Indian IP Orders and Judgments-2021
1. Dassault Systemes Solidworks Corporation & Anr vs. Spartan Engineering Industries Private Limited & Anr., High Court of Delhi, CS (Comm) 34/2021
In this matter, the Delhi High Court deals with copyright infringement of software. Plaintiff No. 1 is a French company which has developed a software called ‘Solidworks’. This software facilitates modelling and development of products in a three-dimensional environment. Plaintiff No. 2 is a sister concern established by Plaintiff No. 1 to manage all its affairs with respect to ‘Solidworks’ in India.
The Plaintiffs state that the software was developed by their employees as work for hire, and hence the copyright therein belongs to the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs claim that the software programme and its instruction manuals are literary work under the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act) and is entitled to copyright protection. The software was first published in the United States of America (US) and is entitled to protection in India under Section 40 of the Copyright Act as India and the US are members of the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention and the World Trade Organisation Agreement.
The Plaintiffs allege that in May, 2018 it received information regarding the use of pirated and unauthorised versions of the ‘Solidworks’ software programme by the Defendants for business purposes without paying the required license fee. The Plaintiffs further assert that such unauthorized use of the software has increased since August, 2020 and their efforts to reach an amicable resolution were futile, as the Defendants were denying infringement.
Following this, the Plaintiffs approached the court seeking an injunction, as use of any pirated or unauthorised copy of the Plaintiffs’ software programme would amount to copyright infringement under Section 51 of the Act. The Plaintiffs also relied on Section 63B of the Act, which makes it a criminal offence to knowingly use a pirated computer program. Further, the Plaintiffs asserted that, there has also been a contractual infringement and intellectual property infringement, due to the violation of the End User License Agreement by the Defendants.
While issuing the order, the court remarked that, “Software infringement is a serious issue, and deserves to be nipped in the bud”. The Court opined in favour of the Plaintiffs and granted the Plaintiffs an ad interim ex-parte injunction restraining the Defendants from using, reproducing and distributing any pirated/unlicensed/unauthorized software programs of the Plaintiffs and also from formatting their computer systems and/or erasing any data, pertaining to assisting others to infringe the copyrights of the Plaintiffs.
A copy of the order may accessed be here.
2. Mr. John Hart Jr. & Anr. vs. Mr. Mukul Deora & Ors, High Court of Delhi, CS (Comm) 38/2021
Plaintiff No. 1 claims to be vested with the exclusive copyright to make a movie adaptation of the book “The White Tiger” authored by Mr. Aravind Adiga by virtue of a Literary Option/Purchase Agreement dated 4th March, 2009. The Plaintiffs have approached the Court at the eleventh hour to seek an injunction restricting the release of the film “The White Tiger” (‘Film’) produced by Defendant No. 1 to be released on the streaming platform, Netflix. The Plaintiffs assert that when it came to their knowledge that Netflix was in the process of making and releasing the film on its platform, a cease and desist notice dated 4th October, 2019, was sent by Plaintiff No. 2 to Defendant No. 1. Further, the Plaintiffs stated that allowing the release of the film would result in irreparable injury as the Plaintiffs planned to release the film in Hollywood. The Plaintiffs also attempted to justify the delay in approaching the Court by stating that the delay was unavoidable as the Plaintiffs were unaware of the fact that Defendants were shooting the film during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Defendants, relying on various judgments, argue that there is no justification for the Plaintiffs to move the Court for an injunction less than 24 hours prior to its scheduled release. It was also contended that the Plaintiffs have hidden important documents and facts from the court. In the Defendants’ response dated 11th October, 2019, the Defendants disputed the Plaintiffs’ rights and argued that the said rights were waived by Plaintiff No. 2, pursuant to a settlement arrived at in 2014.
The court opined that no case exists for grant of any interlocutory injunction and the case constitutes a misuse of the judicial process. The court held that, “The Plaintiffs were aware of the possibility of the film being released on the Netflix platform at least from 4th October, 2019. There is not a scintilla of material produced on record to justify the Plaintiffs approaching this court less than 24 hours prior to the release of the subject film, seeking stay thereof.” The court relies on several precedents to elucidate that a Plaintiff who approaches the court at the eleventh hour, seeking an interlocutory injunction against the release of a cinematographic film, is disentitled to any such relief. A delay in approaching the court for an equitable relief is always fatal.
The Delhi High Court held that the balance of convenience favours the Defendants and by granting injunction at the eleventh hour, greater irreparable loss and injury would be caused. The Plaintiffs stand disentitled from seeking any interlocutory injunction against the release of the film on the ground of unconscionable delay in approaching the court. The court nevertheless directed the defendants to keep detailed accounts of the earnings made from the film so if the Plaintiffs were to succeed in the future, it would facilitate the award of damages or monetary compensation.
A copy of the order may accessed be here.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar (Associate, BananaIP Counsels) and Ashna Shah (Legal Intern)
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