India: Copyright Board Orders Expunction of Marks for Non-Issuance of Notice

Last Updated: 24 June 2010

Rule 16 (3) of the Copyright Rule 1958 states that:

"The person applying for registration shall give notice of his application to every person who claims or has any interest in the subject matter of the copyright or dispute the right of the applicant to it."

This provision came under the spotlight in the case of Preeti Supari v. Anil Tulsani and Anr 2009 (39) PTC 710 (CB). This matter lay before the Copyright Board on orders from the Delhi High Court to expedite the proceedings pending before them.

Preeti Supari had moved the Delhi High Court against the Anil Tulsani seeking relief of permanent injunction restraining them from using the impugned trademarks or labels, namely, Mirch Masala, Balle Balle, Mix Fruit Balls, Nagpuri Santra, Chatak Matak, Aam Modak, Love Line mango and Garam Masala. Preeti Supari had moved a prayer for grant of interim injunction restraining the Tulsani from using the impugned trademarks/labels pending the disposal of the suit. The Hon'ble High Court restrained the Tulsani from using the impugned trademarks/labels till the next date of hearing. However, dismissing the Writ Petition as withdrawn, the Delhi High Court ordered the Board to expeditiously adjudicate on the same.

Preeti Supari, before the Board claimed that eight separate letters to the Registrar of Copyrights had been sent, requesting them to not entertain any requests by Tulsani for registration of copyrights in the impugned trademarks or labels without prior notification to Preeti Supari. She produced copies of all the eight letters duly acknowledged in person by the office of the Registrar of Copyrights. Preeti Supari also claimed to have sent copies of all the eight letters to the Assistant Registrar of Trademarks for his information. After receiving the letters of Preeti Supari, the Assistant Registrar of Trademarks issued show cause notices to Anil Tulsani asking as to justify as to why the No Objection Certificates granted to him under Section 45, be not liable for cancellation.

Preeti Supari also submitted copies of these notices, averring that two individuals couldn't be the proprietors of the same concern at the same time. She took the plea of ground of lack of originality and violations of statutory rights relating to the No Objection Certificate.

Anil Tulsani objected to filing of a joint application for rectification of six artistic works. He said that there should have been separate applications for all registrations. He had further filed an FIR against Preeti Supari, the facts regarding which was concealed by her while obtaining the ex parte injunction.

The Board also observed that Anil Tulsani had given a false date of registration in all the six impugned applications. Instead of 2004, 2001 has been given as the date of registration. But Anil Tulsani claimed that the impugned artistic works had been conceived and adopted by the respondents much prior the petitioner and he has also submitted affidavits of the artists who had created these labels.

Anil Tulsani objected to the combined application for the rectification of the six artistic works filed by Preeti Supari. He argued that for each work there should have been a separate and individual application.

The Board held that there was nothing wrong if the impugned works are put through a common petition since it helps and promotes larger question of reducing litigation and costs. The Board further held that in matters of disputes relating to trademarks or labels, issues relating to rights of private persons are involved, but more importantly, the public at large has a stake in these issues. The Board in view of Rule 16(3) of the Copyright Rules, 1958 stated that a duty was cast upon Anil Tulsani to put Preeti Supari to notice about his proposed applications. Thus, Anil Tulsani was held to have violated the statutory provisions mandated by the Copyright Act and accordingly ordered that the Registrar expunge entries relating to all six registrations.

© Lex Orbis 2009

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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