Kantara Plagiarism row: Kerala HC stays FIR against Prithviraj Sukumaran

The Kerala High Court has stayed the FIR registered against Malayalam actor and producer Prithviraj Sukumaran in connection with the alleged copyright infringement of the song ‘Varaharoopam’ from the Kannada movie ‘Kantara’. Prithviraj was also the distributor of the Film.

While staying the FIR, the Single Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas observed, “As a mere distributor of the film in Kerala, the actor was unnecessarily being dragged into and that initiating copyright infringement proceedings against him was stretching it too far. Prima facie, I am satisfied that the petitioner as a distributor of a movie cannot be mulcted with infringement of copyright merely for distributing a movie in one of the states in the country. As a director of the Company ‘Prithviraj Productions Private Limited’, merely facilitated the distribution of the film in Kerala and was not involved in the production of the film or in the making of its music in any capacity. The company stopped the distribution of the film on 04.11.2022. The role of his company as a distributor of the film is limited to acting as an intermediary that distributes the films through theatres after obtaining distribution rights from the producer.”

Maharashtra Court Rejects Petition To Restrain ‘Besharam Rang’ Song On YouTube

A Maharashtra civil court recently rejected a plea seeking temporary injunction to restrain production house Yash Raj Films from streaming of teasers of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Pathaan’ movie and its ‘Besharam Rang’ song on YouTube without showing U/A censor certificate.

The petitioner claimed that it was necessary under the Cinematography Act to display the U/A certificate before publishing an advertisement in newspapers, hoardings, trailers and teasers. He claimed that not showing the certificate was causing loss to him and the society. The petitioner did not say what loss he was referring to. The Counsel representing Yash Raj Films, argued that the suit was misleading. He said there was no rule that the censor board certificate has to be shown when publishing an advertisement on an over-the-top platform.

After hearing the Parties, the court noted ‘If the said relief is granted, it is as good as the final relief. Hence, relief cannot be granted

Moreover, from the contentions of the plaintiff, no prima facie case is made out. Plaintiff must come off with something to show foundation for his claim,” the court ruled.

Delhi High Court rejects Sci-Hub founder’s plea seeking rejection of copyright infringement lawsuit of publishing houses.

The Delhi High Court has dismissed the application of Alexandra Elbakyan, founder of shadow library website Sci Hub, seeking rejection of plaint filed by publishing houses Elsevier, Wiley and American Chemical Society in a copyright infringement suit against her.

The suit was filed by major publishing houses Elsevier, Wiley India, Wiley Periodicals and American Chemical Society against online repositories Sci Hub and Libgen. The publishers have said the websites indulge in online piracy by making their literary work available to the public for free.

Elbakyan moved the high court seeking rejection of the copyright lawsuit claiming that it does not disclose the cause of action. She said that the assignment agreements relied upon by the publishing houses do not confer ownership of copyrights in the literary works. It was her case that agreements relating to copyrights must specify royalty or some other form of consideration, without which there cannot be assignment of any copyright. Elbakyan relied upon the Indian Contract Act to contend that an agreement without consideration is void.

The Court dismissed the application as not maintainable and noted that Elbakyan has categorically admitted copyright ownership of publishing houses in her written statement. The Court further noted that the 15 assignment agreements were submitted by the publishers which “serve as an exemplar of the substantial number of agreements executed between” the publishers and the authors who vested the former with the exclusive rights over the literary works.

Read order here.

Kerala HC to hear AIDCF’s appeal against disconnection notices by broadcasters on Feb 20, 2023

The Kerala High Court will hear an urgent matter on February 20, 2023 pressed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) against broadcasters Disney Star, Sony, and Zee to restore signals disconnected by them since Saturday. The move by the broadcasters came following the disconnection notices issued by them to AIDCF members last week. The blackout has come in the wake of a clash between cable operators and broadcasters over television (TV) channel pricing, following the implementation of a new tariff order (NTO) 3.0 on February 1, 2023. In the notice, broadcasters have given cable operators 48 hours to sign the RIO, failing which it was stated actions, including disconnections of signals, will be taken against them,

The AIDCF includes top cable companies such as Hathway, Den, GTPL, all owned by Reliance Industries, NXTDIGITAL, part of Hinduja Group, Asianet Digital Network, owned by Rajan Raheja Group, Kerala Communicators Cable, and UCN Cable Network, both regional cable operators.

Read more here.

Trademark: KFC has no exclusivity over word ‘Chicken’, But Trademark Registry Can Consider Its Application For ‘Chicken Zinger’

The Delhi High Court allowed the fast-food giant, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), to register the word “Chicken Zinger” as a trademark in Class 29.

Justice Sanjeev Narula has overturned the Senior Examiner of Trademarks’ decision to reject KFC’s application to trademark “Chicken Zinger” in December 2018. The Trademarks officer had dismissed KFC’s application under Section 9(1)(b) of the Trademarks Act holding the trademark “CHICKEN ZINGER’ descriptive of the goods or services under which it was applied. The same was challenged before the Delhi High Court.

The High Court opined that the combination of the words “Zinger” and “Chicken” can only be suggestive of the product, and not descriptive. Further, the court observed the subject mark has 2 words, “Zinger” and “Chicken”. “The dictionary meaning of “Zinger” is “a thing outstandingly good of its kind” or “a wisecrack; punch line” or “a surprise question; an unexpected turn of events.” Hon’ble Justice Sanjeev Narula clarified that KFC has no exclusivity over the word “Chicken” and no such claim has been asserted.   The Court also noted that KFC had already obtained trademark registrations for other marks containing the word “Zinger” in the same class as the proposed trademark for “Chicken Zinger” (Class 29).

The High Court allowed the appeal and directed the  Trademark Registry to consider the application for “Chicken Zinger” in Class 29.

Click here to read order.

Trademark: Delhi High Court declares the H device of Hermes International as well-known trademark

In a trademark infringement suit filed by Hermes International, one of the prayers by HERMES is that the mark of Hermes is declared as a well-known trademark within the meaning of Section 2(1)(zg) of The Trade Marks Act, 1999.

The court delved into the five factors (enumerated in Section 11(6) of the Trade Mark Act) that are relevant for determining whether a mark is “eligible for being declared a well-known trademark”

It is also pertinent to note that Hermes submitted that the “relevant section of the public” to which Sections 11(6)(i) and 11(7) of the Trade Marks Act 1999 refers should be assessed vis-à-vis the relevant section of the public where goods in question are intended to cater. i.e. the fashion industry in this case.

The Court was convinced that the five factors required under the law and knowledge among the relevant sections of the public are satisfied, and accordingly accorded the H device mark, the status of a well-known trademark under Section 2(1)(zg) of the Trade Marks Act 1999.

Click here to read order.