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May 18, 2024
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Bhidu Nahi Bolneka! Why Jackie Shroff Moved Delhi HC Over Unauthorised Use of His Name, Voice


Following in the footsteps of Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Kapoor, Hindi film actor Jackie Shroff on Tuesday approached the Delhi High Court (HC) to restrain firms, social media channels, artificial intelligence (AI) apps as well as GIF-making platforms from using his name, voice, image or any other attribute without his consent.

Bar and Bench reported that Justice Sanjeev Narula heard the matter in some detail and issued summons to the defendants. The Court said it will hear the matter on the issue of interim injunction on May 15.

ALSO READ | Jackie Shroff Moves Delhi HC To Protect Personality Rights Over Misuse of His Name, Voice, Pics

SHROFF HOLDS THE TRADEMARK

As per the Intellectual Property India, Shroff holds the trademark Bhidu across multiple classes (application IDs (3227967, 3227968, 3227969), along with Apna Bhidu and Bhidu Ka Khopcha. He had applied for the trademark in April 2016.

‘DAMAGING REPUTATION, CAUSES CONFUSION’

According to Bar and Bench, Shroff’s lawyer Pravin Anand told the court that in some instances, offensive memes have been made using his images and that his voice has been misused for similar purposes as well. The court was informed that in certain cases, pornographic material is being created using Shroff’s persona.

Anand said that Shroff was not looking to stop parody or satire, but wanted an injunction against merchandising, defamatory and distorted uses of his personality.

ALSO READ | Delhi HC Restrains Misuse of Personality Attributes of Actor Anil Kapoor

It was Shroff’s case that several social media companies, stores, social media handles as well as AI tools are using his attributes without authorisation and not only making money from such unauthorised use, but also creating confusion and damaging his reputation. He has made Google-owned Tenor and another GIF making company Giphy as well as AI platforms parties to his suit.

WHAT HAS SHROFF SOUGHT?

  1. Protection of the names — Jackie Shroff, Jackie, Jaggu Dada as well as Bhidu.
  2. Attributes cannot be used without his authorisation on any platform.
  3. A direction to the Department of Technology and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) to pull down all the links and websites which unlawfully infringe on his personality rights.
  4. An injunction against AI tools and platforms using his attributes to create, train and monetise bespoke AI personalities.

WHAT ARE PERSONALITY OR IDENTITY RIGHTS?

Personality rights or the rights over one’s name, image, and unique characteristics, are crucial for celebrities. For example, Usain Bolt’s iconic bolting or lightning pose has been registered as a trademark, ensuring that only he or authorized parties can use it for commercial gain.

ALSO READ | Amitabh Bachchan’s Image, Name, Voice Cannot Be Used Without Permission, Says Delhi HC

In India, the personality rights are explicitly mentioned in statutes, but are derived from related legal principles — the right to privacy and the right to property, mainly intellectual.

An injunction is a court order that prevents the unauthorised use of rights.

RAJINIKANTH, AMITABH BACHCHAN AND ANIL KAPOOR HAVE DONE IT

Rajinikanth: The Madras High Court’s judgment in a case involving actor Rajnikanth in 2015 held that personality rights apply to celebrities. Rajnikanth had filed a lawsuit against the producers of a movie, Main Hoon Rajnikanth, claiming that the film’s use of his name, image, and style of delivering dialogue infringed on his personality rights. The court’s observation became a precedent in subsequent cases.

In January 2023, Rajinikanth issued a notice warning criminal proceedings against anyone who exploited his personality for commercial gain without his permission.

Amitabh Bachchan: In November 2022, the Delhi High Court had passed an interim order restraining persons at large from violating actor Amitabh Bachchan’s “publicity rights”. Renowned lawyer Harish Salve appeared for Bachchan, who filed a suit in the High Court, seeking protection of his name, image, voice, and personality attributes. The lawsuit stated that Amitabh Bachchan’s name was being used by mobile application developers to conduct lotteries illegally, while others were selling T-shirts with his image.

ALSO READ | Anil Kapoor Credits Amitabh Bachchan For Safeguarding Identity Rights: ‘You Have To Protect The…’

“The plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable loss and harm. Some of the activities may even bring his disrepute… It cannot seriously be disputed that the plaintiff (Bachchan) is a well-known personality and is also represented in various advertisements. The plaintiff is aggrieved by the defendants using his celebrity status to promote their own goods and services without his permission or authorisation,” Justice Navin Chawla had stated.

Anil Kapoor: In September 2023, the Delhi High Court had restrained the misuse of the name, image, voice and other attributes of persona, including the “jhakaas” catchphrase, of actor Anil Kapoor for commercial gain. Advocate Pravin Anand, appearing for Kapoor, had said several websites and platforms have been misusing the personality rights of the plaintiff through various activities. Kapoor’s counsel pointed to the unauthorised sale of merchandise, collection of fees by using his photograph as a motivational speaker, morphing his image in a derogatory manner, and selling pictures with forged autographs and the “jhakaas” catchphrase, among others.

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