Bombay High Court grants interim injunction to Endemol Shine for infringement of ‘Bigg Boss’ mark
This order comes under the ordinary and original civil jurisdiction of the High Court of judicator at Bombay. The applicants are Endemol Shine Nederland Producties B.V. & Ors., which are also the petitioners in the original suit. The defendants in the same are Angel Singh, aka Lucky Trading, and two others.
THE BACKGROUND AND FACTS
The plaintiffs brought the action for infringement of their registered trademarks and copyrights, in addition to a cause of action filed for passing off.
The plaintiffs form a part of the Endemol Shine Group, one of the biggest global content creators, producers, and distributors with hits like Black Mirror, Broadchurch, etc. The plaintiff is the world’s largest independent producer of television and digital content with a production company based in 20 countries, and its number is 120.
One of the most popular reality shows created by the Endemol Shine Group is ‘Big Brother’, produced in 1998 in the Netherlands, which was its home country. In this show, the contestants competing would be filmed on a 24*7 basis, and they would try to avoid eviction based on the votes they would get. The plaintiff produced many seasons, and they are the first owner of the copyright.
Although the production Bible is confidential, the format/concept can be easily discerned by the general public. There have been various adaptations of the show too.
It is stated that the said Programme is produced under the Plaintiffs’ strict instructions/supervisions for valuable consideration and at the instance of the Plaintiffs and even the show Big Boss qualifies as a cinematographic film under the Copyright Act, 1957.
Plaintiff no. 3, i.e., Endemol India Pvt. Ltd launched the first season of its TV show Bigg Boss in November 2006, and it was an instant hit among the Indian consumer base, so much so that 15 seasons have been produced till date. The show is now produced in regional languages too by the same plaintiff. The plaintiff is the registered proprietor of the word mark ‘BIGG BOSS.’ The details of the eye logo of Bigg boss are one of the leading, essential, and prominent features of the show. The show’s popularity has also established immense goodwill and recognition around the world. Therefore, by such long and extensive use and promotion, the Plaintiffs have acquired valuable rights, including common law rights in the format of the Bigg Boss show and its Unique Elements.
THE INFRINGEMENT OF PLAINTIFF’S RIGHTS
The plaintiffs found out on 14.11.2021 that there was a poster for the audition for a show titled ‘999 The Big Boss Jammu’, wherein the public was invited to come for an audition. The show’s poster also has the impugned ‘device of the eye’ identical with and deceptively similar to the Plaintiffs’ Big Brother, Bigg Boss, Bigg Boss Formative Marks. Any element in the market connected to the Plaintiffs’ ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Big Boss’ is bound to create confusion. The alleged defendants are promoting the show on their social media handles/accounts. The show will be similar to the one hosted by famous Bollywood actor Salman khan.
This conduct was considered a blatant violation of the Plaintiffs’ rights in their Bigg Boss show. The defendants intend to compete with Bollywood ka ‘Bigg Boss’ by making Jollywood ka big boss in the state of Jammu. One of the plaintiffs claimed that one of the defendants had also produced a show called ‘Coffee with Ayaan’, which was a replica of the show ‘Coffee with Karan’, which depicts that the defendants are habitual offenders in this respect.
The plaintiffs have thus claimed that the defendants have been creating fake Bigg boss content and fooling the public in Jammu. The defendant thereby infringed the Plaintiffs’ rights in Big Brother, Bigg Boss, Bigg Boss Formative Marks, and the copyright in the Bigg Boss Show in the said Production Bible and Programme. The defendants have also been selling or used to sell counterfeit/replicas of clothes, shoes, watches, bags of expensive designer brands, which shows their intent towards the alleged infringement. Therefore, it has been submitted by the plaintiffs that the defendant’s acts amount to a violation of trademarks, copyright, and passing off.
THE VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF BOTH THE MARKS
The bench had agreed with the plaintiffs that the similarity between the two could not have been a coincidence and passed an ad-interim order against the same holding validity till 23rd December 2021.
Now, one person, namely Mr. Parwinder Singh, claiming as the director of the defendant, 999 Production House has prayed for settlement of the suit. The ad-interim order granted earlier in favor of the plaintiff will continue until further orders.
Authored by: Jhanvi Sahni; student at NALSAR University of Law
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general guidance to the subject matter. It does not contain legal advice. For any specific advice/corrections, write to [email protected]
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