Zee Telefilms Ltd. v. Sundial Communications Private Limited

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FACTS:

The company of the plaintiff, named sundial communication private Limited was involved in the video making program, multimedia, serials for television production etc. They create new, innovative, concepts which are produced through pictures, crafts, sketches, notes. These concepts were also registered under the Films Writers Association and the Indian Motion pictures producers association also registers the titles of the programmes. Approximately in the year 2002, the plaintiff came with a concept which is titled ‘kanhaiyaa’. After some time the title got changed to ‘Krish kanhaiyya’ and which detailed record of the notes made, character sketches, plots of the episodes were sent to the defendants. The plaintiff and the defendant met and discussed the price but after that, no confirmation was provided from the defendant’s side. Since they did not get any proper explanation, they proceed with the same concept with Sony Entertainment Television. But they actually directly disagreed to produce such because they pointed out that on the same concept which the plaintiff was producing; the defendant had already started working. By getting to know regarding this the plaintiff filed a suit against the defendant for misusing the confidential information and also charged them for infringement of copyright.

ISSUES

The major 2 issues of this case where:

  1. Whether there were any substantial similarities between the 2 works and does it creates confusion?
  2. Whether the defendant’s work actually violated the copyright of the plaintiff and was there any misuse of the confidential information or not?

CONTENTIONS:

The plaintiffs contended that the defendant was dealing or working with an almost similar kind of work of his and this should be definitely treated under the infringement of copyright to his work. The defendant only made few changes to the original work and produce it. There was a breach of confidentiality since the plaintiff disclosed his work to the defendant with the confidence of understanding that they won’t be using it in any means. They can only use it through the plaintiff. This work was not availed to anyone else than the defendant by the plaintiff. Hence there was a clear breach of confidentiality of the information provided to the defendant through the plaintiff. And since he used it for his own benefit should be punished and charged with the issues alleged by the plaintiffs. But here the defendant counter contended to the plaintiff’s contention by saying that the TV serial kanhaiyya was by no means similar to the plaintiffs. The characters, theme, concepts, story were all different in nature. They also said that the work of the plaintiff was not creative and not even a new work and hence there was a lack of originality in the ideas provided and so there cannot be any confidentiality principle applicable in this case law.

JUDGMENT:

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The High Court of Bombay clearly pointed out that there is a huge difference between breach of confidence and the law of copyright.

The principle of confidentiality includes both published and unpublished ideas which may be merely disclosed or to be disclosed in a relationship of trust basis. Here, in this case, there was the concept of breach of confidentiality since there was some amount of similarity between the concept of the plaintiff and the concept of the defendant.

An injunction can be granted as there was a breach of confidentiality. Hence, the court rejected all the contention provided by the defendant’s side and also held that the plaintiff’s idea was novel. And while comparing both the concepts court found that there was a substantial part copied and hence, there was an infringement of copyright and also a breach of confidentiality.

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It also lay down that under breach of confidence, it is not just to the extent of original work or recipient rather it also extends to those persons who get the information with the knowledge acquired at that point of time or who have the knowledge that the original information which was provided was in confidence and still disclose it.


 

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