The Bombay High Court recently said it was unfair to other litigants when cases concerning intellectual property rights (IPR) are moved before courts at the “eleventh hour” against the release of a movie and seek to impose on the court’s time.
A single judge bench of Justice Gautam S Patel made these observations on October 1 while refusing relief to Plex Inc, which sought restraining orders against Zee Entertainment from using the word “plex” in its ZEEPLEX online movie service channel.
The Plex, through senior counsel Virag Tulzapurkar, had sought an injunction against Zee Entertainment seeking damages for misleading the consumers to believe that Zee had tied up with Plex.
Senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Zee, said his client used ‘Zee’ as a prefix, which it would invariably use for all their other offerings and marks. He said ‘plex’ was used to point to the niche or specialised service, which his client was offering to subscribers on pay-per-view basis.
The court noted that there was a question of time lost between September 1 and October 1 and in any action that seeks such urgent reliefs — given that Zee was planning to launch its product on October 2 — this factor could not be ignored.
Tulzapurkar, however, said there was no delay and a suit had been filed within the shortest possible time.
Justice Patel said, “I do believe and maintain that parties in IPR matters cannot expect courts to push aside all other cases. This happens repeatedly, whether it is movie releases or otherwise. It must stop. It is unfair to courts and it is unfair to other litigants waiting their turn.”
The court said that when the plaintiff had enough notice and yet chooses to move court at the “eleventh hour” and makes no adjustments, the plaintiff must be prepared to face the consequences.
The judge said he was not refusing ad-interim relief to Plex on the ground of “delay”, but because the grant of injunction to Plex would cause immediate financial loss to Zee. The court said the use of the word ‘plex’ was subject to further orders since the current order was for the limited purpose of deciding on a plea seeking to restrain Zee Entertainment’s use of the word for its online movie channel service.
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