SpicyIP Tidbit: J. A. Production permanently restrained from using ‘Hamara Bajaj’ by a consent order

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As blogged about earlier, John Abraham’s film production house J.A. Entertainment Pvt Ltd. is embroiled in a copyright and trademark infringement case for its upcoming movie titled ‘Hamara Bajaj’. Ostensibly, the movie derives its title from the story of the film which is centered around the life of one ‘Sanjay Bajaj’. But the same two words have been used consistently by Bajaj Auto Ltd. as a tag line for advertising ‘Bajaj Chetak’, one of the most popular Bajaj scooters (which is no more in production)

The Bombay High Court, on 21st September, by a consent order granted a permanent injunction against J.A. Entertainment Pvt Limited from using ‘Hamara Bajaj’ as a movie title.  The order also restrained the defendants from using the mark Bajaj and Hamara Bajaj anywhere in the contents of the  proposed film or else where in relation to the film. ‘Bajaj’ is a registered trademark, however, ‘Hamara Bajaj’ is not a registered mark.

Though this was a consent order, an academic debate that arises is whether the use of this mark in the title of a movie can be a ‘fair use’ of the trademark? ‘Hamara Bajaj’, as used in the title, was used in a descriptive sense (describing the movie) and not as a ‘trademark’. Also,  its not as if the producers were trying to pass off the movie as emanating from Bajaj Auto nor does it suggest any kind of endorsement. Moreover, the basis of trademark law is to prevent confusion, one wonders how a rational consumer can be confused between a movie centered on the life of ‘Sanjay Bajaj’ and a scooter (which is no more in production).

As pointed out in our previous posts, use of trademarks of well known companies in movies has increased. Companies have resorted to using defamation, trademark infringement and even copyright infringement suits against movies/songs that use their trademarks. Bata sued for defamation for the use of ‘Bata’ in a song in the movie Chakravyuh, Emami Ltd. sued for copyright infringement for the use of ‘Zandu Balm’ in Dabangg. Recently, in Nokia Corporation v Movie Express, Nokia succeeded in obtaining an injunction against the defendants from advertising, and airing songs of their film titled Mr. Nokia/Mr. No. Keyia/ Mr. Nav-kia.


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