Patanjali Ayurved obtains ex-parte ad interim injunction order against Facebook, Google & Youtube to block certain videos disparaging Patanjali products

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Patanjali Ayurved has obtained an ex-parte ad interim injunction order from Delhi High Court against Facebook, Google & Youtube to take down/ remove or block/ restrict access to the URLs/ Weblinks which contain or purport to contain a video in Tamil language disparaging of the Atta manufactured and sold by Patanjali under its mark ‘Patanjali’.

The Plaintiff contended that the Defendants No. 1 to 3 were notified about the contents of the video available on their platform being disparaging of the plaintiff’s product and called upon them to block the same, which the said defendants failed to do so.

The Plaintiff also impleaded Ashok Kumar (John Doe/ unknown defendants) who are responsible for uploading the said video on the platforms of the Defendants 1 to 3.

The Court issued summons of the suit and notice of application for interim relief to the defendants and directed Defendants no. 1 to 3 to take down/ remove or block/ restrict access to the URLs/ weblinks provided by the Plaintiff as well as disclose the identity of the registrant of the said URLs on the next date of hearing.

[Order copy available on Bar and Bench here. Copy not yet uploaded on the Delhi HC website]

A similar ex-parte injunction order was obtained earlier this month by Pepsico against Facebook and Youtube from Delhi High Court for hosting a video showing Lays chips to be harmful for consumption. As covered in my post here, the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India had construed Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 in such a manner that removal of content online may only occur if an adjudicatory body issues an order compelling intermediaries to remove the content. The said decision shields intermediaries from liability unless they fail to comply with an order directing them to remove the illegal content, rather than merely a private party request. Section 79 of the IT Act provides that safe harbors from liability for online intermediaries could be suspended if the intermediary fails to take down content upon “receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate Government or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to commit [an] unlawful act”.

The Supreme Court had held that “Section 79(3)(b) has to be read down to mean that the intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge that a court order has been passed asking it to expeditiously remove or disable access to certain material must then fail to expeditiously remove or disable access to that material. This is for the reason that otherwise it would be very difficult for intermediaries like Google, Facebook etc. to act when millions of requests are made and the intermediary is then to judge as to which of such requests are legitimate and which are not. We have been informed that in other countries worldwide this view has gained acceptance, Argentina being in the forefront. Also, the Court order and/or the notification by the appropriate Government or its agency must strictly conform to the subject matters laid down in Article 19(2). Unlawful acts beyond what is laid down in Article 19(2) obviously cannot form any part of Section 79. With these two caveats, we refrain from striking down Section 79(3)(b)….

.. Section 79 is valid subject to Section 79(3)(b) being read down to mean that an intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge from a court order or on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency that unlawful acts relatable to Article 19(2) are going to be committed then fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to such material. Similarly, the Information Technology “Intermediary Guidelines” Rules, 2011 are valid subject to Rule 3 sub-rule (4) being read down in the same manner as indicated in the judgment.”

It is therefore likely that compliance by the defendants of the Court order would shield them from any further liability in this case.

Image source: here