-altered version of the movie, Kaduva on OTT platforms which was otherwise released in theatres with an altered version said that the conditions set out by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for the theatrical release of a film, should also be complied with when the film is streamed on Over-the-Top Platforms. The Court further said that even when the OTT rights are sold of a movie and the CBFC had issued directions, then also compliance with the said directions should be made. (Here)

 

Centre withdraws Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

The Centre withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha. Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnav passed a motion in the Lok Sabha to withdraw the said Bill. The motion was passed with a voice-vote and the bill was consequently withdrawn. Ashwini Vaishnav further said that keeping in mind the amendments a new legislation shall be introduced that will fit into the comprehensive legal framework. (Here)

 

Jurist May Head Social Media Self-Regulatory Committee

Social media intermediaries are proposing a 7 member self-regulatory committee led either by an eminent jurist or industry senior to handle appeals by Indian users over content and takedown directives. The proposed committee will take up appeals by users with regard to ‘removal or reinstatement of user accounts or information, data, or communication links uploaded by users, for violating signatory’s policies’. (Here)

 

TRAI seeks industry’s views on system requirements for DRM-based IPTV networks

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) came up with a consultation paper on proposed amendments to the interconnection regulations 2017. It has amended the regulation to include system requirements for Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM refers to the management of the encryption systems for providing the functionality of conditional access system (CAS) and subscriber management system (SMS) for the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service providers. (Here)

 

Government To Introduce Framework To Regulate Social Media Platforms

The Central Government on 7th September has apprised the Delhi High Court that it will introduce some mechanism to regulate the social media platforms but it will not cover the existing cases including account suspension by the platforms. The counsel for Central Government made this statement during hearing the batch of petitions against the suspension of social media accounts of users by the social media platforms. Advocate Kirtiman Singh appearing on behalf of the Centre told the bench, “We have checked up in terms of your lordship’s last order. The amendment will take place at some point of time, we don’t really know (when). It will be a prospective change and will not cover the existing cases, they will perhaps have to decide as per the existing scheme” The court said that “Before entering into judgement, we also want to understand if there is any regulatory mechanism that they are proposing to implement, and whether that would have any impact on this batch.” In view of the above, the court allowed the Central Government to appraise the court over the issue and has listed the matter for further hearing on December 19, 2022. The court observed, ” If the scope of the regulatory power that you propose to invoke is known we will know what the contours of our jurisdiction area.” (Here)

 

Delhi High Court directs Domain Name Registrars to appoint Grievance Officers under IT Rules 2021

Delhi High Court directed various domain name registrars (DNRs) to appoint grievance officers in compliance of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 within a period of one week. The Court further stated that failure by DNRs to comply with this direction would lead to Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to proceed against such DNRs as per law who have been offering domain name registration, hosting and related services in India, without complying with the local laws. (Here)

 

The Draft Telecommunications Bill, 2022 released by Government to seek public comments

The Government released the draft Telecommunications Bill, 2022  which sought to replace three laws: the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950. The Bill included internet-based and OTT communication services such as WhatsApp calls, Facetime, under telecommunication services. The Bill further aimed to  dilute some crucial powers and responsibilities of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on issuing new licenses to service providers. (Here)

 

Single-window clearance likely for theatres in upcoming model policy

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is working on a model theatre policy, in consultation with all state governments, to roll out a pan-India, single-window clearance system, to help revive the sector, ravaged by the covid-led disruptions. According to government data, since 2017, screen count has come down from 12,000 to 8,000. The downward trend was more pronounced during the two years of the pandemic. (Here)

 

Digital media not part of new press bill yet: I & B Minister

The government has not yet decided to include digital media under the upcoming draft legislation on the press and periodicals, information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said. The central government has been working on the bill since 2019 to update a colonial era law overseeing the registration of newspapers and periodicals. The Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill was first introduced in 2019. The Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill, 2022, was listed during the monsoon session of Parliament, but was not tabled. The new bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867. There are close to 140,000 newspapers and periodicals registered under the existing law, the minister said. Registration is important/mandatory because grants a legal status to the paper and sets out a series rules and conditions that it must conform to or face penalties. The major focus of the new bill will be on increasing the ease of doing business and decriminalisation of earlier provisions, Thakur said. As far as online news media was concerned, it is covered under the new intermediary and digital media guidelines introduced by the government in February last year. The guidelines require platforms to appoint grievance redressal officers in case of over-the-top platforms and digital news media platforms, and institute a three-tier mechanism for grievance redressal, at the company and industry levels with an inter ministerial committee at its apex. It gives the information and broadcasting ministry takedown powers over the content circulated online. (Here)

 

Delhi High Court stays TDSAT order asking broadcasters to furnish information for OTT content

The Delhi High Court on 28th September, 2022 stayed an order passed by the TDSAT, directing broadcasters to furnish information on content made available on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. The matter was significant since it pertained to the jurisdiction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that regulates both the telecom and broadcasting sectors. “Prima facie, the court found itself unable to sustain the order of September 20 by TDSAT,” said the order dated September 28 by Delhi HC. The court also noted that the issue of applicability of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to OTT platforms and the regulation of those platforms are a matter pending consideration before the Supreme Court and therefore this matter would require consideration. However, the September 20 order by TDSAT was based on a directive given by Trai to television (TV) networks to submit details on content made available on their own OTT platforms, as well as third-party applications. (Here)

 

Plea for pre-screening of content on OTT before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, while hearing a plea filed by Mirzapur resident Sujeet Kumar Singh for setting up a pre-screening committee for web series, films and other programmes that are directly released on online platforms noted “How can there be a pre-screening committee for web series? There is a particular legislation. Unless you say OTT (over-the-top) is also a part of it… you must say that existing legislation must apply to OTT. Various questions will arise because transmission occurs from other countries.” In a society where censorship is becoming (or has become) a norm, “what kid of implications it will have on creative cultures” is a question worth pondering again. (Here)

We have covered the issue earlier, see here.

 

CBFC directed mandatory carrying of film certification in film advertisements

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), directed film producers to mandatorily carry the category of certificate granted (such as ‘U/A’, ‘A’ or ‘S’) to a film in all advertisements after the date of certification. (Here)

 

With IT Rules Amendment, Centre To Constitute Appellate Committee For Grievances Against Social Media Intermediaries

As per the amendment, Centre should notify a Grievance Appellate Committee to deal with appeals against decisions of Grievance Officers of social media intermediaries. “Each Grievance Appellate Committee shall consist of a chairperson and two whole time members appointed by the Central Government, of which one shall be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members.”

Now, users can challenge the decision of the Grievance Officer of the social media intermediaries regarding whether it would take down the concerned content or not before the GAC. The users have to prefer an appeal within 30 days from the date of receipt of the decision of the Grievance Officer. The GAC is expected to decide the appeal within a period of 30 days. While deciding the appeal the GAC has the authority to seek assistance from experts. The social media intermediary is to abide by the order of the GAC and in compliance should upload a report to that effect on its website. (here)

 

TRAI seeks TV industry’s views on system requirements for DRM-based IPTV networks

The TRAI suggested that the IPTV service provider has to retransmit linear channels over a closed network to set-top boxes (STBs) within the premises of subscriber. It clarified that IPTV must not include any electronic delivery for receipt and viewing via the Internet/OTT. It also stated that the IPTV linear services should not be available on Internet/public networks. TRAI has also suggested the certain permissible data mismatch between DRM and SMS. Further, the data between the DRM and SMS must be reconciled on a monthly basis. The reconciliation report will have to be stored along with the system data for a minimum of two years or at least two audit cycles, or as per Schedule III whichever is later. (Here)

 

Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Satellite Television Channels in India, 2022 has been approved by the Cabinet

Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Satellite Television Channels in India, 2022 were approved by the Union Cabinet. The objective of the said guidelines was to ease issue of permission to LLPs and companies registered in India for Uplinking and Downlinking of TV Channels, use of Digital Satellite News Gathering, setting up of Teleports/Teleport Hub, temporary uplinking of a live event among various other things. (Here)

 

Digital Personal Data Protection Bill Proposes To Amend RTI Act To Completely Bar Disclosure Of Personal Information

The draft of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill was released by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on November 18 for public comments. Clause 30(2) of the draft proposes an amendment to Section 8(j) of the RTI Act, which will have the effect of totally exempting personal information from disclosure. Section 8(j) of the RTI Act states that information which relates to personal information will be exempted from RTI Act, if its disclosure has no relationship to any public activity or interest or if it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. However, Public Information Officer can direct the disclosure of such personal information if the authority is satisfied that “the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information”. Also, there is a proviso to Section 8(j) which says that personal information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or the State Legislature cannot be denied to an RTI applicant.

 

Now, the draft Digital Personal Data Protection bill proposes to completely take away limitations on the restrictions to disclose personal information and also to remove the powers of the Public Information Officers to allow disclosure of such information on the ground of larger public interest. Also, the proviso to Section 8(j) is also proposed to be taken away. (Here)

 

Information, Broadcasting Ministry issues Guidelines for platform services offered by multi-system operators

 

The Union ministry of information and broadcasting on November 30 updated the guidelines that permit multi-system operators (MSOs) to transmit local content, seeking a one-time registration fee of ₹1,000 per Platform Service Channel. These Guidelines provide the definition for the ‘platform services’ and lay down the norms for the multi-system operators, MSOs in running the platform services. The guidelines added that only entities registered as ‘Companies’ are allowed to provide local news and current affairs. MSOs that are not registered as ‘company’ and want to provide local news and current affairs are mandatorily required to apply within three months with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to convert into ‘company’. It has also capped the permitted PS channels per operator at 5% of the total channel carriage capacity. To cater to the need of the local language and culture of the subscribers, this cap on PS channels shall be computed at the level of State/Union Territory. Also, additionally, 2 PS channels shall be permitted at the level of each District to cater to the need of local content at the District level,” the ministry said. The channels are also required to carry a caption as ‘Platform Services’ to distinguish them from the registered TV channels. “The Content of the PS to be exclusive to the platform and is not to be shared directly or indirectly with any other Distribution Platform Operator. However, sharing of live feeds from the religious places like Temples, Gurudwaras etc. shall be permitted,” the ministry said. (Here)

 

Centre directs FM radio channels not to play songs glorifying liquor, drugs, weapons, gangsters and gun culture.

 

The Centre cautioned FM channels against playing songs or broadcasting content glorifying alcohol, drugs, weaponry, gangster or gun culture. The Ministry asserted broadcast of such songs or content is in violation of the All India Radio Programme Code and the Central government has the right to impose restrictions up to suspension of permission and prohibition of broadcast. Earlier, Punjab and Haryana High Court also took note note that such content affected children of impressionable age and gave rise to gun culture and had banned the broadcast of songs containing such objectionable content. (Here)

DEFAMATION

Javed Akhtar Seeks Dismissal Of Defamation Suit Over RSS-Taliban Remark; Says Defamation Can’t Be Against ‘Unidentifiable Class’

Lyricist Javed Akhtar has sought dismissal of the defamation suit filed by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, accusing him of comparing RSS and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) with the Taliban during a television interview.

Akhtar filed the applications under Order 7 Rule 11 of Civil Procedure Code in RSS worker Vivek Champanerkar’s suit.

According to Akhtar’s application the plaint should be dismissed as Champanerkar neither has the locus or cause of action in his favour for the suit to be maintainable.

“It is settled position of law that when the alleged defamation is made towards an un-identifiable class of persons, then it does not amount to defamation at all. (G Narsimhan vs TV Chokkappa),” the application states.

Moreover, assuming the remarks were against a particular class of people, the plaint should have been filed by them and not the complainant in his individual capacity, it is contended.

Salman Khan files a suit for defamation against NRI who blamed him for unsuccessful land transaction

After a failed attempt to purchase the land adjacent to Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s Panvel farmhouse, Ketan Kakkad, a Non-Residential Indian allegedly made derogatory remarks against the actor and his family. As a consequence of which, Salman Khan filed a defamation suit before the City Civil Court, Mumbai.

Khan has also filed an application for interim relief and moved an application for urgent relief seeking blocking/suspending/withdrawing of the social media accounts of Kakkad. The plea claims that Kakkad’s transaction was cancelled by the authorities on the ground of its illegality.

After the cancellation of transaction, Kakkad raised false and baseless accusations against Khan and his family and alleged false play on the part of the actor for the cancellation of the transaction.

Delhi High Court restrains other Historians from publishing defamatory material against Dr. Vikram Sampath

In the defamation suit filed by historian, Dr. Vikram Sampath, the Delhi High Court has restrained Dr. Audrey Truschke and others from publishing any defamatory material against Dr. Sampath on Twitter and other online and offline platforms.

The defendants are further restrained from publishing the letter dated February 11 addressed to Royal Historical Society, London wherein allegations of plagiarism were raised against Dr. Sampath. Dr. Sampath has been accused of plagiarism regarding a journal publication and his two-volume biography of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Telangana Court directs The Wire to take down 14 articles against COVAXIN and Bharat Biotech

A Court in Telangana directed the news portal, The Wire to take down fourteen articles against COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, Bharat Biotech International Limited which were published on its website in a Rs. 100 crore defamation suit. The Court further restrained The Wire to publish any defamatory articles on the vaccine manufacturer and its vaccine, COVAXIN.

The Savoy Hotel v. Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd: Rupa Publications withdraws the book “The Mussoorie Murders” following suit filed by the hotel “The Savoy” alleging defamation

Rupa Publications has withdrawn its yet-to-be-released book ‘The Mussoorie Murders’ after ITC Group’s famous and historic hotel ‘The Savoy’ approached
Delhi High Court with a suit seeking permanent and mandatory injunction against it.
The hotel had also got an FIR registered against the publisher alleging that the book contained defamatory content against it. The book makes mention of “fictional murder stories” at the hotel and also uses a picture of the hotel’s facade on its cover, as per the complaint made to the police.

 

HURTING RELIGIOUS AND OTHER SENTIMENT/ CONTENT REGULATION

PIL Filed Against SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ At Telangana High Court

A Public Interest Petition (PIL) was filed by Alluri Soumya a student hailing from West Godavari district in the Telangana High Court seeking not to issue a Censor Certificate and restrain the producer of ‘Roudram Ranam and Rudiram’ (RRR) to release the movie.

The complainant claimed that the makers allegedly distorted the illustrious history of great independence fighters Alluri Sita Ramaraju and Komaram Bheem (played by actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR, respectively) in order to offend the genuine heroes’ and supporters. According to the complainant, the film is destroying the history of the freedom fighters Alluri Sita Ramaraju and Komaram Bheem.

The case was heard by Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Venkateswara Reddy and later dismissed.

‘Filmmaker Has Artistic Freedom’: Kerala High Court Impleads State Police Chief To Prove Statutory Violation In Publication Of Churuli

The Kerala High Court suo motu impleaded the State Police Chief and ordered the police team to watch movie Churuli. The team is subsequently asked to file a statement to report if there was any statutory violation in exhibiting the Malayalam movie ‘Churuli’.

It was contended that the Censor Board has violated the rules and regulations by sanctioning the release of the movie and that such a release even attracts provisions of IPC.

The court was though of the view that it cannot interfere with the artistic freedom of a filmmaker unless there is any violation of laws. The Court noted that the petitioner had conveniently avoided narrating the plot of the film in the writ petition but rather picked certain instances where abusive words were used by the characters.

The Court later went on to dismiss the plea which sought removal of the film from OTT platforms.

Complaints Lodged Against Mahesh Manjrekar for Offensive Portrayal Of Women And Children

Two complaints and a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) were filed against the filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar for inappropriate representation of women and children in his Marathi film, ‘Nay Varan Bhat Loncha Kon Nay Koncha’. The film was released on January 14. The director was the subject of two complaints, one with the Bandra magistrate court by Kshatriya Maratha Seva Sanstha in Mumbai and the other with the Mumbai sessions court. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was also filed before the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur Bench.

“Title Hurts Sentiments Of Rajput Community”: Karni Sena Moves Allahabad HC Seeking Ban On Release Of Movie ‘Prithviraj’

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea was filed before Allahabad High Court by Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena’s National Vice President (women wing) to restrain the release of the movie Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar.

The plea alleges that the film was titled as Prithviraj in place of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and thus, it passes a wrong message in society and also hurts the religious sentiments and beliefs of Rajput Community.

The film was later renamed as Samrat Prithviraj and released.

Gangubai Kathiawadi: Bombay High Court dismisses plea by residents of Kamathipura against portrayal of entire area as red-light hub

The residents of Kamathipura had filed a plea before the Bombay High Court seeking to remove the references to the Kamathipura area in the movie, Gangubai Kathiawadi. The said plea mentioned that because of the references made in the trailer of the film, the reputation of the area has deteriorated as the movie makes derogatory and wild allegations by portraying the area as a red-light hub.

The Bombay High Court dismissed the petition seeking to remove the references to the Kamathipura area in the movie, Gangubai Kathiawadi.

Kashmir Files receive green signal from Bombay High Court for its theatrical release

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta dismissed a PIL that sought to stall the release of the movie, “The Kashmir Files”. The PIL alleged that the movie hurt religious sentiments of the Muslim community and inflaming members of the Hindu community and had the potential to trigger communal violence.

The Court also noted the fact that the Petitioner had not challenged the certificate issued by the Central Board of Film Certification. Further, the Court also observed that the exhaustion of an efficacious alternate remedy also applies in a public interest litigation, as it does in a private litigation.

The movie is based on Kashmiri Pandits and the repercussions of Kashmir Insurgency. As slated, it released on 11th March, 2022.

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.

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

Delhi High Court issues summons to filmmaker Leena Manimekalai over the Goddess Kaali’s smoking poster

Delhi High Court has issued summons and notice of injunction against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai in a suit seeking restrain from her depicting Hindu Goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette. The suit has been filed against Manimekalai for portraying the Hindu Goddess in an uncalled for manner and for hurting religious sentiments.

The court has listed the matter on February 7, 2023 for further hearing.

Complaint against Ranveer Singh for ‘Hurting Sentiments of Women’ With Nude Photoshoot

A complaint application was submitted at the Chembur police station by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) person, stating that Ranveer Singh hurt the sentiments of women and insulted their modesty through his nude photographs, the official said. Further, it demanded the registration of a case under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Indian Penal Code.

Case filed against Ajay Devgn’s upcoming film “Thank God” for hurting religious sentiments

A case has been filed by a lawyer in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur court against the upcoming film starring Ajay Devgn, Siddharth Malhotra for hurting religious sentiments. The petitioner claims that the movie mocks religion and the trailer of the movie shows Ajay Devgn playing the character of Chitragupta and cracking jokes and using objectionable language.

Also, the representatives of the Kayastha Samaj had filed a police complaint against the makers of the film, including producers of the film, T-series and actor Ajay Devgn and others for alleged indecent portrayal of Hindu deity Chitragupta.

Madras High Court says that there will be no vulgar or obscene song during Dusshera Festival

A petition was filed before the Madras High Court in which the petitioner sought that the organizers of all Dusshera groups and other sound service providers should not sing and play any non-devotional song and Kuthu Pattu during the Dusshera festival. This was done to protect the traditional culture, traditional viradham system and religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees of Arultharum Mutharamman. The Hon’ble Madras High Court through this petition directed the police officials to ensure that there is no obscene or vulgar dance performance during the Dusshera festival.

Case Against Poet For Alleged ‘Condom-Trisul’ Remark

It was alleged in the complaint that poet Srijato had posted a poem on Facebook containing defamatory statements/writings, wherein it is stated inter-alia that “a condom should be put on the Trisul’.

It was further alleged that the poem was not only defamatory but at the same time, it was against the supporters of the Hindu religion and hurts the sentiments of those who repose faith in the Hindu religion. Now, when on repeated dates no report (after conducting a further investigation) was submitted, the petitioner moved the High Court with the instant plea directing the police to submit a further report as to the progress of the investigation immediately.

PIL Filed Against TV Reality Show Bigg Boss (Telugu)

A public interest litigation has recently been filed before the Andhra Pradesh High Court against showcasing television reality show ‘BIGG BOSS 6’ (Telugu season) on grounds that the show promotes obscenity and vulgarity, among others.

The petition also points to the IBF’s Certification Rules and states the act of telecasting the show as being in violation of the ‘IBF’s Content Code & Certification Rules, 2011,’ which expressly prohibit television content containing sex, obscenity, and indecent, derogatory and degrading acts.

“Adipurush” this time – Hindu Sena moves Delhi HC against makers of the movie

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is filed by the national president of Hindu Sena seeking the removal of all objectionable content related to Lord Ram, Sita, Hanuman, Ravana and others. The movie is alleged to have hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community by depicting religious figures in an inappropriate and inaccurate manner.

Thane MLA, Pratap Sarnaik Writes A Letter To The Cm Asking To Form Team Of Historians In Order To Avoid Disputes Over Films

After screening of the Marathi movie, ‘har har Mahadev’ which ran into trouble in various parts of the state over allegations that the said movie distorted the history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, MLA, Pratap Sarnaik wrote a letter to the CM- Eknath Shinde. The said letter sought formation of a review committee comprising of historians so that such instances could be avoided in the future. The letter further suggested that scripts of movies based on history should be first approved by the review committee.

SGPC chief Harjinder Dhami asks Punjab govt to stop release of ‘Dastaan-e-Sirhind’

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has argued that the film Dastaan-E-Sirhind violates strictures against Sikh Gurus or their families being depicted in any film or song, whether by actors or in animated form.

Harjinder Singh Dhami, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), has urged the Punjab government to ban the release of Punjabi film Dastaan-E-Sirhind. The film is a hybrid — cinematic and animated — depiction of the life of the four sahibzadas, or sons, of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last Sikh guru.

Allahabad High Court Grants Pre-Arrest Bail To Amazon Prime Video Head in Tandav (Web-series) Row

The Allahabad High Court has granted final anticipatory bail to Amazon Prime Video head Aparna Purohit who is facing an FIR registered in Lucknow, for allegedly depicting Hindu gods in a bad light in the web series Tandav.

The applicant contended that she had not intended to hurt anyone’s sentiment and that she has no criminal history as well. It was also argued that there is no possibility of the applicant to flee from justice, therefore, she must be entitled for interim protection from this Court.

The court considered the overall facts and circumstances of the case and consequently, came to the conclusion that the applicant deserved to be granted anticipatory bail.

PIL Seeking Prohibition on Exposition of Movie ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’

A PIL was filed before the Calcutta High Court seeking prohibition on the exhibition of the movie Laal Singh Chaddha starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan in the State because it may disrupt the peace.

The BJP leader who has moved the HC, stated that the situation in the state is extremely volatile to any issue relating to religion and due to some recent events of unrest in the state, the petitioner has sought this plea.

The movie has already faced a lot of backlash from a section of society and accusations of defamation are made on the makers for demoralizing the Indian Army.

Hence, the plea seeks to direct the respondents to not exhibit the film in the State of West Bengal, to maintain peace and security and ensure peace and security of individuals watching the movie if in case the exhibition is not prohibited.

Condom Ad Featuring Couple Playing Garba| MP High Court Quashes Case Against Pharma Firm Head For ‘Hurting Sentiments’

The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently quashed criminal proceedings initiated against the head of a pharma firm for publishing a condom advertisement featuring a couple playing Garba and thereby allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

Having perused the content of the advertisement, the bench of Justice Satyendra Kumar Singh observed that the intention of the accused was just to promote the product of his company and not to hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of any community. Consequently, the Could held that offence under Section 295-A, 505 IPC and 67 IT Act are not made out, and hence, the Court quashed the FIR, Chargesheet, and also subsequent criminal proceedings pending against him before the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Indore.

The pharma company named Morphus Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. had ran a promotional offer for free condoms and pregnancy kits for two days during Navratri in 2018 and posted the image of the advertisement on Whatsapp groups and the Facebook page stating “Pre Loveratri Weekend Offer – Condoms (pack of 3)/Pregnancy Test Kit at INR 0”.

In the background of the said image, a couple playing Garba was also shown in the background. A written complaint was made stating that the advertisement published by the applicant hurt the religious sentiments of the people, and thereafter, an FIR was lodged against the applicant.

Read order here.

CBFC asks SRK’s ‘Pathaan’ to make ‘changes’ in songs

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has directed the makers of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Pathaan” to implement “changes” in the movie, including its songs. The movie found itself battling controversy and calls for a ban after the release of its song “Besharam Rang”, also featuring Deepika Padukone, on December 12. A sequence in the song showing Deepika in a saffron bikini led to protests across India for allegedly hurting “Hindu sentiments”.

The film recently reached the CBFC examination committee for certification. The film went through the due and thorough examining process as per the CBFC guidelines. The committee has guided the makers to implement the advised changes in the film including the songs and submit the revised version prior to theatrical release.

PRIVACY AND PERSONALITY RIGHTS 

 Kerala High Court observes Right to be Forgotten may not be an absolute right

The Kerala High Court observed that Right to be Forgotten might not be claimed as an unfettered right, especially in cases when the details of the litigants, published on online websites such as Indian Kanoon.

The observation comes in the light of the pleas filed by litigants who sought deletion of their personal information which appeared on Google search engine and on online portals such as Indian Kanoon despite them being acquitted in those cases.

Amitabh Bachchan Personality Rights Case: Delhi High Court Grants Ex-Parte Omnibus Order Restraining Infringement Of Amitabh Bachchan’s Personality Rights

The Delhi High Court on November 25, 2022 passed an interim order restraining persons at large from infringing the personality and publicity rights of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.  Justice Navin Chawla noted: “By this application, the plaintiff alleges violation of his ‘publicity rights as a celebrity’ as has also been recognised by this Court in its judgment in Titan Industries Ltd. v. M/s. Ramkumar Jewellers, 2012 SCC OnLine Del 2382. It cannot seriously be disputed that the plaintiff is a well-known personality and is also represented in various advertisements. The plaintiff is aggrieved by the defendants’ unauthorized use of his celebrity status to promote their own goods and services, without his permission or authorization.

Having considered the contents of the plaint, the documents filed therewith, as also having heard the learned senior counsel for the plaintiff, I am of the opinion that the plaintiff has been able to make out a good prima facie case in its favour for grant of an ad-interim ex-parte injunction. The balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants. The defendants appear to be using plaintiff’s celebrity status for promoting their own activities, without his authorization or permission. The plaintiff is, therefore, likely to suffer grave irreparable harm and injury of his reputation. In fact, some of the activities complained of may also bring disrepute to him”.

Mr. Bachchan sought an omnibus order in the form of a John Doe order against such persons (unknown defendants) who are violating or infringing his personality rights.

As reported here, the order was sought against four of the defendants from transferring, alienating or creating any third party rights in respect of the domain names amitabhbachchan.com and amitabhbachchan.in. He has also sought a restraining order against book publishers, T-shirt vendors and various other businesses. The suit stated that Bachchan’s name, image and voice were being used by mobile application developers to conduct lotteries by illegally associating with Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), a show hosted by the veteran actor. Mr. Bachchan has stated that only he has control over the commercial utilisation of his personality, name, voice, image, likeness and other characteristics that are uniquely identifiable and associated with him, and no one can do the same without his consent or express authorisation.

Read order here.

Bombay City Civil Court refuses to restrain release of web series Scam 2003: The Curios Case of Abdul Karim Lala Telgi in a plea filed by Abdul Telgi’s daughter

Bombay City Civil Court on December 23, rejected a plea seeking temporary injunction on the release of the web series: Scam 2003: The curious case of Abdul Karim Lala Telgi, a web series to be streamed on Sony Liv. The suit was filed by the daughter and son-in-law of Abdul Telgi seeking injunction on the grounds that consent from the daughter was not sought and the series would destroy the image of her father and therefore the web series should not be released. The defendants argued that the series was based on the book released in 2004 and that there was a lot of material in the public domain on the Telgi scam, which the makers of Scam 2003 had referred to during the making of the series. Further, they argued that in a defamation suit, it was pertinent that the cause of action point to something causing defamation and it cannot be pre-emptive in nature.

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Ajay Devgn’s name cleared from ‘De De Pyaar De’ false advertisement case

A case was filed in the Ajmer consumer court in 2019, by Tarun Aggarwal, a resident of Ajmer against Ajay Devgn in relation to his film ‘De De Pyaar De’. The complaint said that the stunt scene which was demonstrated in the film’s poster but the same was not performed in the film. The complainant said this leads to false advertisement and claimed a compensation of Rs. 4 lakh 51 thousand for bearing the cost of litigation. After receiving the notice, Ajay Devgn through his lawyers requested his name to be removed from the complaint. It was argued on behalf of Ajay Devgn that since he only acted in the film, he cannot be held responsible for the promotion of the film. The Court accepted the actor’s request and asked his name to be removed from the complaint. The bench said that “an actor has nothing to do with hoardings, posters or deciding on the parts to be edited out of a film”.

Body Spray Ad Promoting Rape Banned, Indian Government Orders Social Media Platforms To Take Down Ad

The Indian government has ordered social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to take down the controversial ad of a body spray brand after outrage over its role in promoting rape. The ad had caused outrage from netizens, who felt that it was promoting rape in a country, which is already struggling in controlling the sexual violence against women.

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.

Bombay High Court restrains SEBAMED from broadcasting disparaging ads

Single Judge bench headed by Justice AK Menon permanently restrained USV Private Limited, owner of SEBAMED soap brand, from broadcasting advertisements, print or electronic, ridiculing or condemning the soap brands LUX, DOVE and PEARS owned by Hindustan Unilever Limited.

The Bench further directed USV to destroy all copies of the advertisements that the company might have been using so far and restrained them from publishing or broadcasting any further derogatory material.

The order of the Court dated 16.06.2022 can be accessed here.

Celebs, influencers take legal opinion on claims as CCPA guidelines come into force Read more (here)

The new advertising guidelines by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) that came into effect last month can become a point of problem for endorsers, individuals, and influencers as to what they promote and endorse. Recently, Amitabha Bachhan also expressed his opinion on this saying “There are strict rules and regulations now by the GOI and the ASCI guidelines, I think that is who they are, who have now given ruling that, Influencers – a new terminology for them that put up product pictures with a mention or product pictures, to state that they are the sponsors, promotors, etc., or in partnership.. else it is becoming illegal .. so several posts of mine have been given notices that the change should be done … else .. …😟 ya .. !!”

Zomato withdraws Hrithik Roshan ad after backlash from temple, apologises

Zomato on 23rd August, withdrew the ad it released recently showcasing Hrithik Roshan amidst backlash from public. The company stated that the advertisement makers had no intention to disrespect any religion.

The controversy began on Saturday after priests of the Mahakaleshwar temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain objected to the advertisement in which the actor says he felt like having a “thali” (food platter) in Ujjain so he ordered it from “Mahakal”.

“Mahakal temple does not deliver any thali. Zomato and Hrithik Roshan must apologize for this ad,” priest said, according to the Business Standard. “The company has made misleading publicity about the Mahakal temple in its advertisement. The company should think before issuing such advertisements.”

The priests also approached Ujjain Collector Ashish Singh, who is the chairman of the Mahakal temple trust, and sought action against the company. Several Twitter users had also called for a boycott of Zomato.

Zomato, however, clarified that the ad referenced the Mahakal Restaurant of the city and not the Mahakaleshwar temple.

“Mahakal Restaurant is one of our high-order-volume restaurant partners in Ujjain and thali is a recommended item on its menu,” Zomato said. “The video is part of its pan-India campaign for which we identified top local restaurants and their top dishes based on popularity in each city.”

It added that Zomato deeply respects the sentiments of the people of Ujjain and the ad in question is no longer running.

Media influencers may soon have to reveal sponsored posts as ‘paid content’ as per Standards for Social Media Influencers

As per a recent article on Economic Times, social media influencers may soon have to mandatorily disclose their sponsored posts as ‘paid content’ if there is a material connection between them and a brand, according to the Standards for Social Media Influencers currently being drafted by the government. In the event of failure, the influencers will be held accountable and may have to pay a penalty.

As per the article, there will be no threshold on the number of followers that an influencer has in order to fall under the purview of these standards.

The guidelines are expected to be published in the next couple of weeks.

Facebook India approaches Bombay High Court against Order to pay compensation to man for fraudulent advertisement

Facebook India Online Services and META Platforms Inc have approached the Bombay High Court against the Order given by the Consumer Redressal Commission directing the company to pay Rs. 25,599 to a daily wage labourer for non-delivery of a product that he purchased online and fraudulent advertisements on its platform. The amount Rs. 25,599 constituted of Rs. 599 for non-delivery of the product and Rs. 25,000 for mental agony.

Central consumer protection authority (CCPA) issues notices for surrogate ads to Kamla Pasand, Rajnigandha (see here)

As per this new thread, the CCPA has sent notices for surrogate advertising to various brands of products including Kamla Pasand, Vimal pan masala, Rajnigandha, Seagram’s imperial blue(alcoholic beverage), Sterling Reserve(alcoholic beverage) etc. Earlier, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory on October 3 to all private satellite channels to refrain from broadcasting misleading ads.

Google To Drop Advertisements Of Online Betting Firms

India has asked Google to stop displaying surrogate ads of overseas betting companies such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway and 1xBet in search results and YouTube, amid a crackdown on illegal online gambling.

Overall, ₹5,000 crore is being deposited in the accounts of multiple agents of these companies in India every month, according to estimates by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF). However, there is no clarity on where this money is going or how it’s being used, the lobby group claims.

SPORTS AND GAMING

 Supreme Court Issues Notice On Tamil Nadu Govt Plea Challenging Madras HC Judgment Striking Down Online Gaming Ban Law

The Supreme Court on 9th September 2022 issued notice on a plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the Madras High Court’s order striking down the State’s ban on online games, such as rummy and poker. The Respondents, including gaming companies like Junglee Games, Play Games 24×7, Gemeskraft Technologies, along with All India Gaming Federation and others, were directed to file their replies on the matter in four weeks.

The Tamil Nadu government had moved the Supreme Court in December, 2021 against the Madras High Court’s judgment on 3rd August 2021, wherein it had declared the government’s law banning online betting games as ultra vires of the Constitution.

The Karnataka and Kerala government had also banned online games in their states. However, the High Courts of both states have lifted the bans. In March, 2022, the Karnataka government has also moved the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court’s order quashing several provisions of the Karnataka Police Act prohibiting betting and wagering in online games.

Karnataka High Court strikes down provisions of Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021; holds online gaming with stakes as legal

The Karnataka High Court has struck down certain provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021 which banned online games with stakes. The Court considered these provisions as ultra vires to the Constitution of India. The Court has also issued a writ of mandamus restraining the State Government from interfering with the online gaming business. Judgment dated 14th February 2022 can be accessed here.

Karnataka High Court quashes FIR against co-founders of Dream 11, a fantasy sports platform

The Karnataka High Court on March 24 quashed criminal proceedings against Harsh Jain and Bhavit Seth, co-founders of Dream 11, a fantasy sports platform. The Hon’ble High Court quashed the said proceedings in view of the fact that the Court had earlier struck down various provisions of the Karnataka Police Amendment Act, which was brought in with the aim to ban online games. (Here)

Amended legislation is the only solution to ban online gambling, says PMK Founder Ramadoss

PMK founder S. Ramadoss said an amended legislation to ban online gambling is the only solution, while pointing out that the current approach wouldn’t fetch the desired results, and urged the State government to bring in an ordinance immediately and pass a legislation in the next Assembly session in March.

 

Multiple State governments have enacted laws against online gambling and on appeals in at least 7 such cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that such laws are invalid. Even in 2016, Supreme Court has ruled against the Tamil Nadu government on the issue, Mr. Ramadoss said.

Mr. Ramadoss added that the main reason is that the Supreme Court has accepted the argument that it is a game of skill, and the enactment passed by the Tamil Nadu government last year banning online gambling did not have strong points to prove that these are games of chance and not games of skill.

Mr. Ramadoss highlighted that there have been no signs of the Supreme Court taking the appeal for hearing, and thus urged the need for an amended legislation, rather than awaiting the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Madhya Pradesh government soon to bring a law to regulate online gaming

After the alleged suicide by an 11 years old boy while playing Free Fire game, Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister, Narottam Mishra, has said that the state government will bring an act to regulate gaming applications on mobile phones. He further claimed that the draft of the Act was nearly complete and it will soon be given a concrete shape. (Here)

Maharashtra Govt. to take a stand on game of skill or gamble debate of online poker

While hearing a petition filed by social activist, Munawar Ahmed, seeking restraint on ‘illegal activities’ which are contrary to larger public interest, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra Government to explain its stand on the legality of the poker game, both online and offline. Gambling is considered illegal as per the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1959 and the authorities are required to take action against the agencies promoting gambling. (Here)

Delhi High Court asks Delhi Government to decide whether fantasy game “Gameking 11” is a game of skill or not

The Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi government to consider and decide a representation claiming that ‘GAMEKING 11’, a fantasy sports game, is a skill game not amounting to gambling, and the authorities, including the police, should not create any hindrance in its operation. The petition has been filed by Dream7 Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., i.e., the operator of the said fantasy sports platform. The petitioner argued that other High Courts have held that other similar fantasy sports games amounted to games of skill, and that ‘GAMEKING 11’ did not attract the rigors of the Delhi Gambling Act, 1955. Further, the petitioner possessed the necessary trade licence from South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and claimed that it is entitled to protect its right to free trade under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.

Upon being questioned by the court on the element of skill involved in the said fantasy sports platform, the senior counsel for petitioners explained that “skill was in selection”, as a user “selects, builds and acts as manager” of his virtual team constituting of real players who compete with the virtual teams of other users for points.

The court clarified that the petitioner is free to seek the remedies available in law to it after the decision. Delhi government counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi submitted that the writ petition can be considered as a representation by the competent authority and a speaking order can be passed within two weeks.

Delhi High Court grants ex-parte ad-interim injunction against “Satta Dream 11”

The Delhi High Court issued an ex-parte ad-interim injunction against the fantasy sports platform, “Satta Dream 11” in a trademark infringement suit filed by Dream11, thereby restraining the Defendant from using the mark “Satta Dream11” or any deceptively similar variant as a trademark, trade name or domain name amounting to infringement of the Plaintiff’s mark. The Court also directed the domain name registrar, Godaddy.com LLC, to suspend access to the domain name www.sattadream11.com, within a period of one week. Order dated 1st April 2022 can be accessed here.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting widens the scope of Sports Act

The MIB has widened the scope of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 by notifying a fresh list of sporting events of national importance that have to be shared by the sports broadcasters with the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati. The notification requires the sports broadcasters to share, inter alia, the feeds of Olympic games, in cricket – One-Day, Twenty20 and Test matches of Indian Men’s and Women’s Cricket Team and all International Cricket Council Test matches featuring India.

Gaming time limit and the Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022

The Online Gaming (Regulation) Bill, 2022 was proposed to set up an Online Gaming Commission for regulating the online gaming industry. The said Commission can deliberate upon limitations such as the amount of time one can play the game every day, the amount of money one can spend on such games, etc. Given that India has around 420 million active online gamers and the industry is slated to grow to $5 billion by 2025, the draft is said to be necessary to prevent fraud and misuse. (Here)

A seven member committee has been set up by the Government of India to Regulate Online Gaming Industry

A seven member committee has been set up by the Government of India that will oversee and regulate the gaming industry in the country. The said committee will look into ways to promote online gaming and to frame regulatory mechanisms for the segment, protection of gamers, among various other things. This decision has been appreciated by various organizations, such as, for instance, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).

Central Government issues advisory against ads promoting online betting

The Government has issued advisory to the media refraining it from advertising online betting platforms after a number of advertisements of online betting websites / platforms have been appearing in print, electronic, social and online media. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting advisory is to caution the public about the significant financial and socio-economic risk posed by the betting platforms. The said advisory comes in the light of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines on advertisements of online gaming which contained specific “Do’s and Don’ts” for print and audio-visual advertisements of online gaming.

Ministry Issues Advisory Against Advertisements Of Betting Still Visible On Television And Digital Media

I&B Ministry has issued two Advisories, one for private television channels and the other for digital news publishers and OTT platforms strongly advising them to refrain from showing advertisements of online betting sites and surrogate advertisements of such sites.

It had come to the notice of the Government that several sports channels on television, as well as on OTT platforms, have recently been showing advertisements of offshore online betting platforms as well as their surrogate news websites. The Advisories were supplemented with evidences which contained direct and surrogate advertisements of offshore betting platforms such as Fairplay, PariMatch, Betway, Wolf 777, and 1xBet. (Here and here)

Madras High Court takes suo moto cognizance on Government permitting life damaging video games despite the ban

The Madras High Court took suo moto cognizance of increased addiction to online gaming among teenagers. The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition relating to a missing girl, who was later found to be addicted to playing an online game called “Free Fire”. The Court noted: “In our view, the State as well as the Central Governments must come forward with a clear-cut report as to how these types of online games which damage the life of younger generation, are permitted despite the ban imposed by the Government of India. We are, therefore, of the view that constitutional Court has got the responsibility to take up the issue in larger public interest”. (Here)

E-Gaming Federation to challenge Tamil Nadu ordinance banning online gaming

The e-Gaming Federation (EGF) is set to challenge the recent ordinance issued by the Tamil Nadu government to ban online gaming by categorising rummy and poker as games of chance. An EGF statement said that rummy and poker  has been regarded predominantly as a game of skill by the Supreme Court and held to be protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. Bringing rummy under the ambit of games of chance directly violates the Supreme Court judgments and the Madras High Court judgment which overturned the law banning online games, wherein it was held that any game (including rummy and poker) in which the better skilled person would prevail more often than not, is a game of skill, and is distinct from gambling or a game of chance. (Here)

CCPA issues show-cause notices to 6 online betting apps over surrogate ads

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), on 19th October 2022, sent show cause notices to six online betting apps for violating advertising norms. The CCPA alleges that six online betting apps misled consumers by issuing surrogate advertisements on news platforms. This comes after the Centre issued advisories to news websites, OTT platforms, and private satellite channels, asking them to refrain from carrying advertisements on online betting sites. (Here)

All India Gaming Federation petitions before the Madras High Court to overturn a TN legislation that prohibits internet gaming, and subsequently withdraws the said petition

The petitioner contended that online games, such as poker and rummy, are games of skill rather than chance and hence should not have been forbidden. The petitioner further questioned the validity of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance, 2022, and has also asked for a temporary stay of execution. The Federation also noted in its petition that it is always striving to ensure that online gaming is done appropriately.

Subsequently, on 16th November 2022, the All India Gaming Federation and other online gaming companies withdrew all petitions challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s ordinance for Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games, after the State informed that the same yet to be notified. Observing that the court could not interfere at such a time when the ordinance itself had not come into effect, the court gave liberty to the petitioners to withdraw the suit with liberty to file fresh petitions. [see: All India Gaming Federation v. State of Tamil Nadu; WP No. 29911 of 2022]

Inter-ministerial panel proposes central law to govern online gaming

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology set up IMTF, whose report includes recommendations for central legislation to govern online gaming, and deems the Public Gambling Act, 1867 (PGA), which currently covers this sphere, incapable “of covering / defending / dealing” with digital-based activities and the emerging technologies associated with it. The report noted that the PGA is a pre-internet era law and acts as a model law state governments may or may not adopt.

The report cited inconsistencies in the state laws regarding online gambling while backing central legislation. It said an online gaming platform must not allow or facilitate transactions through unauthorised payment systems and encourage or facilitate any money laundering activities financing of terrorism activities or transactions in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, etc.

The report further stated that the lack of a uniform regulatory approach for online gaming in state laws is a cause for concern. It added that  some state governments follow the PGA and allow real money games of skill while others have sought to prohibit both games of skill and chance, despite the Supreme Court recognising the fundamental right to trade for games of skill. These factors have created an uncertain regulatory environment for online gaming companies, which are forced to use technologies such as geo-fencing as their games may be legal in some states, and illegal in others.

The report thus proposes a uniform law to determine what forms of online gaming are allowed. It has sought the elimination of the inconsistencies between the laws of different states and to have a single body to address issues pertaining to online gaming.

Plea in Madras High Court: Keep minors off from online gambling games

The Madras High Court sought a response from the Central Government on a plea seeking directions to restrict minors from participating in online gaming and sports betting websites and mobile applications by uploading documents for verifying age of the participants. The petition was filed in light of suicides committed by minors purportedly due to online gaming, and accordingly seeks promulgation of stringent laws and regulations to prevent young teenagers from gambling.

Esports recognised as official sports by the Indian Government in their attempt to distinguish online games and esports

The Indian Government has revised the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, under the 317th Amendment to the Indian Constitution. Now known as the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 2022, a recent notification from the Cabinet Secretariat of India states the modification of the country’s classification of online gaming and esports. The Government of India officially recognised esports as a ‘multisports event’ under the Ministry of Youth Affairs.

The Government of India has officially classified and sought legal distinction between Esports and Online Gaming.

According to the Act mentioned above, Online Gaming has now been put under the heading of ‘The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’ under entry 5A of the Act. While, Esports has been classified under entry 2A of the Act.

India is deemed to be a juggernaut in Esports in the coming years and this formal support in developing its infrastructure by the government will add a massive boost to this process.

Read notification here.

 TRADEMARK

‘DIL AFZA’ and ‘Sharbat ROOH AFZA’ Trademark dispute:

  • Trademark Infringement Suit Has To Be Stayed Till Disposal Of Rectification Proceedings Before Registrar

The Delhi High Court has made it clear that under Section 124 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, when rectification proceedings are pending, the suit against infringement of Trademark has to be stayed, pending final disposal of such proceedings.

The Court stayed the suit filed by Hamdard Dawakhana, against alleged infringement of its registered trademark ‘Rooh Afza’. It however clarified that even during the pendency of rectification application, interim injunction may be granted by the Court. Reliance was placed on Section 124(5) of the 1999 Act and a 2014 Division Bench judgment in Raj Kumar Prasad v. Abbott Healthcare (P) Ltd.

Accordingly, the Bench proceeded to consider whether the defendant’s registered trademark, ‘Dil Afza’ was intended to create confusion in the minds of consumers. It concluded that no case has been made out to restrain the defendant from marketing its sharbat under the name ‘Dil Afza’.

Read order of the Single Judge Bench here.

  • Division Bench restrains sale of Sharbat DIL AFZA in trademark suit of ‘Sharbat ROOH AFZA’

Subsequently, the Hamdard Group of Companies went in appeal the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court allowed the appeal of the Hamdard Group of Companies challenging the order of the Single Judge The Court restrained the respondent from selling their product bearing the mark ‘Dil Afza’. The Division Bench of Justices Vibhu Bakhru and Amit Mahajan passed the order after holding that there is a clear connection between the words ‘Rooh’, which means soul, and ‘Dil’ meaning heart.

“It is thus not difficult to conceive that a person who looks at the label of DIL AFZA may recall the label of ROOH AFZA as the word ‘AFZA’ is common and the meaning of the words ‘ROOH’ and ‘DIL’, when translated in English, are commonly used in conjunction,” the Court said.

It was also stated that the bottles in which the two products are being sold are similar.

In doing so, the Bench set aside the order of the single-judge which dismissed the application filed by the Rooh Afza manufacturers seeking an injunction on the sale of Dil Afza.

Read order of Division Bench here.

Delhi High Court Refunds Entire Court Fees In A Trademark Infringement Suit Resolved Amicably Outside Court

The Delhi High Court recently decided to refund the entire court fees in a trademark infringement case, which was amicably settled by the parties outside the Court.

In doing so, the Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait followed suit of the Supreme Court in the case of High Court of Judicatum at Madras vs MC: Subramaniam. In the said case, the Top Court had held that the parties who privately agree to settle their dispute outside the modes contemplated under Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure are also entitled to refund of Court fees.

The participants in private settlements will be entitled to the same benefits as those who have been referred to explore alternate dispute settlement methods under Section 89 CPC, the bench comprising Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran had observed

Applying the said ratio, the Delhi High Court allowed the present plaintiff to seek refund of entire court fees. The plaintiff, Western infrabuild Products, had moved the Court seeking permanent injunction restraining infringement copyright, trademark/ trading name/corporate name, passing off, unfair competition, delivery up, damages, etc. against the defendants.

Read order here.

Appears To Be Dishonest Adoption Of Plaintiff’s Trademark: Delhi High Court Grants Interim Protection To Owner Of “Baazi” Games

In a case concerning alleged trademarks infringement, the Delhi High Court granted an ad interim injunction against the Defendants under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 read with Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 unjustifiably using the trademarked word “Baazi for its gaming services.

Adjudicating on the argument of the Defendant regarding the descriptive nature of the word “Baazi as non-violative of the Petitioner’s trademark, Justice Asha Menon observed as followed that no reason for such adoption of the same word “Baazi has been offered by the defendants except to claim that “Bazzi” is a descriptive word After all the trademark of the defendants is Winzo. Where was the need to borrow the word used by the Plaintiff along with its registered trademark if it was not for benefitting from the goodwill of the plaintiff’s trademark

Holding that dishonest use of trademark “Baazi” or a similar word by a competitor of the registered proprietor of the trademark would suffice to restrain such user, the Court allowed the application of the Plaintiff/the registered proprietor for ad interim injunction till the disposal of the suit.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court imposes Rs. 1 lakh costs on 2 registrars from the office of Trade Marks Controller General for concealing facts

The Delhi High Court bench of Justice Pratibha Singh had imposed a cost of Rs. 1 lakh each on the Deputy Registrar and the Assistant Registrar of Trademarks. The reason being non-disclosure of facts by them in relation to a case before the Hon’ble Court. The Court further said that their conduct appeared to be deliberate as officers did not disclose the information before the Court even though they appeared before the Court twice. (Here)

 

HT Media’s SHINE Trademark gets protection from unauthorized use

The Delhi High Court restrained 8 rogue websites/entities from unauthorizedly using the trademark ‘SHINE’, ‘shine learning’ and copyright of the website belonging to HT Media. The order came from the plea filed by the company alleging targeting of innocent people by these rogue entities.

Justice Yogesh Khanna passed an interim order, ordering the operator of email service ‘Gmail’ to provide information related to rogue defendant’s email IDs and shut the impugned IDs until next hearing. The Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Electronics to issue notification qua various internet/telecom service providers to block access of the website. Further, the Cyber Crime Cell and Economic Offences Wing, Delhi Police was ordered to reveal user details of the rogue defendants.

The order of the Court dated 13th January 2022 can be accessed here.

 

Delhi High Court holds that using recycled bottles of another manufacture is passing off

Budweiser brought a suit before the Delhi High Court contending that the bottles manufactured by them which have the trade mark Budweiser embossed on the bottles, were being used by the defendants after re-labelling to sell their own beer. The Delhi High decided in the favour of Budweiser and restrained the manufacturers of ‘Power Cool’ and ‘Black Fort’ from using the recycled bottles manufactured by Budweiser to sell their Beer. (Here)

Venus moves Delhi High Court against Pen Pvt. Limited for a title infringement case over “Khiladi”

Venus Worldwide Entertainment Private Limited has moved the Delhi High Court against Pen Private Limited seeking a permanent injunction restraining infringement of its registered “KHILADI” trademarks being aggrieved with the forthcoming release of a film titled ‘KHILADI’ by the defendants. The said film is slated to be released in Cinemas on the 11th of February, 2022. The matter was listed on 10th February, 2022 where the Plaintiff after some arguments, on instructions, stated that it is not pressing for an ex-parte order qua the theatrical release. The Plaintiff however submitted that the movie would at a later date, also be released on Digital/ OTT platforms and across other technological media viz. DVD/ VCD and that interim orders be passed qua such imminent launch. The certification of Defendant’s movie is for title “KHILADI”. However, in the posters, underneath the said title – a slogan/ tagline “Play Smart” also appears. The defendant sought time to take instructions on whether the representation of the tagline appearing along with the title can be changed for the release across other platforms, so as to address the Plaintiff’s concern. The matter is next listed on 17th February, 2022.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court directs Hero trademark battle to arbitration

The legal battle between the Munjal Brothers regarding the ownership over the trademark “Hero” for two-wheeler vehicles has been directed to arbitration by the Delhi High Court. The issue arose when Vijay Munjal, owner of Her Electric, had moved the Delhi High Court against his cousin, Pawan Munjal, promoter and chairman of Hero MotoCorp, seeking an injunction on use of brand name, Hero MotoCorp.

As the Court has refused to impose any injunction, the Hero Electric has stated that it would reiterate its prayer for interim injunction before the arbitration tribunal. The arbitration panel shall include 3 retired judges.

Super Cassettes vs. Tata Motors

  • Super Cassettes Industries moved Delhi High Court for seeking injunction against Tata Motors over alleged infringement of Trademark

Super Cassettes Pvt. Ltd. had filed a suit in February seeking a permanent injunction restraining infringement, passing off and damages against Tata Motors Ltd. The said suit sought permanent injunction against Tata Motors from using the registered trademarks of Super Cassettes Industries, namely, “Ultra T.Series” or “Ultra Sleek T-Series Range”.

  • After multiple hearings, subsequently, Tata Motors Agreed To Drop ‘T-Series’ Mark

The companies settled the matter before the Delhi High Court with the automotive manufacturer undertaking not to use the record label ‘T-Series or T.Series’ in respect of its automobile products.

As per the settlement, it was also undertaken that Tata Motors will remove or takedown all the content with reference to the mark T-Series from its websites and social media platforms.

In view of the settlement agreement, Super Cassettes gave up its claim for rendition of accounts and damages.

Delhi High Court passes John Doe Order for blocking websites illegally using ‘DABUR’ Trademark

Justice Pratibha Singh grants interim relief to Dabur India Limited by ordering the blocking of certain websites illegally using ‘DABUR’ domain name. The John Doe order is to restrict complete impersonation by illegal websites and not merely infringement and passing off. The Court observed that the balance of convenience was in the favour of the applicant and it made out a case of ex-parte injunction.

The Court further acknowledged the issue related with the practice of “hiding or masking the details of the Registrants” holding domain names is more and more resorted by persons who register such domains which impinge upon owners of trademarks and names.

Bombay High Court upholds the decision of Single Judge ordering PhonePe to file a fresh trademark suit to claim exclusivity over ‘Pe’ suffix

PhonePe receives a nod from the Bombay High Court to file a fresh suit claiming trademark infringement against Resilient Innovations, the owners of PostPe for using the suffix ‘Pe’ for their mobile application. Earlier, a single judge of the High Court had granted leave to PhonePe to withdraw its suit and file a fresh one, which was challenged before a division bench.

Delhi High Court grants ex-parte injunction in trademark injunction suit by VOLVO

The Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining Lamina Suspension Products Limited from using the registered trademarks, ‘VOLVO’ and ‘FMX’ or any other mark confusingly or deceptively similar to these marks. Plaintiff, being the user of the mark VOLVO since 1915, has been using it for heavy commercial vehicles. Whereas, the Defendants were using it in relation to leaf springs and other parts used in the heavy vehicles.

The order of the court dated 8th March, 2022 can be read here.

No Call To Have Expert Witness To Testify To Use Of Identical Mark In Registered Trademark Infringement Or Passing Off Cases: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has observed that in a case of infringement of registered Trade Marks or passing off, similarity of the marks used is to be considered and that there is no call to have an expert witness to testify to the use of an identical or similar Trade Mark.

Justice Asha Menon added that the emphasis is on the branding and not on the manufacture of the goods in question. It is the false branding that results in the product being counterfeit.

Read order here.

Delhi HC Asks Controller General To Devise Proper Mechanism For Show Cause Hearings

Observing that refusal of a trademark without even affording an opportunity of hearing to the applicant would be contrary to the fundamental tenets of natural justice, the Delhi High Court has asked the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) to devise a proper mechanism for holding show cause hearings.

Noting that the Trademark Registry deals with lakhs of applications every year, Justice Pratibha M Singh opined that the utilization of a platform for virtual conference hearing wherein only three individuals are permitted to join at a time, would be grossly insufficient and an outdated mode of holding hearings.

It added that Lawyers, Applicants or Agents ought to be permitted to appear through the open link and make submissions before the Examiner so long as they do it in an orderly manner without disturbing the hearings being held.

Accordingly, in order to avoid inconvenience and expense for the applicants to knock the doors of High Courts by way of writ petitions for such procedural lapses, the Court asked the CGPDTM to device a proper mechanism for holding show cause hearings.

The Court was dealing with a petition raising a grievance that the trademark application of the Petitioner dated 24th October, 2018 in Class – 17 for the registration of the mark ‘SWISS’ was refused without even affording a hearing to the Petitioner. The case of the Petitioner was that two notices for hearing were given to him. Even though the agent for the Petitioner logged in for the hearing, the official concerned did not log in, on both the occasions.

Read order here.

Trademark Infringement: Delhi High Court Grants Permanent Injunction Against Now Banned ‘Club Factory’ Website In Suit By Louis Vuitton

The Delhi High Court granted permanent injunction against ‘Club Factory’, a China based portal which was banned by the Indian Government amid pandemic, in the trademark infringement suit filed by luxury brand ‘Louis Vuitton’.

www.clubfactory.com has been permanently restrained from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale directly or indirectly any goods including face masks etc., bearing the registered marks of Louis Vuitton on its portal or any other portal run by them.

Subsequently, later on the Delhi High Court awarded Louis Vuitton Rs 20 lakh in this matter. Despite the undertaking, the high court determined that the products were still accessible online on the Louis Vuitton website, which clearly incorporates the use of the various device and word marks. The High Court barred Futuretimes Technology and others from creating, marketing, or offering for sale directly or indirectly any things bearing the registered marks of Louis Vuitton on their website ‘www.clubfactory.com’ or any other portal owned by them. In this case, they decided that due to certain sensitivity,” they simply intended to pursue costs rather than damages.

Read order here.

Trademark Infringement: Delhi High Court Grants Interim Injunction In Favour Of “Magic Moments”, Restrains Mark ‘Evening Moment’

The Delhi High Court has granted ad interim injunction in favour of manufacturer of “MAGIC MOMENTS” liquor in a trademark infringement suit over use of the mark ‘EVENING MOMENT’ as being deceptively similar to it’s registered trademark for alcoholic beverages.

The court restrained Defendants from using the mark ‘EVENING MOMENT’ or any other mark consisting of the word ‘MOMENT/MOMENTS’ in respect of any alcoholic beverages manufactured, sold or offered by sale by them.

n the opinion of the Court, the word ‘MAGIC MOMENTS’ was an arbitrary word used for the products of the Plaintiff. Considering the overall facts and circumstances, the Court observed that the marks ‘MAGIC MOMENTS’ and ‘EVENING MOMENT’ were deceptively similar in view of the fact that the essential feature ‘MOMENT’ was being used in toto by the Defendants.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court Refuses Interim Injunction In Trademark Infringement Suit By Mankind Pharma Against RTPCR Testing Kit ‘OMISURE’

The Delhi High Court has refused to pass an ad interim injunction against Tata Medical and Diagnostics Limited, manufacturer of ‘OMISURE’, an RTPCR kit used for detecting COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The court was dealing with a suit filed by Mankind Pharma Limited seeking permanent injunction for infringement of their registered trademark ‘OMIPURE’.

The Court opined that the two marks in question, i.e., ‘OMIPURE’ and ‘OMISURE’ were not identical and that the pharmaceutical and medical preparations for which the Plaintiff’s mark was registered was not the product for which the Defendant was using the mark i.e., diagnostic kits.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court grants John Doe Order in favour of ‘Aaj Tak’ in Trademark Infringement Suit

Justice Pratibha M Singh of Delhi High Court passed a john doe order in favour of the news channel, Aaj Tak, in a trademark infringement suit filed by it against various entities. The court observed and acknowledged the reputation and goodwill in the name and mark ‘AAJ TAK’ is well established.

The suit was filed by Living Media India Limited arguing that their registered mark ‘AAJ TAK’ is well-known and the Plaintiffs hold multiple accounts, profiles and handles on different social media platforms with millions of subscribers. There were various known and unknown parties using the trademark ‘AAJ TAK’ or using the derivations of this mark or logo.

The court issued directions for taking down of the marks which were identical or deceptively similar to the name or logo of AAJ TAK on social media platforms. The main suit is listed for hearing on August 3, 2022.

The order of the court dated 30.03.2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court: Trademark disputes arising purely out of contractual rights and obligations are arbitrable

The Single Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru observed that all disputes that deal with the interpretation of the terms of a trademark agreement and are not related to the grant or registration of the trademarks can be decided in arbitration.

The Court further clarified that unless the dispute revolves around registration of trademarks, there is no legal requirement of raising the same before the Registrar of Trade Marks or the IP Division of the High Court.

Red Bull’s plea for injunction against Pepsi denied by the Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court dismissed the injunction application of Red Bull against PepsiCo from using the tagline “Stimulates Mind, Energizes Body” for its energy drink “Sting”. Red Bull’s plea stated that the impugned tagline is similar to its registered tagline “Vitalizes body and mind” which it is using since 1987 in 73 different countries across the world.

The suit was filed in August 2018 and in September 2018, the parties were referred for mediation. However, as per the order dated April 6, 2022, the mediation proceedings weren’t successful.

Delhi High Court holds that a party applying for registration of a particular trademark estopped from claiming that it is a ‘descriptive’ mark

The Delhi High Court confirmed the ex-parte injunction granted in favour of “Plant Powered”, an entity dealing in sale and distribution of baby care and personal care products, in a trademark infringement suit.

The Court rejected the contention of the Defendant that the impugned mark is descriptive and there can be no monopoly over the same. The Defendant is also said to be using the name ‘Plant Powered’ as a trading style for identical goods.

Justice Pratibha M. Singh observed that “the fact that the Defendant itself applied for the trademark application and registration of the mark ‘PLANT POWERED’ means that they are estopped from claiming that the same is the description of the product’.

The judgement of the Court dated 22.03.2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court to consider whether the use of a trademark as a keyword on Google Ad program would constitute infringement

Justice Pratibha M Singh will be adjudicating whether use of a trademark as a keyword on the Google Ad program, would constitute infringement. The question will be adjudicated in a case involving a Plaintiff company’s website ‘udchalo.com’. The Plaintiff obtained the registration of the mark “UdChalo” in Class 39. The Plaintiff filed the suit with the grievance that Defendants are using ‘UdChalo’ as an ad word on the Google Ads program to attract internet users to their websites.

The order of the Court dated 16.03.2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court Awards Damages to Levi Strauss In Trademark Infringement Suit

While adjudicating a trademark infringement suit in favour of plaintiff, the Delhi High Court held that the signature ‘Arcuate Stitching Design’ of Levi Strauss had achieved the status of a “well-known” mark.

The court imposed a cost of ₹4 lakh on Imperial Online Services Private Limited, which was selling denim jeans with an identical ‘Arcuate Stitching Design’ mark through the website www.urbanofashion.com and other e-commerce platforms. The court also directed the e-commerce sites to take down links to garments that were using the ‘Arcuate Stitching Design’ mark.

Concurrent Registration Of Same Or Similar Trademark By Two Or More Persons Not Per Se Barred (HTC Corporation vs. Mr. LV Degao & Ors)

The Delhi High Court in the present case (HTC Corporation vs. Mr. LV Degao & Ors.held that for a consumer of average intelligence and observation, it may not be difficult to believe that the hair grooming products of the defendants with the Trade Mark HTC and link to the website of the plaintiff, were actually being produced and marketed by the plaintiff.

The Court restrained the defendants from manufacturing, selling, supplying, offering for sale, including through online platforms, of hair trimmers, hair clippers, hair dryers or any other goods bearing the impugned Trade Marks amounting to infringement of the registered trademark, dilution and passing off, till the decision in the rectification or cancellation proceedings is rendered.

Although, the Court clarified that ordinarily if the two Trade Marks are validly registered, both the registered proprietors can use the Trade Marks to the exclusivity of third parties, but cannot assert their rights against each other.

However in certain situations, registration of the latter Trade Mark may be refused registration or cancelled. These situations are: (i) when deception or confusion results, (ii) there is dishonest user, (iii) subsequent use without due cause, (iv) there is bad faith, or (v) dilution of the distinctiveness of a prior registered Trade Mark may occur.

Google Files For Trademark For ‘Pixel Watch’

Given the impending launch of its device, Google is said to have filed for a trademark for ‘Pixel Watch’ which is intended to cover the categories of smartwatches; cases adapted for holding smartwatches; wearable computers in the nature of smartwatches; smartwatch straps; smartwatch bands. See here.

Jeh Wadia hands over the ‘Go’ trademark to Group 

Recently, Jeh Wadia, the former managing director of Go Airlines, is said to have handed over the usage of the trademark ‘Go’, back to Wadia Group. This was a part of a settlement between Jeh Wadia and Go Airlines which is set for the revival of the budget airline’s ₹3,600-crore fundraising plans through an initial public offer (IPO). Read here.

Snapdeal’s failed attempt to get relief in a trademark infringement case (see here)

Recently, Snapdeal filed a case in Delhi High Court alleging that third parties are appropriating its word/tread Snapdeal in their domain names and sought an injunction against the domain name registrars (DNRs) from offering for registration any domain name that included the thread/word  Snapdeal”. The Delhi High Court while refusing to grant such order that operates in the future, noted that doing it would be attributing the court a “clairvoyance that it does not possess” and “…There is no shortcut to justice.”.

Use Of Registered Mark By Competitors As Keyword In Google Ads Program Prima Facie Infringement Under Trademarks Act: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court recently granted injunction in favour of Make My Trip while observing that use of its registered mark by competitors even as metatags is an infringement under Trademarks Act and that third party bidding on trademarks as sponsored keywords for use by internet search engines can constitute misrepresentation.

Thus, it restrained the Defendants from using the mark ‘MakeMyTrip’ together/ in conjunction, with or without spaces for the purpose of using it as a keyword on the Google Ads Program till the next date of hearing. The Court also clarified that the said interim injunction will stay limited to the territory of India.

The Plaintiff – MakeMyTrip (India) Pvt. Ltd. had filed the suit for permanent injunction seeking protection of its registered trademarks ‘MakeMyTrip’ and its variants. It was the case of the Plaintiff that their marks are being used by Booking.com B.V. as keywords on the Google Ads Program for promoting their services as advertisements when search results are displayed on the Google search engine.

The Court said that the use of the mark ‘MakeMyTrip’ as a keyword through Google Ads Program by one of its major competitors, Booking.com is infringing use under Sections 2(2)(b), 29(4)(c), 29(6)(d), 29(7) and 29(8)(a) of the Act. It is now well settled in India that use of a registered mark by competitors even as metatags would be infringement, though the same may be invisible to a user as held in DRS Logistics.

Read order here.

The British School’: Delhi High Court Directs Sanjay Gandhi Educational Society To Change Name Of 4 Schools Infringing Trademark

While dealing with a trademark infringement suit filed by the British School Society over the mark ‘The British School’, the Delhi High Court has directed changing of names of four schools run by Sanjay Gandhi Educational Society, purportedly using identical name.

The Court observed that the continued use of the mark ‘The British School’ for schools of Defendants would constitute misrepresentation in the course of rendering educational services to the effect that their schools are in some way connected or affiliated with the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff was the British School Society running The British School in New Delhi, attached to the High Commission of the United Kingdom. Defendant No.1 was the Sanjay Gandhi Educational Society based in Panchkula, Haryana which runs four schools under the name ‘The British School’ in Punjab and Haryana viz., Mohali, Panchkula, Chandigarh, Firozpur.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court restrains website from using trademark of Hindustan Times

The Delhi High Court restrained a website by the name ‘Hindustan Times Marathi’ from using a logo, mark or domain name that was deceptively similar to that of Hindustan Times.

The Court said that a prima facie case was made out in favour of ex parte ad-interim injunction and the balance of convenience was also in favour of the plaintiff. The Court also directed that the website ‘www.hindustantimesmarathi.com’ be suspended and/ or blocked by internet service providers.

The Court has issued summons to the defendants asking them to file its response within a month, the case will now be heard on August 25th.

Delhi High Court awards 2 lakhs damages & over 9 lakhs cost in the Starbucks Trademark Infringement case

The Single Judge Bench headed by Justice Jyoti Singh while dealing with the suit filed by Starbucks Corporation regarding the infringement of its registered trademark “FRAPPUCINO” has awarded Rs. 2 lakhs damages and Rs. 9,60,100 in favour of Starbucks Corporation.

The Petitioner sought a decree of permanent injunction restraining the Defendant, Teaquilla, from infringing its registered trademark either alone or with any prefix or suffix or any other confusing and deceptively similar trademark in relation to their goods, services and business as well as passing off.

The order of the Court dated 7th April, 2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court grants an ex-parte injunction against the use of the trademark ‘Mirinda’

The Bench of Justice Jyoti Singh granted an ex-parte injunction in favour of Pepsico against a liquor company allegedly using their mark “Mirinda”. The Plaintiff claimed to have been using the mark since 1959 and the earliest registration of the mark in India dates back to 1997. The Defendant applied for registration of the mark “Continental Mirinda Beer” in relation to country-made liquor.

The order of the Court dated 6th May, 2022 can be accessed here.

The Delhi High Court grants Burger King an ex-parte ad interim injunction (see here and order here)

Recently, the Delhi High Court granted an ex parte ad interim injunction in favor of ‘BURGER KING’ in its trademark infringement suit against the defendants. The Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were misusing its registered trademarks, registering infringing domain names incorporating the trademark ‘BURGER KING,’ and operating fake websites without its permission and authorization. Along with injunction, the Court also ordered the domain names www.burgerkingfranchises.co.in and www.burgerkingfranchises.in to be blocked and disabled.

INTA Releases ‘Report on the Taxation of Trademarks and Complementary Rights in Europe’ (see here)

INTA recently released its Report during the Association’s 2022 Annual Meeting Live+ on the Taxation of Trademarks and Complementary Rights in Europe, focusing on the tax implications within the trademark life cycle in the European Union, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It provides brand legal practitioners with a clear understanding of tax policy as it relates to trademark and complementary rights issues, and a framework to strengthen their collaboration with tax professionals.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court restrains two journalists from using ‘CNN’ mark on social media, TV

Recently, the Delhi High Court granted a permanent injunction in favour Cable News Network (CNN) restraining two journalists from using the mark CNN for their news service on social media platforms and TV. The Court further said that the use of the said mark was done because the journalists were aware of the reputation and goodwill of the said mark.

Coke Studio vs Cook Studio:

A suit was filed by one Nikhil Chawla, proprietor of the firm trading as ‘The Chawla Group’ and is stated to be running a popular online platform called ‘COOK STUDIO’ which engages in blogging and production of video films relating to cooking. The said suit sought declaration of non-infringement of the registered trademark ‘COKE STUDIO’, a music platform.

The suit has now been settled in mediation. The Delhi High Court had issued summons in the suit to TCCC and the parties were referred to mediation before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre. As per the settlement, Chawla will now adopt the mark ‘Cook Pro 6’ and shall abandon the mark ‘Cook Studio’.

The order of the court dated September 12, 2022 can be accessed here.

Karim’s v. Kareem’s: Delhi High Court Restrains Businessman From Infringing Trademark Of Old Delhi’s Mughlai Food Outlet

Coming to the aid of Old Delhi’s popular Mughlai food outlet “Karim’s”, the Delhi High Court has restrained Mumbai based businessman Kareem Dhanani from opening any further restaurants under deceptively similar marks, till August 8.

Justice Prathibha M. Singh further directed Dhanani to ensure that in the restaurants run by him or by his franchises, no representation is made to to the customers that it is associated with the Karim’s at Jama Masjid.

The order further stated:

  • Two public notice shall be issued in prominent newspapers having circulation in Maharashtra and in North India that the defendant’s restaurant is not associated with the Plaintiff’s – KARIM HOTEL PVT LTD or KARIM/KARIM’S/KAREEM Restaurant from Jama Masjid or Delhi.
  • All the advertisements and promotional materials, menu cards, etc. including all promotions on social media and online platforms, shall carry a prominent disclaimer to the following effect: “No connection with KARIM’S Jama Masjid/Delhi”.

Delhi High Court imposes ₹25 lakh costs on website for infringing trademark of legendary film ‘Sholay’

The Delhi High Court has said that “Sholay” is the title of an “iconic film,” which, as a mark, cannot be held to be devoid of protection and restrained the use of the film title by persons alleged to be misappropriating the same.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, while dealing with a trademark lawsuit stated that titles and films are capable of being recognised under the trademark law. The judge noted that the case was contested for over 20 years and the adoption of the mark ‘Sholay’ by the defendants for selling the DVD of the film on their website etc was ‘clearly mala fide and dishonest’ and awarded Rs 25 lakh as costs.

Diageo Gets Mixed Verdict, No Damages In Whiskey-Bottle Trademark Row

A Manhattan jury found that the design of a Connecticut company’s bourbon does not infringe Diageo North America’s Bulleit trademark rights.

The jury also ruled in part for Diageo, affirming that the Bulleit bottle was entitled to trademark protection and that W.J. Deutsch & Sons’ Redemption bourbon bottle design diluted its distinctiveness. However, it did not award Diageo any damages.

But the jury cleared Deutsch from Diageo’s claim that Deutsch infringed the Bulleit bottle trademark by creating a high risk of consumer confusion. The case is Diageo North America Inc v. W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:17-cv-04259.

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 its 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.

Delhi High Court rules in favour of ‘Voltas’ in trademark infringement suit [Voltas Ltd. v. Ashok Kumar & Ors.]

A vacation bench of the Delhi High Court has ordered suspension of the domain name ‘www.myvoltascare.com’ in a trademark infringement suit filed by Voltas, a home appliance company. The Court also blocked access to the said website. Further, the Court restrained the owner of the domain name from using the well-known and registered trademark VOLTAS and its logo.

Gujarat High Court issues notice to Microsoft in an appeal by Azure Knowledge Corporation Pvt. Ltd.

The Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to Microsoft after a local information technology company, Azure Knowledge Corporation Pvt. Ltd. has filed an appeal against the tech-giant, Microsoft. The appeal sought restraining the US Company from using the trademark ‘Azure’. The issue reached the Gujarat High Court after a city civil court refused to grant an interim injunction and retrain Microsoft from using the trademark ‘Azure’ on the request of Azure Knowledge Corporation Pvt. Ltd.

If essential features of the registered trademark are infringed, the difference in layout, packaging, etc is of no consequence

In a suit filed by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. the court held that in an action for infringement of a trademark once it is shown that essential features of the trademark are adopted by the defendant, the difference in layout, packaging, etc. would be of no consequence.

The court held that the mark RANBAXY LABORATORIES is visually, phonetically, structurally identical to the trademark RANBAXY and RANBAXY LABORATORIES LIMITED and the goods being pharmaceuticals products in class 5 are also identical.

The Court further held that a case for infringement of trademark under Section 29(2)(c) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 is made out as the identity of the trademark and the goods and services covered under it are similar and the same is likely to cause confusion on the part of public.

The Court awarded Rs. 6,00,000/- as the Cost.

Coca-Cola loses as court refuses to cancel US trademark of Thums Up

In a major setback for Coca-Cola, a federal appeals court in the US has ruled that the company’s sales of Thums Up and Limca in India and other countries did not justify cancelling another company’s US trademarks for soft drinks with the same name.

Coca-Cola does not sell the drinks widely in America and did not demonstrate any lost sales from Meenaxi’s products, the court said. Sales of the drinks by third-party importers also did not establish standing for the company under trademark law.

Delhi High Court permanently restrains the use of ‘Facebake’ and other Facebook formative marks

In a trademark infringement suit, the Single Judge Bench headed by Justice Navin Chawla has permanently restrained the use of marks, ‘facebake’, ‘facecake’, Facebook marks, Facebook Visual Presentation and any other Facebook formative trademarks of the tech-giant, Meta Platforms, Inc., erstwhile Facebook.

The court also awarded nominal charges of Rs. 50,000 along with the cost of the suit in favour of Meta. The matter came to the Court after Meta filed trademark infringement case against ‘Facebake” for allegedly mimicking the visual presentation by copying the color scheme, font, commercial impression and overall look and feel of Facebook.

The decision of the Court dated July 06, 2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court observes the need for a mechanism for trademark owners to seek cancellation/transfer of objectionable domain names

Justice Pratibha Singh of Delhi High Court has observed that the Domain Name Registrars must create a mechanism which allows trademark owners who have an objection to the registration granted to any domain name, can approach the Registrars and seek cancellation or transfer of the same.

The court further observed that this mechanism ought to be fairly considered and ought to be independent and impartial, for ex., through an Ombudsman. The observation comes in the light of the suit filed by Snapchat Private Limited seeking permanent injunction restraining the infringement of trademarks, passing off, unfair trade practices, damages and other reliefs.

The decision of the court dated July 13, 2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi HC restrains unauthorised use of Meesho trademarks by rogue websites

In a significant order, the Delhi High Court has recognised Meesho as a “well-known mark” and issued substantive directions to curb bad actors engaging in fraudulent activities by registering dummy websites. SoftBank-backed Meesho said the court has directed domain name registrars to ensure that no other such fake website with the well-known mark ‘Meesho’ is registered using their services.

The order was issued in response to a suit filed by Fashnear Technologies Private Limited (Meesho) asking for a permanent injunction on rogue websites that were using Meesho’s trademarks and/or copyright to defraud and dupe unsuspecting and gullible members of the general public.

Read order here.

Threshold For Extending Exclusive Rights To Shape Of A Product Quite High In Trademark Law

The Delhi High Court has observed that in the law of trade marks, the threshold for extending exclusive rights to the shape of a product, is quite high.

The Court was of the view that for trade mark registration of shape of a product, the same can only be granted if it has acquired a secondary meaning.

The Court was dealing with an appeal challenging the impugned order dated 26th September, 2019 passed by the Senior Examiner of Trade Marks by which the trademark application for the registration of shape of a knitting needle in Class 26 in respect of ‘knitting needles and crochet hooks’ was rejected.

The application was found to be objectionable under sec. 9(1)(a) and 9(1)(b) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the mark was found to be devoid of any distinctive character by the Senior Examiner.

The Court reiterated that in order for a shape trademark to be registered, it has to be shown that the said shape is not the generic shape of the product.

Read order here.

‘Cadbury Gems’ vs ‘James Bond’ – Delhi High Court grants ₹16 lakh damages to Cadbury for trademark infringement (here) – The Court recently settled a more than 16 years old dispute wherein Mondelez India Foods Private Limited, (earlier formerly known as Cadbury India Limited) filed a suit alleging that infringement by Neeraj Food Products’ chocolate product named ‘James Bond’ with an identical color scheme, layout, and arrangement as that of its ‘Cadbury Gems’ or ‘Gems’ products. Favoring the plaintiff, the Court noted that “The ‘GEMS’ product is also usually consumed by small children, both in urban and rural areas. The test in such a matter is not that of absolute confusion. Even the likelihood of confusion is sufficient. A comparison of the defendant’s infringing product and the packaging thereof leaves no manner of doubt that the same is a complete knock-off, of the plaintiffs’ ‘CADBURY GEMS’,” (read Eashan Gosh’s analysis here).

KHADI logo/trademark offered protection on multiple instances

  • Delhi High Court says KHADI trademark cannot be used [Khadi & Village Industries Commission v. Raman Gupta & Ors.]

The Delhi High Court recently said that defendants using logo of Charkha and trademark Khadi by Heritage cannot be condoned. The Delhi High Court further said that sale of PPE Kits, hand sanitizers, masks etc. by Khadi by Heritage using the logo of Charkha would result in irreparable loss to the plaintiff. Consequently, the Court awarded damages to the plaintiff amounting to Rs. 10 lakhs and Rs. 2 lakhs as costs to the plaintiff as the defendants were infringing upon the plaintiff’s registered trademark.

  • Bombay High Court restrains Mumbai Khadi and Village Industries Association from using the mark/logo “KHADI”

The Bombay High Court, in a suit filed by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, restrained the Defendants from using the mark/logo “KHADI”. The plaint stated that the Defendant has been using the impugned marks consisting of the work “KHADI” and the depiction of the “CHARKHA” logo.

Theos v. Theobroma: Delhi High Court helps the parties to amicably settle the trademark dispute

The two popular confectionary brands reached an amicable settlement over the use of trademark THEOS. While helping the brands to reach a settlement certain terms and conditions were set out by the Hon’ble Court. For instance, Theobroma shall be free to expand its business across the country. Theos shall not be allowed to make any online sales outside the Delhi-NCR region under the mark THEOS.

Read judgment here.

Delhi High Court grants Interim Injunction against Flipkart

The Delhi High Court while passing an interim injunction against E-commerce giant, Flipkart said that a third-party seller cannot be permitted to ‘latch on’ to a Best Seller’s name or trademark. This is because this amounts to ‘riding piggyback’, constituting passing off. Thus, it was held by the Court that Flipkart allowed third-party sellers to latch on the Plaintiff’s trademark and shall be liable to be taken down. Further, the Court directed Flipkart to ensure that this feature of latching on is disabled by the website before the next date of hearing.

Read order here.

House Of Zana Boutique Owner Wins Trademark Row With Zara

Zara had argued there was a ‘high degree of visual and oral similarities’ between the two brands, but the tribunal found the link was ‘too insubstantial’.

Nicki Minaj ‘Barbie-Que’ Chip Maker Hit With Mattel Trademark Lawsuit

Mattel Inc sued the maker of Rap Snacks in Los Angeles federal court, alleging its Nicki Minaj-branded “Barbie-Que Honey Truffle” potato chips violate Mattel’s trademark rights in the famous Barbie doll.

The toy maker asked the court for an order blocking Rap Snacks from using the “Barbie” name, as well as money damages including profits from “Barbie-Que” sales.

Peppa Pig Owners Lose Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Moscow City Court ruled “on the protection of exclusive rights to the characters of the animated work ‘Svinka Peppa’ (‘Peppa Pig’). From this definition, it can be concluded no breach of intellectual property rights has been linked to Sconnect’s ‘Wolfoo’ set of characters against EO’s ‘Peppa Pig’ set of characters; while affirming that under the Russian law, EO is unable to file a claim with the same demand against Sconnect in the future.”

US popstar Mariah Carey gets embroiled in a trademark dispute

The US singer and pop sensation, Mariah Carey, has been involved in a trademark dispute for attempting to register the term, “Queen of Christmas” as trademark for exclusive use. The application shows that she has sought for registration of the trademark to use it on products ranging from music to perfume to sunglasses and coconut milk. This attempt has been opposed by other US holiday singers who have spent decades spreading goodwill at Christmas times.

Chanel is aiming to register the to register the shape of its No. 5 fragrance bottle as a trademark

Popular luxury fragrance brand, Chanel, is seeking to register the shape of the bottle of its No. 5 fragrance as a trademark in US, after roughly 100 years of its release. The application for registration has been objected on the grounds that the shape is not inherently distinctive and incapable of creating a commercial impression because Chanel has no distinctive accompanying words with the rectangular shaped perfume bottle container.

Delhi HC fines distillery Rs 20 lakh for infringing ‘Royal Stag’ whiskey trademark

The Delhi High Court has permanently restrained, and imposed a cost of Rs 20 lakh, on Gwalior Distilleries Private Ltd, makers of Royal Champ whiskey, which is deceptively similar to Seagram’s ‘Royal Stag’ whiskey brand over trademark infringement.

Justice Navin Chawla, in the order held that the Gwalior Distilleries was clearly intending to deceive the unwary consumer and to ride on the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiffs.

The Court further held that mere use of the word ‘Champ’ instead of ‘Stag’ is not sufficient to distinguish the two marks, especially when combined with the overall get up of the label. The goods are sold over the counter and an unwary consumer is likely to confuse one for the other.

The court also noted that the label of the defendant is “a colourable and slavish” imitation of the plaintiffs’ Royal Stag label and also amounts to copyright infringement under Section 51 read with Section 55 of the Copyright Act.

As per the suit, the defendant had copied all the features that collectively distinguish the plaintiff’s trade dress of Royal Stag. The bottle of the defendant has a label affixed upon the front panel, having the same colour combination of cream, burgundy and gold as that of the plaintiffs’ Royal Stag label.

After going through the detailed submissions and referring to various judgements, the court held that since the goods of the plaintiffs and defendant are identical, that is whiskey, the mark of the defendant is deceptively similar to that of the plaintiffs. The test to be applied for judging the claim of infringement and passing off is of an unwary consumer with average intelligence and imperfect recollection.

Accordingly, the court decreed the defendant to pay to the plaintiff a sum of Rs 20 lakh as damages and costs of the suit.

Trademark ‘Amul’ gets protection even against non-competing goods, and services:

  • The Order of Calcutta High Court for usage of AMUL in respect of candles

In the case of Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd. vs Maa Tara Trading Co, the Plaintiffs alleged infringement of trademark and passing off of its mark AMUL and highlighted that on several occasions consumers have been duped by defendants. Accordingly, the Court noted that: “This Court is of the view that the defendants have tried to dupe the general public by using of an identical mark “AMUL” in respect of candles in violation of statutory rights as well as the common law rights of the plaintiffs. Such usage would inevitably lead to loss of revenue as also that of goodwill. Accordingly, the defendants have indulged into the offence of passing off. The defendants have infringed the registered trademark of the plaintiff as well as committed the torts of passing off”.

  • Subsequently, the Delhi High Court also ordered delisting of cookware being sold under the brand ‘Amul’

The Delhi High Court ordered delisting of the cookware being sold under the brand name ‘Amul’ by Maruti Metals from the e-commerce platforms in a trademark infringement suit filed by the manufacturers of popular dairy brand, AMUL. Noting that AMUL is a well-known mark, the Court further held that the existing packaging under the impugned mark to be kept with the Defendant and shall be destroyed.

The Order of the Court dated October 28, 2022 can be accessed here.

‘Dominick Pizza’ can confuse people into “Domino’s Pizza”

In a case where, Domino’s sought the protection of its mark ‘Domino’s Pizza’, its device mark, and logo as well as the marks’ Cheese Burst’ and ‘Pasta Italiano’ against “Dominick Pizza” from advertising, selling or marketing any product or any documentation using or displaying the impugned marks’ Dominick Pizza’, ‘Cheese Burst’ and ‘Pasta Italiano’. Also, the Delhi HC ordered the pizzeria to suspend its domain names, i.e., dominickpizza.com and dominickpizzas.com. (See here)

Sun Pharma’s trademark infringement case against Hetero’s breast cancer drug dismissed by the Delhi High Court

In (appeal) case by Sun Pharma, the Delhi High Court observed that “Sun, in the present case, cannot be allowed to monopolize the INN ‘Letrozole’. The mark, ‘Letroz’, is not similar to the trademark ‘Letero’ merely because both the parties have adopted the initial letters (Sun adopted the first six and Hetero adopted the first three) of the INN ‘Letrozole’”. For unversed, as per the WHO – International Nonproprietary Names (INN) facilitate the identification of pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients. Each INN is a unique name that is globally recognized and is public property. A non-proprietary name is also known as a generic name. (see here)

Delhi HC: Infringement suit filed by CHAAYOS against Ghaziabad start-up for use of the impugned mark ‘CHAIOPS’ settled.

Anticipating possibility of amicable resolution, the Delhi High Court has referred to mediation, the trademark dispute between ‘CHAAYOS’ (Cafe Chain) and ‘CHAIOPS’ (Cafe selling Tea Products) to Mediation.

Justice Pratibha M. Singh was hearing a suit filed by Sunshine Teahouse Pvt. Ltd for permanent injunction, restraining the infringement of trademarks and unauthorised use of trade names etc. of ‘CHAAYOS’ and ‘CHAIOPS’

Plaintiff’s brand ‘CHAAYOS’ was founded and began operations in 2012, and claimed to be the leading chain of Chai Cafes in India, that provides customised Chai in a variety of flavors. It also claims to have a huge online delivery system as well along with with more than 200 outlets across the country

It alleged that the defendant adopted the mark ‘CHAIOPS’ for selling tea products through a cafe under the name and style of ‘CHAIOPS’.

Plaintiff claims that the defendant used the trademark ‘CHAIOPS’ for products and services that are identical to its services and products, and is in violation of the registered trademark ‘CHAAYOS’.

Court noted that there is no similarity in the device and logo of the parties. “The only issue between the parties is over the phonetic/ocular similarity of ‘CHAAYOS’ and ‘CHAIOPS’ marks”, the court added. Subsequently, after the mediation proceedings, the Ghaziabad startup changed its mark ‘CHAIOPS’ to ‘ChaiApps’.

Trademark: Delhi High Court grants interim relief to ‘SOCIAL’ restaurant chain, restrains Jharkhand based restaurant ‘SOCIAL 75’ from using its trademark

Granting ex-parte ad-interim injunction in favour of famous restaurant and bar chain ‘SOCIAL’, the Delhi High Court has restrained a Jharkhand based restaurant from using its registered trademark ‘SOCIAL’.

The Court also directed SOCIAL 75 to remove all references from third party websites, where its services are sold, offered or advertised.

The suit was filed by Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Private Limited against Social 75, a restaurant situated in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, claiming that the intent to use the impugned trademark was to indicate to the consumers that ‘SOCIAL’ has opened its 75th Outlet in Jamshedpur and thereby attempting to encash upon the goodwill and reputation of the ‘SOCIAL’ trademark.

It was claimed that Social was a prior adopter and user of its registered trademark ‘SOCIAL’ and its variants and use of the impugned mark SOCIAL 75 amounted to infringement under Section 29 of the Indian Trademarks Act.

Having heard the parties, the Court ordered ‘Having heard learned counsel for the Plaintiff, this Court is of the view that Plaintiff has made out a prima facie case for grant of ex parte ad-interim injunction, as the impugned trademark is deceptively similar to the registered trademark of the Plaintiff. Balance of convenience lies in favour of the Plaintiff and it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in case the injunction, as prayed for, is not granted’.

Louis Vuitton v. Lee Vanz – Sellers to pay Rs 1 lakhs to the French Company

In the trademark infringement suit filed by the French company, Louis Vuitton against two sellers, Bilal Khan and Javed Khan for using the iconic “LV” mark, the sellers have undertaken to pay litigation cost of Rs. 1 lakh to the company.

The Plaintiff company apprised the Delhi High Court that they had no objection over the use of the trade name Lee Vanz but only the abbreviated mark ‘LV’. The sellers will pay the amount in 5 instalments before January 15, 2023.

The order of the Court dated September 9, 2022 can be accessed here.

Samsung India restrained by Bengaluru Civil Court against the use of Concierge Trademark

A civil court in Bengaluru issued a temporary injunction against the use of the mark ‘Concierge’ by Samsung India and Story Experiences. The mark is claimed by Concierge conglomerate comprising Les Concierges Services Pvt. Ltd. And Club Concierge Services (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Plaintiff claimed that they conceptualized and designed the ‘President Club’ loyalty program for Samsung. However, last year Samsung hired Story Experiences for identical services and started using their registered mark ‘Concierge’.

The order of the Court dated September 13, 2022 can be accessed here.

Delhi High Courts grants ad-interim injunction against use of well-known mark “TATA” and Restrains Foreign Company From Using ‘Tata’ Trademark In Cryptocurrency Trading

TATA Sons Private Limited filed a case before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court seeking ad-interim injunction against the respondents from using the well-known mark of the Appellants “TATA”. The respondents therein were using the said well-known mark as part of the name of their cryptocurrency TATA Coin/$TATA or digital token. Consequently, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court passed an ex-parte ad-interim injunction against the respondents, their partners or proprietors from manufacturing, offering for sale, selling, advertising, supplying or unauthorizedly using the well-known mark TATA.

The appellate court had also asked the company and domain name registrar to take down the two websites www.hakunamatata.finance and www.tatabonus.com.

Delhi High Court restrains EUROSPORT from using STAR device being deceptively similar to STAR TV

In a case filed by Star Televisions Productions Limited (‘plaintiff’) seeking permanent injunction to restrain EUROSPORT (‘defendants’) from infringing ‘STAR mark’ ‘STAR Device’/trademark belonging to the plaintiffs, Justice Asha Menon allowed the application and granted interim injunction against defendants from using the impugned mark which is identical or deceptively similar to the Plaintiff’s registered STAR Marks including the STAR Device.

The grievance of the plaintiffs is that the defendants have recently renamed their sports channel which was known as DSPORT with the logo of a globe, i.e. to EUROSPORT using the STAR marks in relation to their sports television channels. the brand EUROSPORT was given a facelift and the impugned mark was resultantly adopted in 2015 in order to enhance and modernize EUROSPORT’s visual appeal.

The court has held that the continued dishonest use of the Single Star by the defendants would cause irreparable loss and injury to the plaintiffs particularly, by diluting the unique use of the word “STAR” which is a created word. The balance of convenience lies in favour of the plaintiff as they have built up a strong reputation in India over a long period of time, whereas the defendants have just entered the market in 2017 as EUROSPORT.

ApplesTree vs ApplePlant: Delhi High Court

Interpreting synonymy in a matter related to two similar trademarks – APPLESTREE and APPLEPLANT, which belong to different manufacturers, the Delhi High Court in a recent order said the words ‘plant’ and ‘tree’ are a classic example of synonymy where reading one would bring in mind the other and lead to confusion in the mind of purchasers.

The court passed an interim injunction restraining the sale, advertisement or promotion of any product under the mark ‘APPLEPLANT’ or any other mark deceptively similar to ‘APPLESTREE’ in the suit. The court further said that the mark NUAPPLEPLANT is deceptively similar to the mark APPLESTREE when compared and seen visually.

The adoption of the impugned trademark is prima facie dishonest, said the court. It further noted that the impugned proprietor has not been able to give a plausible explanation as to how he came across and decided to use the mark APPLE as a part of its trademark, considering that the word has no association with the products in question such as abrasive papers.

The court also said that the addition of the prefix ‘Nu’ to the impugned trademark cannot take away the semantic similarity of the two competing marks and make them distinguishable.

The Court underscored the study of semantic theory and noted that “”Synonymy would cover the semantic field where words have nearly the same meanings such that they can be interchanged in some degree and most common cases under this head are of relative synonymy as it is difficult to find words which are absolute synonyms of each other,” said Justice Jyoti Singh”.

Note – This can be an interesting case to look at the semiotics relationship with trademark law. Those interested may look at Barton Beebe’s “The Semiotic Analysis of Trademark Law” and David Tan’s Cultural (Re)Codings: Copyright, Trademarks and the Right of Publicity

“Rajnigandha is a Well-Known Trademark” says the Delhi High Court in a case between Rajnigandha vs Rajnipaan.

The Delhi Court passed a decree in favour of the manufacturers of the pan masala Rajnigandha and permanently restrained the production, sale or promotion of any product under the trademark ‘RAJNI PAAN’. The Court noted that “The packaging of the impugned product has been designed in an identical colour scheme, font and labels, to give an overall look and feel of the Plaintiffs’ products under the RAJNIGANDHA marks . . . has been done intentionally to trade off the significant goodwill and reputation of the Plaintiffs in their RAJNIGANDHA marks. It is obvious that there is a dishonest adoption by the Defendants and Plaintiffs have made out a case of infringement and passing off.”

The Delhi High Court furtherawarded damages amounting to Rs. 3 lakhs to manufacturers of Rajnigandha Pan Masala.

The Judgement of the Court dated September 27, 2022 can be accessed here.

Sadar Bazar trader to pay INR 5 Lakh To Aero Group for selling counterfeit Woodland products

The Delhi High Court permanently restrained a trader in Sardar Bazar from manufacturing and selling counterfeit products under the brandname Woodland products and directed it to pay Aeroclub (parent company) INR 5 Lakh within three months.

Read more about it here.

Ninety Nine V Ninety One Bicycles- Delhi High Court restrains manufacturing of Ninety Nine Bicycles for being deceptively similar to Ninety One Bicycles.

The Court held that the competing marks can easily be confused and the same can indicate a form of affiliation or sponsorship. Observing that bicycles are bought by a large swath of population which could also include semi-illiterate persons, consumers may be deceived to believe that both bicycles originate from the same manufacturer and the marks NINETY NINE/99 and NINETY ONE/91are series marks.

Read more about it here.

Delhi High Court Restrains Rajasthan-based Restaurant From Using ‘Sadda Pind’ Name

“The Plaintiff has made out a prima facie case in its favour for grant of an ex-parte interim injunction. Accordingly, till the next date of hearing, the Defendant shall stand restrained from using the mark & name ‘SADDA PIND’ including the device thereof in respect of any resort/restaurant, accommodation, hotel and entertainment venue or in relation to any other allied or cognate services. The Defendant shall also stand restrained from using any identical or deceptively similar name as that of the Plaintiff i.e., ‘SADDA PIND’,” Justice Prathiba M. Singh said in the order.

PhonePe Trademark Suit: Madras High Court Temporarily Restrains MobilePe From Providing BHIM/ UPI Services

Justice M Sundar passed the interim order after prima facie satisfaction that a case of deception has been made out by PhonePe, which is in similar business. The Court said that instead of a side by side comparison, it stepped into the shoes of an average man with “ordinary prudence” “and “imperfect recollection” and found a prima facie case of deception against MobilePe.

The Court however made it clear that MobilePe and its related companies can continue with all other business activities presently carried out by them including wallet recharge services.

NATURALS v NIC Natural: Delhi HC restrains NIC Natural ice creams from using NATURALS trademark

A single judge bench of Justice Jyoti Singh on October 19 granted an “ex parte ad interim injunction” in favour of the plaintiffs Siddhant Ice Creams LLP & others, holding that they had made out a “prima facie case for grant of the injunction” that the “balance of convenience also lies in their favour” and if the injunction is not granted the plaintiffs are likely to “suffer irreparable loss”

Granting the injunction the HC held that till the next date of hearing the ‘NIC Natural Ice Creams’ were restrained from using the plaintiffs’ marks ‘NATURAL’, ‘NATURALS’ or using ‘NIC Natural Ice Creams’, ‘NIC’, in any form or manner, including any marks identical or deceptively similar, or from adopting same colours, trade dress and packaging for their products so as to amount to passing off”.

The HC further restrained the defendants from using the domain names ‘nicicecreams.com,’ ‘nicnaturalicecreams.com’ or any other domain name, email address or handle containing the mark NATURAL in it. The HC also restrained the defendants from using the plaintiffs’ marks ‘NATURAL’ or ‘NATURALS’ as “metatags” or purchasing the same as keywords under Google’s AdWords programme to advertise their products.

Delhi High Court holds that a Trademark’s monetary value can be estimated from the investment made by the Proprietor in its publicity and reputation building

The Delhi High Court recently held that a trademark, apart from identifying the source of goods, also acts as an investment function. The function is to preserve the investments made by a proprietor of a trademark in publicity and building up its reputation. Therefore, it acquires a value which can be estimated in monetary terms, thereby, making the trademark a valuable asset.

The judgement of the Court dated October 27, 2022 can be accessed here.

Telangana High Court holds that only PepsiCo has the exclusive right to use Mountain Dew mark

The Telangana High Court set aside the order of the Civil Court and held that only PepsiCo has the exclusive right to use the Mountain Dew mark. The Court restrained the Defendant from using the Mountain Dew mark for its packaged drinking water bottles.

The trial court had held that PepsiCo’s rights over the impugned mark were not exclusive as the Defendant was first to use the label and thus, had rights to use the mark especially when the goods were different.

Delhi High Court restrains Kolkata based law firm from using an identical logo

Observing that lawyers have added responsibility and duty to ensure that they do not imitate or adopt a name or logo already in use by other offering similar services, the Delhi High Court restrained Kolkata based lawyer, Swarupa Ghosh, from using the logo for her chambers that was almost identical to Delhi based IP law firm, Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys.

The Defendant was using an identical stylized manner for her logo. The injunction will come into play from January 01, 2023. The Court further mentioned that the Defendant can amicably resolve the issue by adopting an alternative logo.

The Order of the Court dated October 19, 2022 can be accessed here.

Meta has successfully defended its new logo in a trademark lawsuit.

Meta Platforms Inc, which changed its name from Facebook Inc in October 2021, has denied that its blue ‘infinity’ logo has been stolen. On Thursday, November 9, a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed Dfinity Foundation’s complaint, which argued that Meta’s emblem may lead to consumer confusion with its own brand. According to US District Judge Charles Breyer, the logos’ varied designs and targeted audiences were sufficient to avoid misinterpretation. Breyer also allowed Dfinity the ability to amend its complaint. Facebook rebranded as Meta in 2021 to reflect its new focus on the’metaverse.’ Its new logo incorporates both the word ‘M’ and an infinity symbol, signifying that the metaverse offers limitless possibilities.

The Bombay High Court has refused to quash an interim injunction granted to Mumbai’s Haji Ali Juice Centre in a trademark infringement case.

According to the Court, the defendants’ mark seems to be identical and deceptively similar to the registered marks used by Haji Ali Juice Centre. The plaintiff’s mark was registered, and the defendants’ mark was deceptively similar to it, according to Justice Manish Pitale. The plaintiff filed one to prolong the relief, while the defendant filed one to vacate the ruling granting the reliefs. Following that, it learned that the plaintiff was fighting abuse of its registered trademark by filing suit long before the current case, showing that there had been examples of establishments utilising identical or deceptively similar marks to the plaintiff’s registered trademark. As a result, the Court decided that the defendants’ alleged suppression of information on the plaintiff’s side was untenable. On the surface, the Court decided that the defendant’s infringing mark was likely to induce consumer misunderstanding. On this basis, the plaintiff was found to meet all of the conditions for awarding interim relief.

Delhi HC Permanently Restrains Raipur Company From Selling Counterfeit ‘Daawat’ Products, Awards ₹25 Lakhs Damages To Basmati Rice Brand

In a trademark infringement suit filed by manufacturers of “Daawat” (A popular basmati rice brand), the Delhi High Court has permanently restrained a Raipur company from selling counterfeit Daawat products.

Justice Pratibha M Singh observed that Saraswati Trading Company, based in Chattisgarh’s Raipur city, is using a “counterfeit packaging” identical to Daawat brand wherein it is selling Jawaphool Rice and portraying it as Basmati Rice.

“These are goods for human consumption. Considering the Plaintiff’s reputation and the fact that ‘DAAWAT’ is a well-known mark in India, the suit is liable to be decreed,” the court said.

The court further added that there can be “no justification” for manufacturing and selling rice in counterfeit ‘DAAWAT’ branded packaging, adding that customers were being misled by the Raipur-based company in a deliberate and dishonest manner.

The court thus decreed the suit filed by LT Foods Limited seeking permanent injunction against Saraswati Trading Company for infringement of its registered marks ‘DAWAT’ and ‘DAAWAT’ and awarded damages of Rs. 25 Lakhs and costs in favour of the Plaintiff.

Read order here.

M-seal vs R-seal: Bombay High Court Grants Interim Relief To Pidilite In Trademark Infringement Suit

Granting interim relief to Pidilite Industries Limited, the Bombay High Court restrained Riya Chemy from using the mark ‘R-Seal’ or any other mark similar to Pidilite’s ‘M-Seal’ mark, in a trademark and copyright infringement suit.

Justice R. I. Chaglaheld that prima facie, the defendant secured the registration of the mark ‘R-Seal’ fraudulently by concealing the existence of the plaintiff’s prior registered marks from the Registrar of Trade Marks.

Further, the plaintiff’s mark comes with a disclaimer on the use of the word ‘Seal’ whereas the defendant’s registration both as device and word mark have no such disclaimers. Therefore, plaintiff cannot claim exclusivity on the mark, Ramakrishnan argued.

Observing that the plaintiff acquired the mark together with its goodwill in2000, the court said it is entitled to claim all statutory and common law rights from the first usage of the marks by its predecessors i.e., from1968.

The bench said that the two rival marks cannot co-exist without causing confusion and deception of the public at large and without violating the rights of the plaintiff.

It rejected the defendant’s contention that its business will shut down if an injunction is granted, noting that the defendant has other products.

Read order here.

Fancode TM Infringement Case: Delhi High Court Grants Interim Injunction In Favour Of Dream 11 In Trademark Infringement Suit

The Delhi High Court has granted ad interim ex parte injunction in favour of the owners of Dream11 in respect of their online sports platform FanCode in a trademark infringement suit against ‘FanCode 11’ website.

The plaintiffs alleged that in September, 2022, they came across the impugned website www.fancode11.com and the mobile application ‘Fancode11’ and the use of the marks by the defendants. They alleged that the adoption of the mark ‘Fancode11’ and other impugned marks by the defendant is dishonest inasmuch as he has intentionally mixed the two marks of the plaintiffs, including their colour scheme. The plaintiffs further alleged that even the look-and-feel of the mobile application of the defendant is similar to that of the plaintiffs, thereby leading to a possibility of deception. The Plaintiff further submitted that as far as the You-tube channel is concerned, the defendant uses the mark ‘FANKODE11’ and that the mere replacement of the alphabet ‘C’ by “K’ in ‘FanCode’ would not be sufficient to distinguish the two marks.

Delhi High Court grants over 2 CR to Adobe in Trademark Infringement Case

The Delhi High Court, while hearing a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by Namase Patel over Adobe’s name, has granted over Rs 2 crore as damages to the US-based computer software company.

Patel and others associated with him have been restrained from registering any domain name with the trademarks ‘Adobe’, ‘Photoshop’, or ‘Spark’, which could be considered an infringement of the company’s marks. The accused had registered similar domain names for various computer software and other IT-related services.

The Court took note that the accused stands recognised even in foreign jurisdictions, as being an inveterate and habitual cyber-squatter and domain name infringer and directed that Adobe shall be entitled to the required amount of damages of INR 2,00,01,000 as claimed in the suit.

 

Delhi High Court restrains Telengana based Vistara News Network from using the trademark

The Delhi High Court has passed the interim order after Tata SIA Airlines, the owners of Vistara Airlines, filed a trademark infringement suit against the owners of the news channel.

Tata SIA approached the Court stating that it is the registered proprietor of the trademark ‘Vistara’ and has an exclusive right to use and protect the same from infringement by third parties. Counsels of the airline, told the Court that being a declared well-known trademark, Vistara is entitled to the highest degree of protection and further  argued that the Vistara News has dishonestly copied the trademark in its entirety and can have no plausible reason to adopt it.

The bench of Justice Jyoti Singh passed the order noting that a prima facie case was made out by Tata SIA and the balance of convenience lay in it’s favour. The airline could suffer irreparable harm in case the injunction was not granted.

Delhi HC Holds Sadar Bazar Trader Guilty Of Contempt For Continuing To Sell Louis Vuitton Products

The Delhi High Court has held a Sadar Bazar trader guilty of contempt for violating its restraining order by continuing to sell the belts of famous French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

Justice C. Hari Shankar in the order dated December 2 said the counsel representing Ansari Belt House has acknowledged the fact that, despite the passing of the interim directions in the order dated September 23, the trader continued to deal in the infringing products.

Justice Shankar listed the case for considering the aspect of sentencing on February 02, 2023.

The court also issued bailable warrants against another trader Polo Belt for breaching the restraining order, while recording that neither any response has been filed by him to the application alleging breach of the September 23 order nor is he present before the court.

Delhi High Court restrains the use of “Whitehat Sr” in a trademark infringement suit

In a suit filed by Whitehat Education Technology Private Limited, the Delhi High Court has restrained a digital marketing service provider from using the mark “Whitehat Sr” as it is an infringement of Byju’s “Whitehat Jr”. The plaintiff’s mark was registered in May, 2018 and has acquired the status of well-known owing to the exclusive and extensive use.

The Order of the Court can be accessed here.

Delhi High Court grants relief to Yves Saint Laurent in trademark infringement suit

The Delhi High Court has temporarily restrained a Delhi-based entity Brompton from using the ‘YSL’ and ‘Yves Saint Laurent’ marks owned by fashion company Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). Justice Sanjeev Narula held that the balance of convenience was in favour of the plaintiff (YSL) and if the defendants were not restrained, the plaintiff (YSL) would suffer irreparable loss. The suit was moved by YSL for infringement of its trademarks, copyrights and for passing off, seeking permanent and mandatory injunction against Brompton, which was allegedly unauthorisedly operating a boutique under plaintiff’s brand name in a mall in New Delhi. YSL informed the Court that it had entered into a franchise agreement with one Beverly Luxury Brands Ltd where the latter was granted a franchise to open and operate a Saint Laurent boutique. YSL stated that although the agreement stood terminated, the boutique was still operational under its name and was being run by one Brompton Lifestyle Brands Pvt Ltd. The Court observed that Brompton also admitted that the supply agreement stood terminated after the termination of franchisee agreement.

Therefore, in view of the Court, Supply Agreement, which forms the sheet anchor of Brompton’s claim of being an ‘authorised operator’ cannot sustain. There is thus no legal basis to allow Brompton to use YSL marks,” it recorded.

Ideal Jawa Owner Of ‘Yezdi’, Stoppage Of Business Doesn’t Affect Rights In Trademarks: Karnataka High Court In Case Against Classic Legends

The Karnataka High Court has declared that Ideal Jawa (India) Ltd is the owner of the mark “Yezdi” (word and device) and that the trademarks of the Company (in liquidation), remain in custodia legis of the court, as they were owned by the company prior to the time of its winding up.

A single judge bench of Justice S R Krishna Kumar has restrained Boman Irani and Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd from using the yesteryears famous motorbike brand mark “Yezdi” or any other mark containing the word “Yezdi”.

Further the bench held that Irani who established Classic Legends with Mahindra & Mahindra for reviving the brand could not have obtained registration of the marks “Yezdi” during the process of winding up of the company. The conduct in obtaining registration of the marks is in bad faith and amounts to misappropriation of the assets of the Company. Accordingly, it held that all trademark, registration certificates issued by Registrar of Trademarks, Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad in favour of Irani are null and void. It has also directed Irani and Classic Legends to pay Rs 10 lakh as costs to the Official Liquidator each, which shall be utilised towards the costs and distribution to be made in the process of winding up of the Company.

The court partly allowed the application filed by the official liquidator and permitted it “to sell all trademarks and such other associated rights in and over the trademarks with all goodwill associated with the mark by public auction.”

BACKGROUND

Boman Irani had got ‘Yezdi’ trademark registered in his favour during 2013-15. Classic Legends was incorporated in 2015, and Boman Irani is one of its directors.

It was contended in court that Boman Irani’s father Rustom S. Irani, who had started Ideal Jawa, owned ‘Yezdi’ name, and hence the mark was acquired by his son after his demise. Boman Irani argued that Ideal Jawa had abandoned the trademark by not renewing it, and hence it was open to anyone to register ‘Yezdi’ before the trademark authority.

However, the court rejected these claims and said that it was the company, Ideal Jawa, which owned the trademark and not Rustom Irani, and Ideal Jawa had not abandoned its trademarks.

The court observed that Boman Irani did not bring the fact of pendency of winding up process to the notice of the registrar of trademarks, and the registrar had not issued a notice to Ideal Jawa before removing the mark from its ownership.

Read order here.

 INTERMEDIARY LIABILITY

Delhi High Court directs Whatsapp to block groups illegally circulating Dainik Bhaskar owned E-newspaper

The Delhi High Court on December 28, 2021 directed Whatsapp to take down groups that were illegally circulating E-newspapers belonging to Dainik Bhaskar Corp. Ltd. Justice Sanjeev Narula was of the opinion that the plaintiff, Dainik Bhaskar has made out a prima facie case and if an ex-parte injunction is not given to the plaintiff then an irreparable loss would be caused to it.

Read order here

Journalist & Founder Of ‘The New Indian’ Aarti Tikoo Moves Delhi High Court Challenging Twitter’s Decision To Lock Her Account

Journalist and Founder of The New Indian’ Aarti Tikoo has moved the Delhi High Court challenging Twitter Inc’s decision to lock her account. It is Tikoo’s case that she had posted a tweet for calling out the actions of ‘Kashmiri Islamists’ on Twitter for threatening her cousin.

According to the plea, on December 14, 2021, Tikoo’s cousin participated in a Twitter Space discussion wherein he was called an ‘Indian Agent’ and other allegations were made against him.

Thereafter the next day, the following tweet was posted by her:

“My brother who lives in Srinagar, being openly threatened by jihadi terrorists sitting in Kashmir-India & their handlers in Pakistan, UK & US. Is anyone watching? Are we sitting ducks waiting to be shot dead by Islamists or will you crackdown on them?”

Twitter had then locked her account the same day.

Referring to the transcripts of the threats issued to her cousin on Twitter, Tikoo has stated in the petition that Twitter’s action of locking her account is violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 inasmuch as it is an impairment of her right to free speech and is arbitrary.

Accordingly, the plea seeks quashing of Twitter’s decision of locking her account apart from deletion of the said tweet.

Search Engines Like Google Not ‘Publishers’ Under Part III Of IT Rules, 2021: Centre Tells Delhi High Court

The Central Government has told the Delhi High Court that search engines like Google are not publishers under Part III of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Section 2(s) of the Rules defines a publisher as a publisher of news and current affairs content or a publisher of online ap curated content.

The Centre through Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has filed a counter affidavit in a plea filed by a CBSE official seeking removal of various links and news items published in the year 2017, regarding the alleged NET answer sheet scam case, after a closure report was filed by the CBI finding no criminal involvement of the officials.

Seeking its deletion from the array of parties, it has been submitted that in place of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; the petitioner should have made the Ministry of Electronics and information Technology as the respondent as the matter fell within its domain.

That search engines like Google etc. come under the purview of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and are governed by the provisions of Information and Technology Act 2000 and Part II of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 notified under this act.

60 YouTube channels blocked for circulating fake news

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha that it had blocked 60 Pakistan-backed YouTube Channels including their social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram which were involved in circulating fake news against the Indian government and were backed by Pakistan.

Delhi High Court directs Twitter to take down tweets made by historian Audrey Truschke

The Delhi High Court on February 24, 2022 directed Twitter to take down tweets made by historian Audrey Truschke in relation to allegations of plagiarism by historian Vikram Sampath in connection to his works on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The Delhi High Court further said that these tweets should be taken down within 48 hours.

The Delhi High Court passed the aforementioned directions in relation to a plea filed by Mr. Sampath which sought that the tweets made by Mr. Truschke be removed from Twitter as they were defamatory.

Kerala High Court rules that the admin of Whatsapp Group shall not be vicariously liable for objectionable post by group members

The Kerala High Court on February 24, 2022 observed that the admin of the Whatsapp group cannot be held vicariously liable if an objectionable content has been posted in the group by any of its member. The Court said

“A vicarious criminal liability can be fastened only by reason of a provision of a statute and not otherwise. In the absence of a special penal law creating vicarious liability, an Admin of a WhatsApp group cannot be held liable for the objectionable post by a group member.”

Read Order here.

Delhi HC asks Twitter to block account of user repeatedly posting objectionable content about Hindu gods and goddesses

The Delhi High Court asked Twitter why it cannot block the account of a user, found to be repeatedly posting objectionable content about Hindu gods and goddesses, when in the same breath the micro-blogging website has suspended former US President Donald Trump’s account.

The development ensued in a criminal writ petition, stating that the content uploaded on a Twitter account namely ‘Atheist Republic’ not only had abusive language with respect to Hindu goddesses, but also showed them in vulgar representations in the form of cartoons and graphics.

Vide order dated 29th October 2021, the Court had found prima facie substance in the complaint and had directed Twitter to take down the objectionable content. Subsequently, two more objectionable posts were uploaded by Atheist Republic thereafter which were not removed by Twitter promptly, where after the court had made taunting remarks on Twitter like ‘not using its own brain’ thereby indicating that Twitter was not complying with the requirement of due diligence to be observed by an Intermediary.

As per the provision of IT Rules, 2021, an intermediary can be held liable for any third party information if it does not observe “due diligence” while discharging its duties.

The Court has also directed the Central Government to examine if the user ‘Atheist India’ is repeatedly posting objectionable content and whether a case for blocking under of Section 69A is made out. The matter will now be heard on 6th September.

Case Title: Aditya Singh Deshwal v Union of India and Ors.

Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) must issue ‘prior notice’ to account holders against whom action will be taken: Centre to Delhi HC

The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) are expected to issue prior notice to the user before taking any action on the user account and that failure to comply with the same may amount to a violation of Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules 2021.

Background

The development came after the Central Government through Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology filed a counter affidavit in pleas challenging action of micro-blogging platform Twitter to permanently suspend user accounts namely “wokeflix” “MeghBulletin” and others. In a similar affidavit filed in the pleas, Centre has said that the platforms must respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and should not take down the account itself or completely suspend the user account in all cases.

Furthermore, Centre has submitted that if the intermediary platform falls under the Significant Social Media Intermediary (SSMI) category as defined in the IT Rules, 2021, then as per rule 4(8) the SSMI is expected to issue a prior notification to the user explaining the action being taken and the grounds or reasons for taking such action.

Only in cases where the majority of the contents/posts/tweets in a user account are unlawful, the platform may take the extreme step of taking down the whole information or suspending the whole account, the Centre has said.

Centre has further averred that SSMIs must be held accountable for subjugating and supplanting fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech and expression, otherwise the same would have direct consequences for any democratic nation.

The matters will now be heard on April 18.

Supreme Court restrains High Courts from proceeding in pleas challenging the IT Rules, 2021

The bench comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Abhay S Oka has stayed the proceedings in the High Courts in the petitions challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and the Cable TV Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

The Bench issued the notice in the transfer petitions filed by Union Government seeking the transfer of the petitions from High Courts to Supreme Court. However, the Court clarified that it will not interfere with the interim orders passed by the High Courts.

The order of the Court dated 9th May, 2022 can be accessed here.

Whatsapp banned more than 19 lakh Indian accounts in May

As per the latest reports published by the messaging platform it banned over 19 lakh accounts basis complaints received via its grievance channel and through its own mechanism to prevent and detect violations.

Delhi High Court grants time to the Central Government to reveal plans to regulate the de-platforming of social media users

The Delhi High Court, while hearing batch of petitions from users concerned about the suspension and deletion of their social media accounts, granted time to the Central Government to inform if they were drafting any regulations to govern the de-platforming of users from social media. The Government’s counsel sought time to seek instructions regarding this matter. The Government acknowledged the rights of the users and stated that taking down of the accounts would be considered against the spirit of Articles 14, 19 and 21.

I&B ministry blocks YouTube, social media channels under IT Rules

The ministry of information and broadcasting issued orders to block eight YouTube news channels, one Facebook account, and two Facebook posts under the IT (Information Technology) Rules, 2021. The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 114 crore and were subscribed by over 85 lakh users, the ministry said in a statement.

Twitter to HC: Intermediary can’t decide whether content lawful, needs court order to take down unlawful material:

The social media giant Twitter on September 07 informed the Delhi High Court that as an intermediary it cannot determine whether content on its platform is legal or otherwise and that it can only take action when notified to do so by a court or the relevant competent authority.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Aditya Deshwal against the allegedly obnoxious posts on ‘Maa Kaali’ by through a Twitter handle ‘Atheist Republic’ and despite several complaints, Twitter has neither suspended the account nor taken down the offending content.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra appearing for Twitter informed the bench that the objectionable content has been taken down from its platform. Additionally, Twitter, in its affidavit said that the information is required to be actioned when the platform is put to “actual knowledge” of any content that may be unlawful and has so been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction or by the appropriate government.

As the counsel for the petitioner sought time to go through and respond to the affidavit, a bench has listed the matter for further hearing on October 28.

Allahabad HC quashes FIR against Flipkart, holds that U/Sec 79 of IT Act 2000, it is exempted from any liability

The Allahabad High Court while quashing an FIR lodged against Flipkart, observed that the company is exempted from any liability under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000, no violation can ever be attributed or made out against an  intermediary, as the same would only be vicarious, and such proceedings as initiated against them would be unjust and bad in law.

Background: An FIR was registered against Flipkart and its officials under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471, 474, and 474-A IPC after a practising lawyer filed an application under Section 156(3) CrPC before the concerned Magistrate and the Magistrate ordered for registration of an FIR.

In this case, the respondent alleged that he had ordered a laptop from Flipkart, but it was having processor of brand ‘A.M.D’ instead of brand ‘Intel’and thus the delivery of the product was not as per the specifications for which order was placed. He registered a complaint with Flipkart regarding the alleged discrepancy of the product. The complaint was taken up by Flipkart as per their Dispute Redressal Policy, with the seller, but he declined to replace or refund the consideration of the product, stating that the product was dispatched as per specifications purchased by the respondent. Thereafter, the respondent lodged a complaint against Flipkart.

Flipkart raised a challenge to the impugned FIR seeking its quashing, inter alia, on the ground that it is an e-commerce platform that provides access to buyers and sellers through their website, where they meet and interact to execute purchase and sale transactions, subject to terms and condition as set out in the buyers/sellers terms of use (‘Flipkart Terms of Use’), and Flipkart is not a party to or in control of any such transaction between its users. Thus, claimed protection under Section 79 I.T. Act, 2000.

The Court observed that Section 79 is a safe harbour provision. Further, internet intermediaries give access to host, disseminate and index content, sell-buy products and services originated by third parties on the internet, that includes e-commerce intermediaries where the platforms do not take title of the goods being sold. Moreover, as per Section 81 of IT Act, 2000, Section 79 has an overriding effect.

Consequently, the Plea was allowed and the impugned FIR and the consequent police report was set aside and quashed.

Twitter argues before Karnataka HC in challenge to blocking orders

The High Court is hearing the social media company’s plea challenging the government orders to block 39 tweets and accounts from its platform between February 2021 and February 2022.

Justice Krishna S Dixit on behalf of the social media company argued that orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, can only be issued if it is in line with the six grounds mentioned in the law.

At the last hearing on September 26, 2022 the High Court had sought comparative analysis of how other countries have dealt with similar problems raised by the social media company.

On Monday, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who appeared for Twitter, filed a comparative study on four jurisdictions – the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia.

Senior Advocate Ashok Haranahalli, also appearing for Twitter, argued that the practice of not issuing notice to the users violates the rights of the intermediary.

He argued that the rights of the users under Article 19 (right to freedom of speech and expression) were infringed by blocking their accounts without notice and that they should be informed why their accounts were restricted.

Further, he submitted that the entire account should not be blocked and only the specific offending information ought to be the subject of blocking orders.

Pakistani Rooh Afza Removed From Amazon India, Delhi High Court Passes Permanent Injunction In Favour Of Hamdard Dawakhana

After ordering Amazon to remove the listings of Pakistan-manufactured Rooh Afza from its platform in India, the Delhi High Court has passed a permanent injunction in favour of Hamdard National Foundation (India)restraining various sellers from offering the infringing products.

Hamdard National Foundation and Hamdard Laboratories India (Hamdard Dawakhana) had earlier fi led a suit against Amazon and some sellers which were offering the products of its Pakistani counterpart on the e-commerce site in India.

The court further directed Amazon that in case any other listings infringing Hamdard’s mark ‘Rooh Afza’ are found, the same be taken down in accordance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which were amended this year.

Read order here.

METAVERSE

 MakeMyTrip launches limited edition NFTs

The first batch of these digitally crafted, immersive artworks will “unravel the majestic landscapes of Goa, Ladakh, Orissa, Himachal, Kashmir, Kerala, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, and Andamans”, according to the company. The online travel company said that each NFT will be priced upwards of Rs 14,999. Atleast 25 tokens per artwork have been launched, and these will be available for purchase on a first-come-first-serve basis. MakeMyTrip has collaborated with KoineArth NFT platform to launch these digital collectibles. (here)

Warner Brothers to release hybrid NFT trading cards based on DC comics

One hundred and fifty-five superheroes across the DC universe will feature on the physical cards, and their NFTs will be minted on the Ethereum based Immutable X sidechain (a layer-2 protocol). Warner Bros. will release these cards designed by the Cartamundi Group on the new Hro app, which will converge the physical and digital worlds by acting as a marketplace for the NFT cards. (Here)

 

Christiano Ronaldo backs cricket NFT startup

FanCraze was co-founded by Anshum Bhambri and two others in 2021. The startup sealed a partnership with the International Cricket Council, the sports official governing body, to create exclusive cricket non-fungible tokens on Flow blockchain. The online platform is raising $100 million in a new funding round with backers including Christiano Ronaldo. (Here)

 

Walmart getting prepared to enter Metaverse

The retail outlet company, Walmart Inc. is working to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) along with several filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to be prepared to welcome its customers in the upcoming metaverse.

The trademark filings show the intent of the outlet to sell virtual goods such as electronics, décor, toys, sporting goods and other products related to personal-care. The process adopted by the retail giant shows the steps for the participation in the new digital world.

Coinbase and MasterCard come together to facilitate transactions in NFT marketplace

Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, is getting into a partnership with MasterCard to allow card payments in its upcoming NFT marketplace. This collaboration will assist the consumers in directly purchasing the NFTs through their credit or debit cards without having to buy any cryptocurrency.

The partnership has the objective to make the NFTs more accessible to the general public by decreasing the hassle of purchasing cryptocurrency, its addition to a secure wallet and the connection of the wallet with the marketplace. The venture will also support the creators by providing them an easy route of commerce.

Enabling and futuristic regulatory framework introduced to harness the full potential of NFTs

Esya Centre in association with the Internet and Mobile Association of India in its report lays out suggestions for policymakers, entrepreneurs, developers and creators to consider to help promote a healthy growth of the industry. The report also addresses the issues of copyright and IPR associated with NFT that both creators and dealers of NFT need to be aware of before engaging with NFT assets

Link to the report – click here

Adoption of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality faced a boom in India since the pandemic

Over the last few years and especially since the pandemic, the growth of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has accelerated in the India markets. The AR and VR are now being deployed in EdTech, manufacturing, healthcare, media and entertainment among other verticals. As per reports, the global AR and VR market is expected to reach $571.42 billion by 2025.

MakeMyTrip launches limited edition NFTs

The first batch of these digitally crafted, immersive artworks will “unravel the majestic landscapes of Goa, Ladakh, Orissa, Himachal, Kashmir, Kerala, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, and Andamans”, according to the company. The online travel company said that each NFT will be priced upwards of Rs 14,999. Atleast 25 tokens per artwork have been launched, and these will be available for purchase on a first-come-first-serve basis. MakeMyTrip has collaborated with KoineArth NFT platform to launch these digital collectibles.

Warner Brothers to release hybrid NFT trading cards based on DC comics

One hundred and fifty-five superheroes across the DC universe will feature on the physical cards, and their NFTs will be minted on the Ethereum based Immutable X sidechain (a layer-2 protocol). Warner Bros. will release these cards designed by the Cartamundi Group on the new Hro app, which will converge the physical and digital worlds by acting as a marketplace for the NFT cards.

Christiano Ronaldo backs cricket NFT startup

FanCraze was co-founded by Anshum Bhambri and two others in 2021. The startup sealed a partnership with the International Cricket Council, the sports official governing body, to create exclusive cricket non-fungible tokens on Flow blockchain.

The online platform is raising $100 million in a new funding round with backers including Christiano Ronaldo.

NFTs recognised as ‘legal property’ in landmark case

The UK’s High Court has recognised NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as “property” in a case which is likely to have far-reaching implications for disputes involving digital art.

The action was brought in March this year by Lavinia Osbourne, the founder of Women in Blockchain Talks, who claimed that two digital works from the Boss Beauties collection, an NFT-based initiative, had been stolen from her online wallet.

It was held that the assets were “property” and thus able to have access to legal protections in this instance, an injunction served on accounts on Ozone Networks (which hosts the NFT marketplace OpenSea), to freeze the assets.

It is of the utmost significance as, for the first time in the world, a court of law has recognised that an NFT is property capable of being frozen by way of an injunction. This ruling, therefore, removes any uncertainty that NFTs (as tokens consisting of code) are property in and of themselves, distinct from the thing they represent (e.g., a digital artwork), under the law of England and Wales.

Meta Files ‘Meta Pay’ Trademark Applications Covering Crypto Services (see here)

Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook, recently filed five trademark applications for “Meta Pay” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ​​which appear to be associated with a new digital payments platform that will integrate various cryptocurrency and blockchain-related products.

SquirrrelVerse launches NFT commerce platform

SquirrelVerse, a Metaverse first company, has announced the launch of Metascreen – a curated NFT commerce platform for showcasing unique NFTs as movie tickets. ‘Mithila Makhaan’, a national award-winning Maithili film will be screened on Metascreen as the first Indian movie that can be watched using NFT as a movie ticket.

Metascreen is a platform by SquirrelVerse for users to buy NFTs and watch movies as well. Creators can showcase and own their work and earn through trading royalties on the Metascreen platform.

Each creator will have complete ownership rights of their artwork where they can release movies, poetry, books, or any other artworks in digital form. Metascreen removes any third party or middle party in between the creator and the consumer changing the way content is created or consumed.

Kanye West Files Trademarks Describing NFT Technology After Denouncing the Digital Collectible Concept

rapper and musician Ye and his company Mascotte Holdings filed new trademarks: “Kanye West has filed 17 new trademark applications around his YEEZUS name. The filings indicate an intent to launch YEEZUS-branded amusement parks, NFTs, toys, and more.”

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Pay, the Digital Wallet for the Metaverse

Recently, Meta (formerly, Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a post on Facebook, announcing the replacement of Facebook Pay by Meta CEO with some additional features. As per Zuckerberg, it is used for Meta’s metaverse platform enabling users to securely manage their identity, what they own, and how they pay. Moreover, with this, users will be able to transact on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and other supported platforms. In his post, the techie tycoon also said “In the future there will be all sorts of digital items you might want to create or buy — digital clothing, art, videos, music, experiences, virtual events, and more. Proof of ownership will be important, especially if you want to take some of these items with you across different services.”

Read more (here).

US Trademark and Copyright Offices to study IP impact of NFTs

The US Patent and Trademark Office and the US Copyright Office are set to launch a study on the impact of the nonfungible tokens on the intellectual property rights. The two departments have agreed to conduct the joint study in correspondence with the US Senators, Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis. The study has been launched after how the NFTs have acquired mainstream popularity. 

MISCELLANEOUS

Adani forays into media business

Adani Group has entered into a binding term sheet with BSE-listed Quint Digital Media Ltd to acquire a minority stake in Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd (QBM), an indirect subsidiary of Quint Digital, the companies said in a statement. Earlier, Quintillion Media announced that it had ended its equity joint venture with Bloomberg Media in favour of a new content license agreement. Bloomberg Media and Quintillion Media will no longer co-produce content but will continue to distribute Bloomberg content in India through a license agreement, the two said in a statement. (here)

Andhra Pradesh Government orders reconstitution of committee to scrutinize prices of cinema tickets

The State Government of Andhra Pradesh has constituted a new committee to scrutinize and rationalize the rates prices of admission into cinema halls in the state. A government order to this effect was issued on December 28, 2021 by the Home Department.

The GO said that “the committee shall take into account all the factors relevant to the fixation of admission rates like classification of theatres such as multiplexes and single screens with due regard to the location and the amenities required to be provided to the cinemagoers.”

Competition Commission of India orders probe against Apple over alleged “unfair” App Store

India’s competition regulator, Competition Commission of India (CCI) ordered a probe against Apple over allegations made by Jaipur-based non-profit organization ‘Together We Fight Society’ on December 31, 2021. (See here). The organization alleged that Apple has abused its dominant position by owning apps competing with third party developers, charging a commission of almost 30% for in-app purchases and not allowing any other payment mechanism.

CCI stated in its order that Apple has prima facie violated Section 4 of the Competition Act, which deals with the abuse of dominant position in the market. It further ordered an investigation into the company by the Director General, whose report has to be submitted within 60 days of the order.

As per latest news, investigation report in the App Store matter is likely to be submitted soon whereupon the same would be forwarded to the complainant and Apple for their response. A final ruling is expected from CCI after the hearing in the matter.

Indore Resident files complaint against Vicky Kaushal for using his vehicle number on film

Several pictures of Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan surfaced on social media in January 2021 after the actors were spotted on the streets of Indore shooting for their upcoming film. This had landed the Vicky Kaushal into a legal trouble. A resident of Indore has filed a complaint against the actor alleging use of his vehicle’s number plate in the upcoming film without his permission.

Google’s Conditions on Digital News Publishers Prima Facie Unfair, Abuse of Dominant Position’: CCI Orders Probe

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) directed a probe against Google as well with respect to allegations of abuse of dominant position raised by Digital News Publishers Association. The Association had filed information under Section 19(1) (a) of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”) against Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, Google India Private Limited and Google Ireland Limited.

Noting that Google prima facie abused its dominant position in relation to news aggregation services, the CCI ordered the probe:

“In a well-functioning democracy, the critical role played by news media cannot be undermined, and it needs to be ensured that digital gatekeeper firms do not abuse their dominant position to harm the competitive process of determining a fair distribution of revenue amongst all stakeholders. Therefore, the alleged conduct of Google app to be an imposition unfair conditions and price which, prima facie, is a violation of Section 4(2)(a) of the Act”, the order read.

Digital News Publishers Association is an association of online platforms of major mainstream media like Indian Express, Times Group, NDTV, India Today, ABP, Malayala Manorama etc.

Read Order here.

Karnataka’s ‘Kagzi Lemon’ soon to get the GI tag

The Kazgi Lemon, largely located in the Indi taluk region of Vijayapura district of Karnataka is likely from securing the Geographical Indication (GI) tag soon. The development has happened after scientists of Horticulture University of Bagalkot stepped in to support the Karnataka State Lime Development Board (KSLDB) in obtaining the tag.

The KSLDB’s Managing Director has claimed that the Kagzi Lemons have a thinner rind and more juice which adds on to the weight of the lemon. Further, the scientists have contributed to prove the uniqueness of the fruit.

YouTube shuts down its Originals Division

YouTube is getting out of the business of originals. The Google-owned video giant said it is winding down its original productions team after more than six years. In its official statement YT clarified that the platform will meet its commitments for shows which have already been contracted by it. YouTube Originals was conceived in 2016 in a bid to ride the wave of OTT streaming. It was a division within YouTube dedicated to new programming headed by Susanne Daniels.

ShareChat and Mx Media announce a strategic merger of Moj and MX TakaTak

After the merger of Mx TakaTak and Moj, the combined platform will have 100 million creators, over 300 million Monthly Active Users, and nearly 250 billion monthly video views.

MX TakaTak will continue to function as a separate platform for now, but the two platforms’ creator base, content supply and recommendation algorithms will be integrated.

Read more about it here.

IPRS partners with Roposo for publishing and performing rights

The partnership will benefit the IPRS members with publishing royalties for content on Roposo and enable them to leverage the platform’s scale of millions of users for visibility.

Through this association, the members of IPRS would not only be able to potentially get their music out to millions of users, but also there would be royalties for the songwriters and composers behind the music represented by IPRS.

IndiaMart.com and other 4 Indian markets feature in US Notorious Markets List

Popular e-commerce website Indiamart and four other markets have been listed in the annual list of the world’s notorious markets released by US Trade Representative. The other markets include New Delhi’s Palika Bazaar and Tank Road, Heera Panna in Mumbai and Kidderpore in Kolkata

The list has identified 42 online and 35 physical markets around the world that are reportedly engaged in substantial trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy. The report states that IndiaMart.com, while claims to be the world’s second largest online business-to-business market, however, is home to several counterfeiting pharmaceuticals, electronics and apparels.

Read more about it here.

Russia legalizes intellectual property piracy, allows companies to steal patents from “unfriendly countries”

As the tension rises between Russia and other countries, Russian Government has now decided to not pay the intellectual property rights to patent holders from “unfriendly countries” which include, among others, all the members of the European Union.

Under international law, an intellectual property piracy is when a patent holder is not paid its rights. The Russia Prime Minister has signed a decree which will change the methodology for determining the compensation paid to the right holder when deciding to use the invention without the holder’s consent.

Read more about it here.

Cruise Ship Drug Case: NCB Inquiry Finds Shortcomings in Investigation

The Special NDPS Court granted the Narcotics Control Bureau’s SIT an extension of 60-days to file the charge sheet in the Cordelia drugs case in which Shah Rukh Khan’s son – Aryan – is an accused. Special judge has reserved orders after hearing the prosecution and counsels for two accused who are now the only ones still in prison.

Special Public Prosecutor said there were compelling reasons in the application to allow extension of time to file chargesheet including non-cooperation from the accused in giving their passwords and the necessity to re-record a “witness’s” statement, who is accused of corruption and currently in police’s custody.

Another, unfortunate but key development that took place in this case when one of the prime witness “Prabhakar Sail” passed away due to a cardiac arrest on 1st April, 2022 in sudden circumstances. The Police has set up a team to investigate the reason behind his death.

Kerala High Court Asks Media To Refrain From Publishing Unverified/False Information

The Kerala High Court on 30th March, 2022 commented on the role of the media in the functioning of a democracy, and its responsibility to provide accurate information to its citizens while disposing of a suo motu case. The division bench was adjudicating upon a suo-motu case it had launched after coming across a news report in a Malayalam daily Kerala Kaumudi alleging that in a temple in Tripunithura, devotees were made to wash the feet of 12 brahmins for the atonement of their sins. However, upon verification, it was discovered that it was the Tantri and not the devotees who washed the feet of 12 priests as part of the religious rituals.

 

The court observed that both given their influence in a vibrant democracy, electronic and print media should refrain from publishing incorrect, biased or unverified information and they must ensure that they are not providing the public with information that is factually wrong or based on unverified information.

Read order here.

Journalist ‘Phone Snatching Case’: Bombay High Court stays summons issued to Salman Khan

Bombay High Court grants relief to Salman Khan by staying the summons issued against him by the order of the Andheri Magistrate for his personal appearance in the case filed by a journalist against the actor and his body guard.

The lower court issued the order based on the private complaint filed by a report who alleged assault, abuse and criminal intimidation by the actor. The complaint also involved Khan’s body guard who allegedly snatched the reporter’s phone for when he recorded a video of the actor cycling on April 24, 2019.

Bombay High Court restrains CCI from taking any coercive action against Disney, Star India, and Asia net Star

The Bombay High Court comprising of a division Bench of G.S. Patel and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., directed the Competition Commission of India not to take any coercive actions against Asianet Star Communications Private Limited, Disney Broadcasting and Star India. (Asianet Star Communications Private Limited Versus Competition Commissioner of India & Ors, with connected matters) in a discriminatory pricing case. The challenge was to an order issued by Competition Commission of India on 28.2.2022, wherein an investigation under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act 2002 was directed. The Bench stated that the purpose of the present order was to simply hold the parties in a form of a status quo or a neutral position until they can be heard fully once the Court reopens after the summer recess and once the CCI has been given a reasonable opportunity to file an affidavit and submit a compilation of relevant law. Additionally, the High Court intended to give 2nd respondent, the complainant, an opportunity before the CCI to file a further affidavit. (Read here)

Police Case Against Diljit Dosanjh’s Live Concert At Lovely Professional University

A case was filed against Popular Indian singer Diljit Dosanjh under sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. the reasons are simple but may not be less serious – firstly, the Concert was allowed to run beyond its time limit. The other reason is that singer’s chopper’s pilot did not land on the helipad authorized and created by the administration. See here

USTR places India on priority watch list, again

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) again placed India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ along with China, Russia and four others, for lack of adequate intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement.

In its Annual Special 301 Report that identifies trade barriers to American companies due to IP laws of other countries, the USTR said that India remained one of the most challenging economies for IP enforcement and protection and the country’s overall IP enforcement was inadequate.

Read more here.

Amazon Prime Video launches TVOD service

Prime Video has rolled out a TVOD service that allows users to rent a film instead of purchasing a subscription plan.

Read more about it here.

Gujarat High Court quashes criminal proceedings against SRK over ‘Raees’ promotion incident in 2017

The Gujarat High Court has quashed a 2017 criminal case against him in connection with the stampede at the railway station in Vadodara during a train trip to promote his film ‘Raees’.
The case was registered for allegedly committing acts endangering the life or personal safety of others after a man suffered a heart attack at the Vadodara railway station during the ‘Raees’ promotion event.

CCI conducts market study on film distribution to explore self-regulation

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is conducting a market study on film distribution in the country, with the larger intention of exploring the possibility of a self-regulatory mechanism within the industry to ensure a competitive landscape.

Read more here.

Money Laundering Case: Jacqueline Fernandez Gets Court Permission To Attend Iifa Awards In Abu Dhabi

The actor had moved an application in a Delhi court seeking permission to travel abroad for 15 days, for IIFA Awards in Abu Dhabi from May 31 to June 6 2022.  She has also sought the court’s permission to travel to France and Nepal.

The law enforcement economic intelligence agency under the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance alleges that the prime accused in the Rs 200-crore money laundering case gave gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore to the Bollywood actor. The money laundering case pertains to the alleged extortion of Rs 200 crore from the family of former Ranbaxy owner Shivinder Singh by Chandrashekhar

Zee Signs Exclusive Media Rights Deal for Emirates Cricket Board’s UAE T20 League

Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) announced signing of a long-term global media rights deal with Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) for UAE T20 League for 10 years. (Read more here)

As part of the deal, the league will be live telecast across ZEE’s 10 linear channels in English, Hindi, and Tamil language, as well as simultaneously streamed on ZEE5.

In 2017, ZEE had sold its sports business, TEN Sports, to SPN for approximately Rs 2,400 crore and signed a five-year non-compete clause. Earlier this year, the two companies have signed definitive agreements to merge operations and are waiting for regulatory approvals.

Shutterstock Acquires Splash News

Shutterstock, Inc., the leading global creative platform for transformative brands and media companies, announced the acquisition of Splash News, one of the world’s leading entertainment news networks for newsrooms and media companies. Splash News is an industry leader with customers including E! News, People, Daily Mail, TMZ, Dow Jones, Reach and News UK.

Splash’s vast collection provides a chronicle of some of the most iconic moments from the last three decades – from images of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s 2014 wedding in Venice, to photographs of “Bennifer” from when they dated in 2002. A thriving archive of over 27 million images joins Shutterstock Editorial’s archive of over 60 million assets, making this one of the largest Editorial photo and video archives in the industry.

Delhi High Court allows for extension of time for filing response to FER for Patent Application

 

Justice Pratibha M Singh observed that the High Court, while exercising its writ jurisdiction could grant an extension in filing a response to an FER (First Examination Reports), provided that the applicant did not have the intention to abandon its patent application.

The Court further held that the consequence of Applicant being deprives of exclusivity for his invention and the patent being abandoned was quite extreme and thus, such consequence should not be imposed on the applicant for no fault of its own.

The order of the Court dated 31.05.2022 can be accessed here.

CCI calls for DG investigation against BookMyShow for its exclusive agreements with theatres

 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has called for an investigation against online ticket platform BookMyShow for its exclusive agreements with cinemas and multiplexes. The CCI has expressed concern that these kinds of agreements can potentially reduce the competition in the relevant market.

The action has been initiated in light of the information alleging that BookMyShow along with Cinepolis, INOX, PVR and other theatres were acting in contravention of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.

The order of CCI can be accessed here.

Film exhibitors to move Andhra Pradesh High Court on online ticket sales by government

As per reports,  a section of film distributors and exhibitors are planning to move Andhra Pradesh High Court objecting to “state government’s interference” in online sale of film tickets by shortly launching a web portal ‘Your Screens’ of Andhra Pradesh Film Development Corporation (APFDC).  Recently, the government entrusted the task of selling tickets online to APFDC by launching Your Screens online portal. The cost of tickets sold by the government web portal will be low compared to those sold by private aggregators which could result in film distributors and exhibitors losing considerable money as they would lose the benefits of selling online tickets though private aggregators.

Surprisingly the Court gave a good shock to the Government stayed the decision for online movie ticket sales. Read more here

 

As Per PwC report India’s media & entertainment industry to be worth Rs 4.3 lakh crore by 2026!

According to the report by PwC (a global consulting firm), based on E&M consumers’ and advertisers’ spending across 52 territories, India will become the “biggest world market for print edition readership in 2025” and the fifth-largest TV advertising market globally by 2026. Per the report, the Indian Entertainment & Media industry is progressing at an 8.8 per cent compound annual growth rate.

Read more: (here)

Social Media Influencers required to pay extra tax

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has recently changed the rules related to Tax Deducted at Source (TDS). According to the newly introduced rules, social media influencers will be required to pay TDS on the free samples that they receive from companies starting July 01, 2022.  Furthermore, the new rules also include a one percent tax on crypto transactions.

Read more here.

Central Government warns edtech companies against unfair trade practices

In a meeting held by the Central Government on July 1, 2022 with self-regulatory body India Edtech Consortium (IEC), which runs under the aegis of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Consumer Affairs Secretary, Rohit Kumar Singh, said that if self-regulation does not curb unfair trade practices, then stringent guidelines would require to be formulated for ensuring transparency. During the meeting, issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements for the Indian edtech sector figured prominently.

Relief to BookMyShow by Andhra Pradesh High Court, Court stays govt ticket booking platform (Read#25)

In its interim order, the High Court said that the petitioners have made out more than a prima facie case. The court also said that more significant harm would be caused to the petitioners if the interim order is not granted at this stage, as the private ticketing platforms like BookMyShow risk their agreements with third parties being affected, and theatre owners risk their licences being cancelled if they don’t migrate to the government portal by July 2, which was the last date earlier fixed by the state government.

The court observed in its interim order that while the ticket charges are fixed by the government, the service charges vary. While BookMyShow and theatre owners were charging their own service charges till now, with the new rules framed in the government order, an additional service charge of up to 2% has to be paid on the ticket to the government agency.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court issued an interim order stopping the state government from selling movie tickets online through a government-run platform until July 27, when the final hearing is expected. (Read Order here)

Meta ordered to Pay Rs. 25,000 by Maharashtra Consumer Commission

Maharashtra’s Gondia District Consumer Disputes Resolution Commission recently directed the Facebook India Online Services Pvt. Ltd. and Meta Platforms, Inc. to pay Rs. 25,000/- as compensation to a Facebook User. The user purchased a pair of shoes for Rs. 599/- on Facebook but never received them.

Meta opposes CCI probe in Delhi HC, says FB can’t be investigated ‘due to’ WhatsApp

Opposing the Competition Commission of India (CCI)’s probe into the latest WhatsApp privacy policy, its parent company Meta on 22nd July, 2022 told the Delhi High Court that the government authority cannot investigate it only because it owns the instant messaging platform.

A bench of the Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad of Delhi High Court were hearing the appeal filed by Meta and WhatsApp challenging the single-judge order which refused to stay the CCI’s order in April last year.

During the course of the hearing, Meta through their counsel pointed out that the two platforms are different entities and that the ownership is common but roads are different, policies are different.  Further arguments will be heard on July 25, 2022.

Pre-Grant Opponent cannot be kept in dark about developments in examination process of patent application

The Delhi High Court has held that the proceedings in a pre-grant opposition and simultaneous examination of a patent application cannot result in a situation where the pre-grant opponent is kept in dark about the developments taking place in the examination process of a patent application.

The Court noted that in the present case, there were four amendments on record filed by the Applicant and hence five sets of claims had been filed much after the completion of the pleadings in the pre-grant opposition. There were three substantive affidavits that had been filed by the Applicant along with an amended set of claims. Rulings on the amendment were yet to be issued by the Patent Office.

Thus, in the opinion of the Court, an opportunity had to be granted to the Opponent to rebut the evidence of the Applicant. Accordingly, the opponent was permitted to file affidavits of its own experts in rebuttal to the three expert affidavits filed by the Applicant.

Read order here.

Economic Advisory Council’s report suggest that India’s patent system is affected by labour shortage and complex compliances

The report of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has concluded that the delay in addressing concerns over the patent and trademark system in India is mainly due to labour shortage and complex compliance requirements. The report further suggests that India has seen a significant rise in the number of patents filed and granted, however, the number is much lower when compared to countries like US and China.

Ekta Kapoor takes legal action against fake casting calls using her name: ‘Have never demanded money from any aspirant’

On 28.08.2022,  Ekta Kapoor and her production ventures, Balaji Telefilms Ltd and ALT Digital Entertainment issued a statement against fake casting agents demanding money from acting spirants in her name. The company is also taking necessary legal steps in the matter and meanwhile, urged people to report any suspicious casting call to them.

The official statement released on Social Media also added a helpline mail id to report any such fraud case in such event and had mentioned that they received information that some people in her name had been cheating aspirants and asking for money in her name to cast in her shows.

Pre-litigation mediation is not compulsory in Intellectual Property suits seeking urgent interim relief notes Delhi High Court

In a suit seeking exemption from instituting pre-litigation mediation, in accordance with Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and a permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from passing off of trademark, infringement of copyright, unfair competition, rendition of accounts, damages, and other reliefs, Justice Pratibha M. Singh noted that the requirement for the same under Section 12A of the Commercial Court Act stands satisfied when one party denies offer of amicable settlement of other party. The Court noted that ‘”A perusal of the correspondence, extracted hereinabove, leaves no doubt in the mind of the Court that the Defendants were in no way interested in an amicable resolution of the dispute. Instead, the hand of mediation which was lent by the Plaintiff was met with a tight slap. The Defendant’s conduct clearly is not in the spirit of any amicable resolution – let alone mediation. Hence, the requirement of Section 12A of the CCA duly stands satisfied on both counts”, the Court stated. (Read here)

Delhi High Court allowed the entry of Faraaz into the London Film Festival

Faraaz – a movie based on the 2016 terrorist attack at Holey Artisan, Dhaka, Bangladesh was embroiled in a legal battle (Ruba Ahmed & Anr. V. Hansal Mehta & Ors.) with a family that had lost their daughters in the attack. In a recent order, Justice Neena Bansal Krishna of the Delhi High Court has allowed the filing of the Movie for screening in the London Film Festival subject to the condition that the film shall not be screened either in India or abroad till disposal of the application or without prior permission of Court.

TRAI seeks industry’s views on system requirements for DRM-based IPTV networks

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up a consultation paper (See here) on proposed amendments to the interconnection regulations 2017. It has amended the regulation to include system requirements for Digital Rights Management (DRM).

DRM refers to the management of the encryption systems for providing the functionality of conditional access system (CAS) and subscriber management system (SMS) for the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service providers.

The regulating authority has sought written comments on the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2022 from the stakeholders by 7 October 2022. Counter-comments, if any, may be submitted by 21 October 2022.

The TRAI has suggested that the IPTV service provider has to retransmit linear channels over a closed network to set-top boxes (STBs) within the premises of subscriber. It clarified that IPTV must not include any electronic delivery for receipt and viewing via the Internet/OTT. It also stated that the IPTV linear services should not be available on Internet/public networks.

TRAI has also suggested the certain permissible data mismatch between DRM and SMS. Further, the data between the DRM and SMS must be reconciled on a monthly basis. The reconciliation report will have to be stored along with the system data for a minimum of two years or at least two audit cycles, or as per Schedule III whichever is later.

The TRAI additionally has also suggested that the IPTV operator will have to ensure that the current version of the DRM in use does not have any hacking history. A written declaration from the DRM vendor will be required to be furnished on an annual basis as compliance of this requirement.

Bombay High Court refuses to intervene in pleas by Asianet, Disney India, Star India against CCI for lack of jurisdiction (Read #14)

Bombay High Court refused to exercise its territorial jurisdiction in the petitions filed by the broadcasting companies against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiating investigation against these companies. The companies sought extension of interim order, granted in April 2022, directing the CCI to not take any coercive action against these broadcasters and media and entertainment companies.

Supreme Court thrashes TV Channels for not preventing the spread of Hate Speech

The Hon’ble Apex Court while hearing a batch of petitions relating to hate speech and rumour-mongering showed its dissatisfaction on the role of TV Channels to prevent the spread of Hate Speech. It noted that the role of the TV anchor in TV debates is very crucial and it is the duty of the anchor to prevent spread of hate speech. The Hon’ble Court while observing that there needs to be an institutional mechanism to deal with hate speech also directed the Union of India to take a clear stand in relation to its intention of enacting the law regarding prohibiting incitement of hate speech which was recommended by the Law Commission.

Delhi High Court refuses to stay launch of book “Will Power”

A suit was filed before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court by a hockey player, Gurjit Kaur to stay the launch of the book “Will Power’ authored by Sjoerd Marijne, former coach of the Indian Women’s Hockey team. It was contended by the Plaintiff that the former coach in his book has divulged certain medical confidential information that was shared by the Plaintiff to the author and former coach in confidence.

The Hon’ble Court while rejecting this argument said that medical information of a sportsperson is not confidential and did not grant stay on the launch of the book.

CCI approves amalgamation of Jio Cinema OTT platform with Viacom 18

The Competition Commission of India has recently approved the amalgamation of Jio Cinema OTT Platform with Viacom 18. The approval by CCI is followed by an investment from BTS Investment 1 Pte. Ltd. and Reliance Projects and Property Management Services.

Read more about the merger here.

Zee Media approaches Delhi High Court against I&B Ministry’s order withdrawing permission to uplink channels on KU Band

Zee Media has approached the Delhi High Court challenging an order by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrawing the permission granted to the media house for up linking its TV channels on Ku Band on GSAT-15 Satellite, an arrangement that allegedly gave it an advantage over competitors.

Justice Yashwant Varma, noted that the Ministry’s order came after directions were issued to the Ministry from a Division Bench order of the Delhi High Court.

In view of the aforesaid, Justice Varma held that it would be expedient for this matter to be placed before the appropriate division bench and added that the petition be listed for hearing before the same division bench on October 6.

By being on the GSAT-15 satellite, these channels were accessible on DD FreeDish, effectively making them free-to-air. According to the ministry, this gave Zee an unfair advantage over competitors. (Read more here)

SC rejects Facebook’s Plea to Dismiss CCI Probe Into WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy (see here)

Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed the pleas by Meta Platforms, which is the parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp, challenging the probe ordered by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) into WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy of 2021. The Court noted “We’ve heard the counsel. No interference of this court is required to be called for. The CCI is an independent authority to consider any violation of the provisions of the Competition Act of 2002. The CCI cannot be dissuaded from investigation and alleged violation of the Competition Act, 2002”.

IPRS reaches out to budding musicians in tier 2 and 3 cities (see here)

Recently, the Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS) a copyright society in India representing thousands of authors, composers, and publishers across the nation, attended the ZIRO Festival of Music. It educated music aficionados about the advantages of licensing and the pertinent copyrights available to them. As per the Wikipedia page – “Ziro Festival of Music is an outdoor music festival held in the Ziro valley in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh”.

Zee-Sony to sell off Big Magic, Zee Action and Zee Classic to address CCI’s merger concerns

Broadcasting networks Zee Entertainment Enterprises (Zee) and Culver Max Entertainment (erstwhile Sony Pictures Networks India) have agreed to hive off three Hindi channels—Big Magic, Zee Action and Zee Classic—to allay any anti-competitive concerns of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). In its order, CCI has noted that the aforementioned channels should not be sold to competitors Star India or Viacom18 Media or their respective affiliates.

Eros Media World Announces Association with Ministry of Investment in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MISA)

Eros Media World PLC, a global Indian media and entertainment company, has announced an association with the Ministry of Investment in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop investment opportunities and projects in the region.

As a part of this association, MISA will assist ErosMedia in its expansion in Saudi Arabia. MISA will also support ErosMedia in forging local partnerships and engaging with multiple investors. ErosMedia is committed to developing and producing content, enabling specialized knowledge transfer, and mounting feature films and episodic web-series – a full spectrum content ecosystem, enabled for web 3.0. in the region.

Delhi High Court issues notice in TRAI’s Application

The Delhi High Court issued notice in TRAI’s application seeking modification in the High Court’s order of September 28, 2022. In the said order, the Court had stayed the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) order directing Star, Sun, and Story Networks to provide the TRAI with information about the streaming of live linear channels by them on their OTT platforms. (Read more about it here)

Indian Army registers IPR of new design and camouflage pattern uniform

The Indian Army has obtained registration for its new combat uniform to establish ownership and ensure that action can be taken against the manufacturing by unauthorized vendors. The new pattern was unveiled on Army Day this year in January. Read more here.

The timeline for submissions for Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Fourth Amendment) Regulations 2022 has been extended by TRAI.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued the ‘Draft Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Fourth Amendment) Regulations 2022’ for stakeholder feedback/comments on September 9, 2022. The deadline for stakeholders to submit written comments has been set for October 7, 2022, with any counter-comments due by October 21, 2022. The deadline for submitting written comments was extended to November 4th, 2022, at the request of some stakeholders, and the deadline for submitting counter-comments, if any, was extended to November 18th, 2022.

IPS officer Amit Lodha Charged With Corruption Over Netflix Show ‘Khakee’

Amit Lodha, the Bihar IPS officer, who gained public attention after the release of ‘Khakee: The Bihar Chapter’, a Netflix series, was suspended after corruption charges were brought against him. The Special Vigilance Unit of Bihar registered a case against the officer on charges of corruption and for allegedly entering into a commercial agreement with the OTT platform while retaining a government post. The unit claimed that Amit Lodha signed a contract for commercial gains with a private firm while continuing to serve as an IPS officer and that he had agreed to enter into a deal with the firm that would produce a web series based on his book. They claimed that Amit Lodha is not an established story writer and had no authorization to write a book and use it for commercial purposes. The statement filed stated that the allegations were found to be true during an investigation conducted by the department. On the basis of these findings, a case was registered on 7th December, 2022 by the Special Vigilance Unit under sections 120B and 168 of the IPC along with the relevant sections of the 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act. Deputy Superintendent of Police level officer shall carry out any further investigation required.