The Reiteration of concept of free speech was an unalienable fundamental right: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has passed a judgment on 23-03-2021 in the case of Dr, reddy Laborataories Ltd. Vs Eros International Media Limited and Anr. CS(COMM) 126/2021. Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed the petition.


The facts of the case are briefly stated which gives rise to the present dispute are as


(i) The Plaintiff is a multinational pharmaceutical company engaged in the business of manufacturing, marketing and distribution of pharmaceutical, nutritional and cosmetic products, having its headquarters located at Hyderabad. It is the registered proprietor of the word mark ‘DRL’ under Trade Mark Registration No. 1529767 dated 09th February 2007 in Class 05 (pharmaceutical preparations).

(ii) The Plaintiff maintains that its impeccable reputation is at the core of its existence and a large segment of the population knows its business as ‘DRL’. It claims that the mark/brand ‘DRL’ has acquired distinctiveness and is associated only with the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff claims that ‘DRL’ has been openly, continuously, extensively and exclusively used by them as well as third parties in various promotion materials, press reports and other publications. They have subsidiaries that have DRL as part of their corporate name, such as ‘DRL Impex Ltd. and ‘DRL Investments Ltd.’. Since 1986, its reputation has spread far and wide by virtue of its corporate social governance (CSR) initiatives.

(iii) Defendant No. 1 is a leading global motion movie production and distribution company incorporated in 1981. It is producing and releasing the movie (Haathi Mere Saathi), which has been directed by Mr. Prabhu Solomo (the Defendant No. 2).

(iv) In the last week of February, 2020, the Plaintiff discovered that the Defendant media house is using/portraying the Plaintiff’s word mark/brand ‘DRL’ in the trailer video of the movie, as part of the name ‘DRL Township’, in a derogatory/disparaging manner. The plot of the movie centres on the destruction of an elephant corridor and habitat, by a corporate entity named ‘DRL’, for the construction of its ‘DRL Township’.

(v) The Plaintiff is aggrieved that such unauthorized use of ‘DRL’ as part of the movie plot, as one acting for commercial exploitation and gain with no regard to the environment, and showing its brand in a poor light, is purposeful, mala fide and intended to detriment the distinctive character, reputation and goodwill of the plaintiff’s brand.

(vi) Despite notice dated 03rd March, 2020 by the Plaintiff to the Defendants asking for deletion of the relevant scenes from the movie, no reply was received. However, the movie was not released on its originally set date of 2nd April, 2020.

(vii) Then on 3rd or 4th March, 2021, Defendants launched the trailer video of the movie on YouTube, spotting which, the Plaintiff issued another letter/notice dated 8th March, 2021 to the Defendants. Defendant No. 1 replied through their advocate on 12th March, 2021, denying all allegations therein and refusing to comply with the requisitions thereof. The movie is now slated to be released on 26th March, 2021.

(viii) The Plaintiff fears that such use of its mark in the movie will impact its: (a) sales, (b) power to attract talent for R&D/innovation, (c) new collaboration, (d) share price, (e) business partners, (f) morale of employees, (g) repute among existing stakeholders, as, they would assume and carry the impression that the Plaintiff must have been part of encroachment of a restricted area, for which reason the producers have chosen the name ‘DRL Township’ for its movie.

(ix) Moreover, the use of ‘DRL’ will have the inevitable consequence of: (a) exposing the Plaintiff to hatred, ridicule or humiliation, (b) injuringthe Plaintiff in their profession or trade, and (c) lowering the reputation of the Plaintiff in the estimation of the right thinking members of society and consumers. The impact upon the reputation of the Plaintiff is immeasurable and goes to the very essence of the business that it has built over the years using the brand name ‘DRL’/Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.


In this court has taken three pronged test for the grant of injunction and court said that on the consideration of the facts and circumstances noted above and the legal position on the subject, in the considered opinion of this Court, the Plaintiff has failed to meet the three-pronged test for grant of injunction. The Plaintiff does not have a prima facie case in its favour, the balance of convenience is in favour of Defendants and not in favour of the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff has not been to able make out a case of irreparable loss that it would suffer if the movie is released. The Plaintiff can always, in such circumstances, if it succeeds in establishing its case in trial, cement its claims for compensation and damages. In these circumstances, the present application is completely devoid of merits and accordingly, the same is dismissed.

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