ARTICLE
10 April 2024

Movie Titles And Trademarks: Killer Jeans V. Netflix's Killer Soup

SR
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates

Contributor

S.S. Rana & Co. is a Full-Service Law Firm with an emphasis on IPR, having its corporate office in New Delhi and branch offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh, and Kolkata. The Firm is dedicated to its vision of proactively assisting its Fortune 500 clients worldwide as well as grassroot innovators, with highest quality legal services.
In the recent years there has been a paradigm shift in entertainment and most specifically in the Indian cinema industry.
India Intellectual Property
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

In the recent years there has been a paradigm shift in entertainment and most specifically in the Indian cinema industry. The traditional cinematic experience has witnessed a transformation as more people gravitate towards the convenience and diversity offered by OTT Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. As the demand for unique and attention-grabbing content grows, OTT platforms often find themselves tangled in legal disputes over Series Title, Content etc.

Recently in a legal clash that blends fashion with streaming drama, Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL), the master mind behind the iconic "Killer Jeans," have taken the makers of the recently released web series "Killer Soup" to court for alleged trademark infringement. Filed in the Bombay High Court, the lawsuit targets MacGuffin Pictures LLP and Netflix Entertainment Services India LLP as defendants. The high-stakes battle revolves around KKCL's objection to the use of their registered trademark "Killer" in the title of the Netflix series.

Indian Trademark Law and Movie Titles

As per the Indian Trademark Act, 1999, a film's title can be registered under class 411 In India. Major production houses apply for trademark application for film/movies/series title in class 41 covering services like "entertainment." Additionally, these applications are also filed in Class 9, as films can be viewed on storage devices like DVDs, providing "apparatus for recording, transmitting, or reproducing sound or images." It is crucial to note that the title of a film is protected under Trademark Law in two conditions – as a Film Title Series or a Single Film Title.2

Before a film is released in theaters, it undergoes pre-release advertisements and promotional activities necessary for trademark protection under the provisional clause in section 9(1) of the Trademark Act, 1999. Apart from applying for registration under the Indian Trademarks Act, filmmakers also seek protection of their film titles from industry organizations. Associations like the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), the Association of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTPP), the Indian Film and Television Producers Guild, the Film Writers' Association, and the Western India Film Producers Association (WIFPA) play a significant role in safeguarding the commercial interests of the films. Producers and film writers can apply for membership in these associations, allowing them to register titles and scripts. The registration with these associations, however, does not impact court proceedings; it mainly helps to establish whether someone is a previous title adopter.3

Fight for the term "KILLER"

Netflix's "Killer Soup", hit the streaming platform on January 11, 2024. While critics and audience had their eyes glued on the thriller series, KKCL had promptly responded to the series by filing a suit strongly objecting to the use of their trademark "Killer" in the show's title. In a statement, KKCL emphasized the brand's extensive history, attributing its popularity to product quality, marketing strategies, and extensive advertising.

Content of the Notice

As per the notice issued, KKCL, asserted its exclusive right to the "Killer" trademark in various classes and highlighted all the registrations held by them from year 2001 to 2011 specifically under classes 9, 35, 38, and 41. The company further contended that these registrations entitled them to have the exclusive right over "Killer" trademark. Furthermore, KKCL's legal team demanded Netflix Entertainment and MacGuffin Pictures to cease and desist from using the word 'Killer' in the web series title. Additionally, KKCL demanded a significant token amount of ₹10 crore as damages for what they deemed the unlawful use of their trademark.

KKCL also insisted that Netflix Entertainment and MacGuffin Pictures issue an unconditional apology and provide a written undertaking pledging not to violate KKCL's intellectual property rights in the future.4 It is indeed noteworthy to mention here that KKCL has been aggressively protecting its trademarks in the past and has consistently taken measures to protect its marks from potential infringers by initiating opposition actions.

In the case of Nokia Corporation v. Movie express5, Nokia Inc., filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers of "Mr. Nookayya" for trademark infringement, seeking an interim injunction. Nokia argued that the film's title, "Mr. Nokia," was deceptively and phonetically similar to their registered trademark, "Nokia." Following the Hon'ble Delhi High Court's directions, the film producers changed the title to "Mr. Nookayya Reloaded," prompting the release of an edited version worldwide just nine days after the original movie's release.

Conclusion

This trademark tussle between a fashion giant and a streaming OTT platform adds a unique layer to the ongoing intersection of entertainment and IP rights. The outcome of this case could set precedents for future disputes in the evolving landscape of trademarks in the digital age. As the legal battle unfolds in the Bombay High Court, the clash between Killer Jeans and Netflix's Killer Soup serves as a compelling case study on the importance of protecting intellectual property in the competitive realms of fashion and entertainment. The verdict could reshape how trademarks are navigated and protected in the dynamic and ever-expanding world of streaming content.

Swayamsiddha Das, Associate Advocate at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this Article.

Also read: Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti? The Value Of A Name – Movie Titles As Trademarks Film Titles And Their Protection

Footnotes

1. Michigan Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 8, 2005 Survey of Books Relating to the Law (Aug., 2005), pp. 2020-2072, accessed on 24.08.2020

2. https://judicateme.com/indian-trademark-law-on-protection-of-movie-title-song-title/

3. https://judicateme.com/indian-trademark-law-on-protection-of-movie-title-song-title/

4. https://www.livemint.com/industry/media/killer-jeans-maker-files-trademark-infringement-lawsuit-against-netflix-for-web-series-killer-soup-11705761076785.html

5. CS(OS) 286/2012

For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: info@ssrana.in or call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at www.ssrana.in

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.

ARTICLE
10 April 2024

Movie Titles And Trademarks: Killer Jeans V. Netflix's Killer Soup

India Intellectual Property

Contributor

S.S. Rana & Co. is a Full-Service Law Firm with an emphasis on IPR, having its corporate office in New Delhi and branch offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh, and Kolkata. The Firm is dedicated to its vision of proactively assisting its Fortune 500 clients worldwide as well as grassroot innovators, with highest quality legal services.
See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More