SpicyIP Tidbit: ‘Grand Masti’ restrained

It has come to our attention, courtesy Ms. Abhilasha Niroola, that the makers of the newly released Bollywood film ‘Grand Masti’ have been restrained by the Delhi High Court from using the name and banner of ‘ICICI Bank’ in its movie, vide an ex parte order. The order was sought by ICICI banks on the ground that ‘ICICI Bank’ was a registered trademark, the trailer of the movie showed the name and banner of the bank in the context of a bank robbery in a manner which portrayed the bank and its staff in a poor light and this was done without taking the prior permission of the bank. The Court, along with the ex parte order also issued notice to the director and producer of the movie.

This is not the first time Bollywood has been accused of violating intellectual property rights. Two prominent controversies in the past have been the Zandu balm controversy and the Hamara Bajaj controversy.  The arguments in the Zandu balm case was solely on the grounds of copyright infringement while in Hamara Bajaj, both copyright and trademark infringement was claimed. The case for trademark infringement in the Hamara Bajaj case was on two levels: firstly, that the film makers were capitalizing on the investments made by trademark owners such as Bajaj and secondly, that the brand value of Bajaj would possibly be adversely affected if the film does not do well at the box office.

The second argument is applicable in the instant case as well. The fact that video clips from the movie show ICICI Bank and its staff in a poor light could possibly be detrimental to the brand value of ICICI. However,  the question of whether trademark protection can/ should be claimed to the extent of absolute protection from even using the mark in a descriptive manner, beyond its conventional objective of preventing consumer confusion remains.


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