I’m assuming that most of our readers are familiar with the Harry Potter vs Hari Puttar controversy before the Delhi High Court. Justice Reva Khetrapal is expected to issue her decision any day now. For those that came in late, do check out Sumathi’s well researched posts on this big ticket litigation
, that is expected to delineate the scope of “trademark” rights over movie titles.
Prashant also raised a very interesting “free speech” issue in his post here
. Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental right to free speech and expression to every citizen of India (subject to reasonable restrictions of course). Therefore, any use of a film title ought not be seen from the pure commercial perspective of trademark law (or copyright law, as often movie titles (long ones…) might merit copyright protection as well), but ought to be balanced against competing concerns of free speech enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Given that the defendants have claimed that their name has no relation whatsoever with “Harry Potter”, they may not be in a position to now advance a free speech defence. As Prashant rightly stressed, such a defence is normally invoked by defendants (particularly in the US) who actively conjure up an association with a film title/script in their quest to parody such copyrighted works of art.
Therefore, in the context of the Hari Puttar case, the issue of Article 19(1) (a) and the fundamental right to free speech/expression may, at best, be academic. But there is no reason why such a free speech argument cannot be taken up in a future Indian case. Particularly since Indian courts have been renowned for their rather “activist” jurisprudence when it comes to protecting fundamental rights.
For the moment, we wish to harness the power of the internet to solicit public opinion on a very important issue:
“Does the Name “Hari Puttar” Make You Think of “Harry Potter”?”
The defendants(Times Group) in the Harry Potter vs Hari Puttar case have argued that the name “Hari Puttar” has absolutely no connection with Harry Potter. And that the average indian consumer will never think of “Harry Potter” when hearing the name “Hari Puttar”. What do our readers think?
Please see our blog home page
and express your views on this very interesting issue. Click on either “yes” or “no” in the poll button on the top left hand corner of the home page of our blog. So far, we have two “ayes” and one “nay”.
Incidentally, the poll button is just below our SpicyIP logo. We wish to heartily thank our numerous readers who congratulated us on the new logo. Interestingly, one of our readers thought that we could have made it spicier. He writes:
Logo is great. May taste spicier if you invert the chilli.
If it passes for a finger so much the better !”
We may be spicy, but we still have our manners! But perhaps, given that our mission is to increase transparency in IP policy and institutions in India, a task that often entails taking on the establishment, a “giving the bird” logo might seem appropriate after all….