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Karan Johar v. Indian Pride Advisory Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.

The Bombay High Court, recently, granted an ad-interim injunction in favor of the famous Bollywood producer and director, Karan Johar (“Plaintiff”), restraining the Indian Pride Advisory Pvt. Ltd. and others (“Defendants”) from using his name or attributes in the title, promotion, endorsement and/or publicity of the film, “Shadi Ke Director Karan Aur Johar”/ ”Shadi Ke Director Karan Johar”, as well as from releasing the film.

 

The Plaintiff argued that he is aggrieved by the subject film, and that the Defendants are using his name with a mala fide intention to mislead the public into believing that the subject film is associated with the Plaintiff.  It was further argued that the trailer indicates that the film is in respect of two individuals named “Karan” and “Johar” who collaborate to become Bollywood directors, which further makes it evident that the Defendants are using the personality of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff also submitted that since the Defendants are in same line of business, they ought to have been aware of the brand name of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff also claimed that it is a well-settled position of law that a person who has obtained celebrity status has personality rights, rights of publicity and privacy rights and unless his consent is taken for using his personal attributes such as his name and profession, such use would constitute violation of his rights.

 

The court noted that despite being served notice, the Defendants chose not to appear. The court observed that the Plaintiff has made out a strong prima facie case against the Defendants as they are unlawfully using the Plaintiff’s name, and it is evident from the use of the words “Director” along with “Karan Johar” that the Defendants are using the personality of the Plaintiff and intend to create confusion in the minds of the public at large. Accordingly, the court, while recognizing the personality rights of the Plaintiff, passed an ad-interim injunction restraining release of the subject film. 

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