Celebs, gaming companies get notices for ‘misleading’ ads (Here)

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has issued notices to gaming company 365 and three celebrities, including Nawazuddin Siddique and Urvashi Rautela, for endorsing a misleading advertisement. The advertisement, claiming that the company is “India’s most trusted sports exchange since 2015,” was published in newspapers and online platforms. The CCPA has taken suo moto cognizance of the matter and has asked the company to provide proof of its claims while seeking a response from the celebrities endorsing it. Earlier, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs urged celebrities to conduct proper due diligence before endorsing products or services.

Delhi High Court orders Google Enterprises to pay damages to Google LLC for trademark infringement 

Recently, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of Google LLC, ordering trading and consultancy firm Google Enterprises to pay ₹10 lakhs in damages for falsely presenting itself as a partner of the American tech giant and misusing its trademark. The defendants had created a fictitious Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) unit, which they claimed was associated with Google India, in an attempt to dupe the public into depositing money with the company for employment opportunities. The court found the defendants guilty of infringement and passing off and directed the Department of Technology to block access to their website. The court also ordered the defendants to hand over all printed matter bearing the ‘Google’ name/mark for destruction.

Supreme Court lifts telecast ban on Media One, stating that critical views on government policies are not anti-establishment, and criticizes the unguided and ad hoc use of sealed covers in courts. (Here)

The Supreme Court has lifted the telecast ban on the Malayalam channel Media One and criticized the government’s practice of branding critical views on government policies as “anti-establishment.” In a 134-page judgment, the court noted that an independent press is vital for the functioning of a democratic republic and has a duty to present citizens with hard facts. The court also criticized the state’s unguided and ad hoc use of sealed covers in courts, which infringes on citizens’ rights to personal liberty, life, and profession. The judgment was delivered by a Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, along with Justice Hima Kohli.

Madras High Court Restrains Vishal From Releasing Any Movie Without Depositing 15 Crores To The Credit Of Lyca (Here)

Actor Vishal’s loan of 21 crore rupees from Lyca Film Production Company was subject to an agreement which guaranteed Lyca the rights to all of Vishal’s films until the loan was fully repaid. Lyca filed a case against Vishal when he breached this guarantee by not repaying the loan and sought an injunction against the release of Vishal’s film Veerame Vaagai Soodum. The Madras High Court ordered Vishal to deposit Rs. 15 crores as a permanent deposit in the bank and submit property details. A division bench of Chief Justice Raja and Justice Bharatha Chakraborty upheld the single judge’s order and ruled that Vishal must pay Rs. 15 crore to the court. If the amount is not paid, they ordered that any films produced by Vishal Film Factory should not be released in theatres and OTT sites until the judgment of the case is pending before the single judge

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) books the director, and CEO of a five-star hotel in a copyright violation case (Here)

The director, CEO, general manager, executive manager, event manager and other top officials of a prestigious five-star hotel in Vile Parle (East), Mumbai have been charged in a case of copyright violation and cheating by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police. The hotel is accused of playing multiple hit movie songs on their premises between March 2021 and December 2022 without obtaining an “On Ground Performance” license from Novex Communication Private Ltd, a prominent copyright distribution management firm. Novex Communication Private Ltd is authorized by reputable film production and music companies for On Ground Performance of their films and songs. After discovering that the hotel was playing unauthorized songs, the company’s sales officer, Rishi Singh, sent a legal notice to the hotel, but the hotel continued to play the songs without a license. The complainant filed a complaint with the EOW, alleging that the hotel played songs for commercial programs and events for financial gain, causing losses worth Rs. 2.70 lakh. The FIR was lodged at the Airport police station on Wednesday, and the EOW’s CB control unit took over the investigation. EOW DCP (STF) M Pandit confirmed that the hotel has been charged with cheating and violating the Copyright Act. He added that the police are examining if the hotel has committed similar violations in the past.

Italy probes Meta over music copyright negotiations with Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE)

The parent company of Facebook, Meta, is under investigation by Italy’s competition watchdog for allegedly abusing its dominant position during copyright negotiations with Italian music artists. The Italian Competition Authority is investigating Meta’s “alleged abuse of economic dependence” of the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE), the public authority charged with protecting artists’ copyright in Italy. The SIAE had a contract with Meta that expired in December 2022, and unsuccessful renewal talks led to Meta cutting off negotiations and removing SIAE’s artists from all its platforms. (Here)

Government notifies the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 aimed to regulate online gaming

(Link to amendment: here; Amended Rules 2021: here)

Key Highlights:

  • Intermediaries are required to make a reasonable effort not to host, publish or share any online game that can cause the user harm, or that has not been verified as a permissible online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body/bodies designated by the central government.
  • The intermediary will also have to ensure that no advertisement, surrogate advertisement, or promotion of an online game that is not permissible, is hosted on its platform.
  • Further, the amended rules now also make it obligatory for the intermediaries not to publish, share or host fake, false or misleading information in respect of any business of the Central Government. The fake, false or misleading information will be identified by the notified Fact Check Unit of the central government.
  • Additional due diligence to be observed by significant social media intermediaries have been extended for online gaming intermediaries  requiring them to have to display a demonstrable and visible mark of verification of such online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body on such permissible online real money game. Further such online gaming intermediaries shall not itself finance or enable financing to be offered by third party.
  • The Ministry can designate as many online gaming self-regulatory bodies as it thinks is necessary for verifying an online real money game.
  • Every order passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be complied with by the intermediary concerned or the online gaming self-regulatory body concerned, as the case may be, and a report to that effect shall be uploaded on its website.
  • A significant social media intermediary and an online gaming intermediary who enables the users to access any permissible online real money game shall have a physical contact address in India published on its website, mobile based application or both, as the case may be, for the purposes of receiving the communication addressed to it.

MIB issues advisory on advertisement of online betting platforms

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has advised media entities, media platforms and the online advertisement intermediaries to refrain from carrying advertisements/promotional content of betting platforms. 

The Advisory has been issued to all media formats, including newspapers, television channels, and online news publishers, and showed specific examples where such advertisements have appeared in the media in recent times. This is a third instance of MIB issuing such an advisory.

The Ministry has also objected to the promotion by a specific betting platform encouraging the audience to watch a sports league on its website, which prima facie appears to be in violation of the Copyright Act, 1957.

While emphasizing on the legal obligation as well as the moral duty of the media, the Advisory refers to provisions of the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council which, interalia, mentions that “newspapers should not publish an advertisement containing anything which is unlawful or illegal…………”, and further that “The newspapers and periodicals should scrutinize the advertisement inputs from ethical as well as legal angles in view of the editor’s responsibility for all contents including advertisement, under Section 7 of PRB Act, 1867. Revenue generation alone cannot and should not be the sole aim of the Press, juxtaposed much larger public responsibility”.

The Ministry had earlier issued Advisories in the months of June and October, 2022 stating that betting and gambling are illegal, and hence direct or surrogate advertisements of such activities falls foul of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the Press Council Act 1978, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and other relevant statutes.

The Advisory issued can be accessed here.

Bombay High Court denies interim relief to ‘Phonepe’ in trademark infringement suit; Holds that trademarks ‘phonepe’ and ‘postpe’ have no phonetic similarity

The Bombay High Court refused to grant interim relief to PhonePe for alleged infringement of its trademark “PhonePe” by Resilient Innovations’ trademark “postpe”. Justice Manish Pitale cited contradictions between PhonePe’s stand taken before the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court regarding the meaning of the word “pe”

PhonePe Private Ltd. in the present case claimed that the suffix “Pe” after the word “Phone” in its trademark has the colloquial Hindi meaning “On”. Therefore, PhonePe means services on the phone, it said. However, in a 2019 suit pending before the Delhi High Court for alleged infringement of “PhonePe” through defendant’s mark “BharatPe”, the plaintiff has claimed that the term “Pe” means the action of payment and it was a misspelling of the word “Pay”.

The Court affirmed the findings of the Delhi High Court in the earlier suit and noted, that whether the claim of the plaintiff’s suffix ‘pe’ had acquired distinctiveness and secondary meaning to the extent that the consuming public now invariably associated the mark with only the services provided by the plaintiff, is a matter for trial. Thus, when the remaining parts of the marks i.e., ‘phone’ and ‘post’ were compared, the Court did not find a prima facie case made out by the plaintiff about the similarity between the two. The Court said that “the words, ‘phone’ and ‘post’ have distinct dictionary meanings with no possibility of confusion between the two. The Court did not find phonetic similarity between the two marks, for the plaintiff to claim that a strong prima facie case was made out to grant interim relief”.

Read order here.

(Link here)

By way of a gazette notification issued on April 5th, the Madras High Court has notified the Madras High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2022.
Pursuant to enactment of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 on 13.8.2021, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board and some other tribunals were abolished under Sec.33 of the said Act and consequently, the proceedings hitherto pending and filed before such tribunals were transferred to the High Courts under various provisions of the said Act. Further, the High Court of Madras constituted the Intellectual Property committee to formulate the procedures, consequent thereto. Upon the recommendation of the Committee, Madras High Court has created the Intellectual Property Division (hereinafter referred to as “the IPD”) in the High Court to deal with matters relating to Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”). In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 129 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and Clauses 37 and 38 of the Letters Patent,1865 and the powers conferred under the various Intellectual Property statutes as amended by the said Act, the Madras High Court hereby makes the following Rules governing the matters listed before the IP Division with respect to practice and procedure for the exercise of its ordinary original, appellate, criminal and writ jurisdiction. The Intellectual Property statutes include The Trade Marks Act, 1999; The Copyright Act, 1957; The Patents Act, 1970; The Designs Act, 2000; The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999; The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001; The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits LayoutDesign Act, 2000 for the purposes of these Rules.