Metro Tyres Ltd. Vs. The Advertising Standards Council of India & Anr 83(2000)
In this case, Delhi High Court ruled regarding the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) about adjudicating upon complaints relating to copyright infringement through advertisement.
- Plaintiff filed this suit against Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and MRF tyres on the ground that ASCI sent letter to Metro tyres along with a complaint of MRF tyres which was against plaintiff for the infringement of copy right as allegedly plaintiff copied the idea and concept of advertisement of MRF’s advertisement of REVZ Radial Tyres.
- Suit was filed by the Metro Tyres Ltd, who is a manufacturer of tyres and tubes for two wheelers and three wheelers, against Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and MRF Limited (MRF), also a manufacturer of tyres and tubes.
- The plaintiff filed this suit for restraining the defendant No.1 Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) from in any manner assessing or proceeding with the complaint filed by the defendant No.2 MRF Limited against the plaintiff and for ancillary reliefs.
- Other ground of the suit was to get restrained the defendant No.2 MRF Limited from issuing groundless threats to the plaintiff of liability for infringement of copyright in MRF Limited’s advertisement for its product REVZ and for abstaining MRF from promoting unfair competition with reference to plaintiff in any manner as well as from defaming the plaintiff in any oral or written communication.
- In this suit recovery of damages in the sum of Rs.1 crore from MRF on account of loss of reputation and goodwill of the plaintiff owing to the illegal activities of the defendants were also claimed.
- During pendency of the suit, plaint was amended and the title changed of the suit and it was for seeking restraint of groundless threats of legal proceedings under the Copyright Act (section 60) and under the Trademarks Act (section 142) and declaration of non-infringement of copyright, defamation, damages etc.
- Regarding Section 62 of the Copyright Act and Section 134 of the Trademark Act which exclusively empowers the district courts to adjudicate upon claims of infringement and passing off, plaintiff put the argument that the ASCI is not competent to adjudicate upon such proceedings. It lacks any powers to punish those who flout its directions; it has to refer such cases to the government for appropriate action.
- Plaintiff further argued that such an action would necessarily have to be instituted in a Court of law as per the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 and Trade Marks Act, 1999. ASCI is not competent enough as the civil court is to decide any legal disputes.
- Plaintiff argued that though MRF is a member of ASCI but the plaintiff is not thus ASCI cannot decide a complaint of a member against other party who is a non-member.
- Plaintiff also prayed for amendment of Rule 7(9), Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 because that is in contravention of Section 62(1)of the Copyright Act.
The issues raised in this suit are as following;
- Whether revocation of CTN Rules or amendment of Rule 7(9) of Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 is permissible by this court of law?
- Whether ASCI, in view of jurisdiction competent to adjudicate disputes of passing off and infringement of copyright under Copyright Act, 1957and Trade Marks Act, 1999?
- Whether the suit of plaintiff is maintainable or not?
Decision and Judgment-
After going through the whole process and hearing counsel for plaintiff, on 17 march 2017 Honorable Justice. Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of Delhi High Court held the following things:
- That as far as the relief of plaintiff, regarding impugned CTN Rules is concerned, the said Rules are in statutory in character, if there is any the challenge thereto that can be challenged before a division bench as per the roster of the Delhi High Court, so this cannot be the subject matter of this court.
- Plaintiff is at liberty to claim the said relief according with law. The said relief claimed in the suit thus is rejected.
- Regarding the plaintiff’s claim based upon Section 62 of the Copyright Act and Section 134 of the Trademark Act. The court held that proceedings which are before the ASCI are not in the nature of a suit. The court referred Section 63 of the Copyright Act and Section 103 of the Trademark Act relating to criminal infringement proceedings.
- Court held that it makes clear that sections 62 of the Copyright Act and Section 134 of the Trademark Act cannot prohibit the ASCI from adjudicating upon claims which operates in a completely different sphere.
- Court held regarding plaintiff’s argument that the ASCI cannot adjudicate upon a proceeding involving a non-member is concerned, the plaintiff carry out an activity governed by the ASCI’s code viz. advertising and advertising agency and television channels through which its advertisements are broadcast are ASCI members, hence it would be sufficient for making it a subject of the ASCI’s jurisdiction.
- Court held that for setting out the appropriate code of behavior for the media Self-regulation was to be a combination of standards that are necessary to support freedom of expression and process of those behaviors will be monitored.
- Court held in case of Viacom 18 Media Private Ltd. vs. Union of India, that this case was also decided against petitioner and the reason was that the matter of self-regulation was taken lightly.
- Court took the contrast view from view of Bombay High Court in Century Ply boards (India) Ltd. Vs. The Advertising Standards Council of India [iv]in which the order was passed in favour of petitioner and against ASCI and stay was granted on the proceedings of ASCI which were adversely affecting the business of non-member.
- On the basis of above reasons court rejected the suit and maintain the jurisdiction of ASCI on such cases where one party is the member of it while other is not.