Recently an interesting petition was filed by Senior Advocate Harish Salve on behalf of Amitabh Bachchan against “the world at large” in Delhi High Court.
In his suit, Bachchan has sought a John Doe order, or a ruling against unknown infringers, that are violating his publicity rights. He also sought an interim injunction stopping four of the defendants from transferring, alienating or creating any third-party rights with respect to domain names amitabhbachchan.com and amitabhbachchan.in.
The suit also sought to restrain mobile application developers who were conducting lotteries by unlawfully associating it with Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), book publishers, T-shirt vendors and other businesses. Such fraudulent and deceptive activities were scams & frauds where the actor’s photo and voice are being misused to deceive the public.
The court presided over by Justice Navin Chawla ruled in his favour to protect his image, voice and name by restraining persons at large from infringing his personality and publicity rights. Personality rights are the rights of an individual to control the commercial use of their identity, including name and image. An interim injunction was passed stating that Amitabh Bachchan’s photo, voice and name cannot be used without prior permission. The court stated that Bachchan is likely to suffer irreparable loss and harm if the order is not passed and that some of the activities might bring him disrepute.
Furthermore, the court has issued directives to the ministry of telecom and communications. They have also been directed to ensure the removal of all the violating content that has been flagged by the petition. Telecom service providers will disclose the details of the phone numbers that are being used for the illegal use of Bachchan’s name and voice. They have also been asked to direct internet service providers to take down online links that are infringing Amitabh Bachchan’s personality rights.
Such actions and rulings by the courts not only help in the protection of the public from the misuse and exploitation of trust by parties using celebrity intellectual property for their own personal gains, but it also helps instil faith in the legal system.