Supreme Court stays release of ‘Hamare Baraah’ movie

The Supreme Court has temporarily halted the release of the film ‘Hamare Baraah’ pending a review and resolution by the Bombay High Court regarding its controversial scenes. The film ‘Ham Do Hamare Baraah’ triggered unrest within the Muslim community due to its trailer, which allegedly portrayed the community in a negative manner by distorting Quranic verses to attribute blame to Muslims for population growth. This sparked widespread outrage and condemnation.

A vacation bench consisting of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta acknowledged the arguments presented by lawyer Fauzia Shakil, representing petitioner Azhar Basha Tamboli. They urged the Bombay High Court to promptly adjudicate on the plea.

Read order here.

Delhi High Court upholds personality rights of Aap Ki Adalat fame, Rajat Sharma

The Delhi High Court recently issued an injunction prohibiting Mr. Ravindra Kumar Choudhary from using photos, videos, or the name of Rajat Sharma in any form such as trademark, logo, trading style, domain name, social media posts, audio-video content, or in connection with any services. This measure aims to prevent any infringement of the journalist’s personality rights.

The High Court ordered the individual claiming to be a political satirist to cease using ‘Jhandiya TV’ and ‘Baap Ki Adalat’. These names were deemed deceptively similar to journalist Rajat Sharma’s news channel India TV and his renowned program ‘Aap Ki Adalat’.

The Plaintiffs, known for their 24-hour Hindi news channel “INDIA TV,” obtained permission from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, to uplink the channel in 2002. They hold registered trademarks including “INDIA TV” and “AAP KI ADALAT,” a popular television program known for interviewing prominent personalities and gaining substantial popularity over the years.

In their application under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), part of a suit seeking a permanent injunction, the Plaintiffs raised concerns against the self-proclaimed political satirist. He had been producing and publishing various video and audio content on social media platforms. The Plaintiffs alleged that the alleged satirist was using the mark/logo “Baap Ki Adalat,” which closely resembled their trademark/logo “AAP KI ADALAT.” They argued that satirist’s manner of usage was identical to their own, causing confusion among the public and infringing on their registered trademarks.

Read order here.

June 18 2024 – The deadline issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for self-declaration on advertisements

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has mandated that the self-declaration of advertisements must be completed by June 18, as reported by The Economic Times following a meeting with representatives from advertising and media bodies.

The meeting, chaired by MIB secretary Sanjay Jaju, included attendees such as Sam Balsara, representing media agencies from Madison World; Sidharth Jain, secretary of Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation; Manisha Kapoor from the Advertising Standards Council of India; and Satya Raghavan from Google India, among others.

In a note to its members, the ASCI stated that there is significant ambiguity in implementing the SDC mandate. Further clarity on this issue is expected to emerge only on July 9, when the matter will be presented before the Supreme Court, the report stated.

Advertisers would be required to obtain SDCs via the Broadcast Seva portal for television and radio advertisements and through the Press Council of India (PCI) portal for print and digital advertisements.

Read our detailed post here.

The personality rights of Director, Karan Johar were upheld by the Bombay High Court while restraining the release of the film – ‘Shaadi ke director Karan aur Johar’

In Karan Johar v IndiaPride Advisory Private Limited, the Bombay High Court issued a restraining order against the release of the film “Shaadi Ke Director Karan Aur Johar.” The court also prohibited the use of any promotional material related to the film. The decision came after finding a strong prima facie case that the filmmakers had unauthorizedly utilized filmmaker Karan Johar’s name and personality.

The plea was filed against the movie’s producers, IndiaPride Advisory and Sanjay Singh, and writer-director Bablu Singh, concerning the use of Karan Johar’s name in the film’s title. Despite not directly using the name “Karan Johar” in the title “Shaadi Ke Director Karan Aur Johar,” it is implied and understood to refer to him, given his prominent stature in the media industry. The plea alleges that this implied reference has significantly harmed Johar’s reputation and goodwill. The film was scheduled for release on June 14.

Justice RI Chagla stated in his order, “In my opinion, the plaintiff has presented a strong prima facie case to safeguard his personality rights, which are inherent to him given his status as a celebrity, evident from his involvement in numerous blockbuster films as both director and producer. It is beyond doubt that the plaintiff has played a pivotal role in shaping the Bollywood film industry and launching the careers of numerous successful actors. There is no doubt, prima facie, that the film in question directly refers to the plaintiff and improperly uses his name.”

The case has been adjourned until July 10.

Read order here.

Gujarat High Court orders interim stay on release of the film ‘Maharaj’ starring Junaid Khan in prominent roles

The Gujarat High Court, under the ad-interim order issued by Justice Sangeetha K Vishen, has halted the release of the film “Maharaj,” which features Junaid Khan, son of actor Aamir Khan. The film, produced by Yashraj Films and scheduled for release on Netflix today, has been stayed until the next hearing. Notices have been issued to Yashraj Films, Netflix India, and other parties involved in the matter.

The decision to stay the release of the film “Maharaj,” featuring Junaid Khan, came in response to a plea filed on behalf of devotees of Lord Krishna and followers of the Pustimarg sect. They expressed concerns that the movie could potentially disrupt public order and provoke violence against their sect and the Hindu religion.

The petitioners argued that the film is allegedly based on the Libel Case of 1862, which involved what they described as severely blasphemous remarks about Hinduism, Lord Krishna, and devotional songs and hymns, as adjudicated by English judges of the Supreme Court of Bombay at the time.

The petitioners additionally contended that the release of “Maharaj” was being conducted clandestinely, without any trailers or promotional events, purportedly to conceal its contentious storyline. They voiced apprehensions that the film’s release could inflict irreparable harm on their religious sentiments. Despite making urgent appeals to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to intervene and prevent the film’s release, they reported receiving no response.

Highlighting the extensive global reach of OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms like Netflix, the petitioners emphasized the difficulty in mitigating the repercussions once the film is made available to such a wide audience.

The Gujarat High Court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on June 18.

Read our detailed post here.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducts raid on multiple premises linked to FairPlay app under PMLA Act 2002

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids on June 12 at multiple locations associated with the Fairplay app, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002. During these operations in Mumbai and Pune, ED seized assets totaling Rs 8 crore, including cash, bank funds, luxury watches, and digital devices. Fairplay app was allegedly involved in illegal activities such as broadcasting cricket/IPL matches without authorization, online betting, and influencing election results.

The investigation, prompted by an FIR filed by Viacom18 Media Private Limited, accused Fairplay Sport LLC and others of causing revenue losses exceeding Rs 100 crore through these illicit practices. ED’s findings revealed that Fairplay executed agreements with Indian agencies without proper due diligence, partnering with foreign entities based in Dubai and Curacao.

The funds collected by Fairplay allegedly passed through a complex network of shell bank accounts and were ultimately transferred to pharma companies engaged in fraudulent billing. These funds were then routed further to overseas shell entities in Hong Kong SAR, China, and Dubai. The ED is scrutinizing over 400 bank accounts associated with these entities to trace the flow and utilization of funds acquired through public investment in Fairplay.

The matter is ongoing, with further hearings scheduled for June 18 to address the legal implications and ramifications of Fairplay’s activities.

Plea by Pocket FM against Disney + Hotstar’s Telugu video web series – Yakshini dismissed by Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has rejected Pocket FM’s request for an interim injunction against Disney+ Hotstar’s Telugu video web series ‘Yakshini’ for purported copyright infringements.

Pocket FM filed a court petition alleging that Disney+ Hotstar’s video series bore significant similarities to its own audio series of the same name. The audio platform further asserted that it had provided its audio series titled ‘Yakshini’ to Disney+ Hotstar with the intention of adapting it into a video series.

In its defence, Disney+ Hotstar contended that the concept for its web series was not derived from Pocket FM’s audio series. Disney+ Hotstar emphasized that Yakshini is a well-known mythological character with extensive literary references, and their video web series was adapted based on this existing literature. Thus, Disney+ Hotstar argued that there was no basis for alleging that they had infringed on Pocket FM’s intellectual property rights.

Meanwhile, the bench has posted Pocket FM’s main appeal for hearing on July 10.

Ilaiyaraaja’s copyright claims challenged by Echo Recording before the Madras High Court

In a significant legal dispute before the Madras High Court, Echo Recording Company has argued that renowned composer Ilaiyaraaja cannot claim rights to the songs he composed between 1970 and 1990 because he did not retain copyrights from the film producers, unlike contemporary composer A.R. Rahman.

Echo’s appeal, challenging a single judge’s decision recognizing Ilaiyaraaja’s special rights over the 4,500 songs he composed during the specified period, was heard by a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq.

Senior counsel Vijay Narayan, representing Echo, argued that under the usual practice in the film industry, composers like Ilaiyaraaja were commissioned by producers to create music for their films and were compensated for their services. Narayan contended that according to copyright norms prevalent at that time, the ownership of these songs rested with the producers who had commissioned the work, not the composers.

Narayan emphasized that Ilaiyaraaja did not have explicit agreements with producers to retain copyright, unlike A.R. Rahman who secured his rights through such agreements. Echo Recording Company asserted that they had legally acquired the rights to the songs from the respective film producers and therefore, Ilaiyaraaja’s claims were unfounded.

Echo’s counsel also referenced Section 57 of the Copyright Act, 2012, which grants moral rights to creators to protect their work from derogatory treatment. However, Narayan argued that Echo had not distorted or mutilated Ilaiyaraaja’s works in any way that would allow the composer to invoke these moral rights to claim ownership.

This case underscores the complexities within copyright laws in the film industry, particularly concerning the works of iconic artists like Ilaiyaraaja. The outcome of this legal battle will likely set precedent on the ownership and distribution rights of musical works created during the pre-digital era of Indian cinema, impacting both composers and producers in the industry.

YouTube removes viral track “Bado Badi” by Chahat Fateh Ali Khan

The viral song “Bado Badi” by Pakistani singer Chahat Fateh Ali Khan has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright infringement claim. The song, which amassed over 25 million views within a month of its release, allegedly bore significant similarities to the classic song “Akh Lari Bado Badi” by legendary singer Noor Jehan from the 1973 film “Banarsi Thug.”

The copyright claim, reportedly initiated by Noor Jehan’s team or rights holders, asserted that “Bado Badi” reproduced elements of the melody and composition from “Akh Lari Bado Badi.” This led to the removal of Chahat Fateh Ali Khan’s version from YouTube.

Initially, “Bado Badi” was noted for its unconventional style and quickly became a social media sensation, inspiring memes and content creation on platforms like Instagram Reels. The song’s popularity extended across borders, gaining substantial traction in India and generating significant online buzz.

As a result of the copyright infringement claim, Khan’s official channel no longer hosts the video for “Bado Badi.” This incident highlights the importance of respecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the context of music and cultural works with enduring legacies.



D2C brands are reducing advertisements fearing violation of ASCI code

Several large direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are reducing advertisements and influencer posts in response to increasing complaints about misleading ad claims and violations of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) code.

Honasa Consumer, the maker of personal care products such as Mamaearth, which heavily relied on influencer marketing since its inception in 2016, has noticeably decreased influencer posts for more than a week. A spokesperson from Honasa Consumer stated via email that the company recognizes the evolving challenges within the advertising and marketing landscape.

Honasa Consumer, known for its toxin-free skincare products such as lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen, was identified as the top violator of advertising standards for the fiscal year 2024, with 187 violations, according to ASCI’s recent annual report. The report also flagged other brands under Honasa Consumer’s umbrella, such as Dr Sheth’s Skin and Hair Clinic, Aqualogica, The Derma Co, and Ayuga, for advertising violations.

ASCI, in collaboration with the Department of Consumer Affairs, reviewed a total of 10,093 complaints and investigated 8,299 advertisements for misleading claims and the promotion of potentially harmful products. The report additionally highlighted several other prominent D2C players, including HealthKart, FirstCry, and Lenskart, for their non-compliance with advertising standards.

Kalki 2898 AD reiterates its ownership vide copyright notice ahead of movie release

Kalki 2989 AD makers have shared a legal copyright notice to restrict leaks of footage and pictures on social media. Vyjayanthi Movies has issued a formal copyright notice asserting their exclusive ownership of all copyright and intellectual property rights related to the film titled “KALKI 2898 AD,” including its scenes, music, footage, stills, and other materials. They have explicitly stated that any sharing of these materials, whether on social media or otherwise, constitutes a criminal offense punishable under the Copyright Act, 1957, and other applicable statutes.

The notice, shared on Instagram, emphasizes that sharing or leaking any information or materials from the film without authorization will result in criminal proceedings. Vyjayanthi Movies has indicated their readiness to initiate legal action supported by Cyber Police against individuals found guilty of such infringements.

In their caption accompanying the notice, Vyjayanthi Movies reiterated the seriousness of their stance, highlighting that all components of “KALKI 2898 AD” are protected by copyright laws and that they will take necessary legal measures to enforce their rights.

This notice serves as a clear warning against unauthorized dissemination of copyrighted content and underscores the production house’s commitment to protecting their intellectual property.

IT Ministry holds meeting on June 13 to discuss draft Digital Competition Bill with industry bodies

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) has arranged a meeting with industry associations on Thursday to gather their perspectives on the draft Digital Competition law. This draft has sparked contention between startups and tech giants over specific provisions. The meeting, led by IT Secretary S Krishnan, aims to discuss these issues in depth. The IT Ministry has stated in its meeting notice, reviewed by PTI, that it is receiving numerous representations from industry associations regarding the draft digital competition Bill. These representations express significant concerns about the potential impact of the proposed Bill on data and digital markets.


McDonald’s Lost Big Mac In EU

In a significant legal development, McDonald’s has lost the trademark for “Big Mac” in the European Union to Supermac’s, an Irish fast-food chain. The General Court, the second highest court in Europe, delivered its verdict on June 5, 2024, ruling against McDonald’s in a longstanding dispute.

McDonald’s had argued that it should retain exclusive rights to the “Big Mac” trademark, including for chicken sandwiches, but the court rejected this claim. The court found that McDonald’s failed to demonstrate sufficient evidence that it had been actively using the “Big Mac” trademark for poultry products for at least five consecutive years.

This decision marks a significant setback for McDonald’s in the EU, where it can no longer claim sole ownership of the “Big Mac” trademark for certain food products. The ruling underscores the importance of continuous and demonstrable use of trademarks to maintain legal protections, even for global brands like McDonald’s.

Supreme Court upholds rejection of “Trump Too Small” trademark in free speech dispute

In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) did not violate the First Amendment by refusing to register a trademark for the phrase “Trump Too Small.” The Court’s ruling overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which had argued that barring the registration of such trademarks under federal law restricted free speech.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, emphasized that the historical practice of restricting trademarks containing names is consistent with the First Amendment. The Court determined that the federal law prohibiting trademarks that include a living person’s name without their consent does not infringe on free speech rights. Importantly, the decision was characterized as narrow in scope, specifically addressing the issue of trademarks involving personal names.

This ruling clarifies the legal framework surrounding trademarks and free speech, affirming the government’s authority to regulate trademarks involving individuals’ names under existing laws without violating constitutional protections.

Sharing news website subscription password not copyright infringement, Federal Court of Canada holds

In a notable legal case concerning copyright protection and users’ “fair dealing” rights under the Copyright Act, the Federal Court has ruled that a federal government department’s act of sharing a media subscription password did not constitute prohibited circumvention of a technological protective measure.

The decision underscores the court’s interpretation that the sharing of a password for accessing a media subscription service did not violate the provisions aimed at preventing the circumvention of technological measures put in place to protect copyrighted content. This ruling likely hinges on the specific circumstances of the case, such as whether the sharing of the password constituted an actual circumvention of a technological barrier or if it fell within permissible use under fair dealing provisions.

Overall, this case highlights the ongoing legal debates surrounding digital access to copyrighted materials and the boundaries of fair use and technological protections in the digital age.