Although the tag line appeared in the advertisements for the Bajaj Chetak in the mid-1980’s and the Bajaj Chetak has not been produced since 2009,according to Bajaj, the public still continue to associate the tag line with the company, Bajaj Auto Ltd. According to Bajaj, the fact that the tag line has been consistently used by Bajaj in its corporate campaigns contribute to the identification factor. The Bombay High Court granted interim relief to Bajaj on 2 April, ordering J.A. Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. to not advertise or release its movie until the final order is passed by the Court. The final court order is due on 17 April, according to this newspaper report.
The issue of the film industry violating the intellectual property rights of companies is not new. In 2010, the producers of the blockbuster movie, Dabangg, ran into trouble with Emami Ltd. owing to its use of the name of one of Emami’s products, Zandu balm in an item song in the movie. In that case, only a case of copyright infringement was brought out by the Claimants. The fact that a trademark infringement was not claimed was remarked upon in our earlier post on this issue. Eventually, the case was settled out of court with Ms. Malaika Arora Khan doing several advertisements as a brand ambassador for the brand.
Similarly, Bata had gone to Court with a defamation claim for the use of the word Bata in a negative light in Prakash Jha’s movie ‘Chakravyuh’. Readers can refer to Kruttika’s excellent post on the same for complete details. Although, this was a defamation claim, the fact situation is similar to the Hamara Bajaj and Zandu balm cases. Bata, eventually lost the defamation suit at the Delhi High Court.
The issue behind these trademark infringement cases is quite simple. The question is whether producers of film can be allowed to capitalize on the investments made by owners of trademarks, especially when they are huge brands like Bajaj. There is also a possibility that Bajaj’s brand value would be adversely affected if the film does not do well at the box office. But on the other hand, as J.A. Entertainment has clarified, the title of the film comes from the name of the lead character in it, Sanjay Bajaj. Whether this will entitle them to the defence of nominative use of trademark, we will have to wait and see.