In the case of Living Media India Limited and Anr v. AabTak Channel.com (John Does) and Ors., CS (COMM) 193/2022 & I.As.4841-43/2022, the Delhi High Court ordered several social media networks such as Google, Twitter, Facebook to remove almost 30 social network accounts on the account of violating the trademark of the well-known television channel ‘Aaj Tak’.
Living Media India Limited (hereinafter referred to as “the Plaintiff”) had registered the mark ‘AAJ TAK’ which is a notable label and is utilized broadly in the field of media and telecommunications. The Plaintiff had made different records, profiles and handles via social media and content sharing stages, for example, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and so forth wherein they have a large number of subscribers.
It came to the notice of the Plaintiffs that different known and unknown groups had begun utilizing the Plaintiff’s label ‘AAJ TAK’ on internet-based platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. It was further asserted that different groups had likewise posted recordings utilizing the label which was either extracted from the symbol or label ‘AAJ TAK’ or the word ‘TAK’ was emphasized upon and used as an addition.
The Defendants herein were unknown websites, YouTube channels, online entertainment pages, virtual entertainment handles, and web-based entertainment accounts which were allegedly infringing upon the registered mark of the Plaintiffs by utilizing their mark unlawfully and unauthorizedly.
ISSUE BEFORE THE HIGH COURT
Whether the trademark of the Plaintiff was being infringed upon by the Defendants?
CONTENTION OF THE PARTIES
The Plaintiff contended that the indiscriminate use of the ‘AAJ TAK’ mark on varied online platforms has severely infringed upon the Plaintiff’s mark and has an adverse effect on the Plaintiff’s rights as the rightful trademark owner.
The Plaintiff asserted that it is a well-known brand in the Indian television, media and entertainment sector and thus such infringement would impinge upon the Plaintiff’s well-established goodwill and brand name.
On the other hand, Twitter and Google, who were among the Defendants herein stated that they were just middlemen/intermediary and upon the order of the Delhi High Court (hereinafter referred to as “the High Court”), the said posts, profiles or records would be brought down.
DECISIONS AND FINDINGS
The High Court was prima facie convinced that a case was made out for grant of an ad-interim injunction against some of the Defendants. The High Court examined in detail the different impugned marks and compared the same with the Plaintiff’s marks.
After considering the plaint and the allegations made therein, as well as the archives put on record, the High Court observed that the reputation and goodwill of the Plaintiff’s brand cannot be questioned as the Plaintiff has been a common name in the Indian households for years.
The High Court noted that the suffix ‘TAK’ is additionally utilized by the Plaintiffs in regard to different projects and web-based entertainment records, profiles, and handles and hence, the Plaintiffs’ privileges should be safeguarded.
As to unknown Defendants depicted as John Does, the High Court held that wherever the imprint ‘AAJ TAK’ is indistinguishably utilized on a web-based platform like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or in any other recordings, the equivalent will be brought down within 36 working hours upon information, including the respective URLs.
The High Court further held that on account of a tricky/similar logo or an alternate imprint wherein either the word ‘AAJ’ or ‘TAK’ is incorporated in the imprint, the respective virtual platform shall bring down the said page/video/post within a timeline of 36 working hours according to the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
On account of pages/recordings/posts wherein the platforms don’t take the content down within a span of a day and a half, the High Court stated that intimation would be given to the Plaintiffs, whereupon the Plaintiffs would be allowed to seek remedy as per the respective regulations.
A John Doe order is a pre-infringement injunction order which is issued to safeguard the rights of an intellectual property (hereinafter referred to as “IP”) owner. With the advent of the Internet, infringement of any IP is extremely likely and might often go unnoticed.
In the backdrop of the same, it is essential for social media and various other Internet platforms which allows their users to make accounts in order to post and upload content, to make sure that the uploads on their sites are adhering to the legal guidelines and are not infringing upon the IP rights of any IP owner.
However, in majority of the cases, it is often observed that the social media platforms claim that they are merely ‘intermediaries’ and have no direct relation with regards to the infringement. Even though that may be the case, the social media platforms and websites should be vigilant about the content available on their platforms.
Additionally, if the intermediary platforms receive any intimation regarding bringing down any content as it is infringing upon any registered mark, the platforms should be quick in taking down such content as the same might have an adverse effect on the reputation of the well-established brands.
-Team AMLEGALS assisted by Ms. Amrita Ghosh (Intern)
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