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Pocket FM Private Limited v. Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited & Anr.


The Delhi High Court recently rejected a plea filed by Pocket FM Private Limited (“Plaintiff”) seeking temporary injunction against Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited (“Defendant”) from publishing/making available, the alleged video adaptation of its audio series “Yakshini” on their website or other third-party media websites.

The Plaintiff provides an online platform for audio series and audiobooks by the name Pocket FM. As per the Plaintiff, its primary focus long format audio content. The Plaintiff claimed that it adapted and published the work “Yakshini” as an audio series in 2021. As per the Plaintiff, the Defendant operates the streaming platform, Disney+ Hotstar, and in the first week of June 2024, the Plaintiff came across a trailer for a television series “Yakshini”, set to release on June 14, 2024. The Plaintiff submitted that, it is evident, from the trailer, as well the comment section to this video, that the Defendant has unauthorizedly adapted the Plaintiff’s series since there are stark similarities in the storyline and characters. The Plaintiff further stated that while it had, in 2022, approached the Defendant regarding adaption of various works, and shared proprietary information, the discussions were not fruitful. The Plaintiff also highlighted that the parties had not signed a non-disclosure agreement despite the Plaintiff insisting on it, and instead the Plaintiff signed a release form absolving the Defendant of any liability with respect to any content shared during negotiations.

The Defendant stated that it had advertised release of the series in May, and the Plaintiff had chosen to sit till the eleventh hour to file the suit. The Defendant further stated that Yakshini is an old mythological character about whom there is abundant literature available, and the idea has not been picked up from the Plaintiff’s audio series, let alone the expression. It was submitted that the Plaintiff has not approached the court with clean hands since it has already signed a release form stating that it will not claim proprietary rights in the works that have been submitted to the Defendant.

The court observed that, despite the Defendant advertising the television series over a month ago, the Plaintiff approached the court the day before its release, and it would not be equitable for an injunction to be granted. The court held that while the idea maybe similar, it finds roots in mythological stories, and the similarity of name cannot be the sole criteria for making out a case of infringement. Accordingly, the court, while observing that if the Plaintiff makes out a case at a later stage, it can be compensated monetarily, rejected the application for an ad-interim injunction.

 

Pocket FM Private Limited v. Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited & Anr., CS (COMM) 524/2024, Judgement dt. June 13, 2024.

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