Copyright Infringement: Bharat Law House vs. Wadhwa

First Publication Date: 13th June 2010
Supreme Court vacated Interim Application passed in favor of plaintiff and also allowed
the IA in favor of defendants. This case is a hearing of interim application before
Supreme Court while main suit was pending for trial.
Case Facts
Well-known authors Ratanlal and Dhirajlal wrote books on IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act,
Torts, Law of Crimes and Bombay Criminal Cases. All these six books were assigned to
the defendants by Mrs. Mary. Later, assignor and the defendants had a legal dispute
which was finally settled by a compromise decree in court. As per decree, defendants
were entitled to assignment of 4 books out of 6; they are IPC, Law of Torts, Evidence Act
and CrPC. Later, Mrs. Mary assigned Law of Crimes to the plaintiff. Both these
assignments transferred all copyrights, without any reservations, in those books.
Plaintiff filed an interim Application praying to impose a restriction on the defendants,
their representatives, servants and dealers from publishing, printing, selling, enlarging
and abridging of the textbook on IPC, under the pretext that the defendants were
misrepresenting book on Law of Crimes, which was assigned to him, by publishing
enlarged version of IPC as a commentary for advocates instead of a student edition. The
trial Court passed an injunction in favor of the plaintiff.
Issues and Analysis
Issue 1: Does enlargement of a book on the subject of law amount to infringement of
Enlargement of a book on a subject of law by the assignees of copyright will not amount
to infringement by misrepresentation.
As per the agreement of assignment between the defendants and Mrs. Mary the assigner
had transferred all of the copyrights in said book. Defendant devolves from the agreement
all rights of printing, reprinting, publishing, selling and also abridging, reviewing and
enlarging the book. A textbook on the subject of law will not have space in the market
unless and until it is reviewed by including amended law and latest case laws. His
Lordship held that the defendant could review and also enlarge or abridge the book as per
the assignment of rights from Mrs. Mary and that it is not an infringement of copyright of
the plaintiff.
Issue 2: Is the injunction granted by the trial court maintainable?
Holding and Analysis
The injunction granted by the trial court is not maintainable because under settled law, to
grant injunction, there must be three important requisites; right in prima facie, the balance of
convenience and irreparable loss. From the aforementioned discussion under Issue 1, it is
clear that the plaintiff has no prima facie right in restraining the defendants from
publishing the book and as there is no right, the vacation of injunction to plaintiff will not
cause any imbalance to the convenience of the parties. On the other hand, continuity of
the injunction in the future will cause irreparable loss to the defendants who invested a lot in
publishing the said books.
Supreme Court vacated the injunction passed by the trial court in favor of the plaintiff
and allowed the Interim Application filed by the defendants. It allowed them to publish
and review the book on IPC in its enlarged version. The court also approved the price
enhancement by the defendant by considering the charges of reproduction, such as cost
of papers, printing expenditure
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