Navigating Intellectual Property Rights: The Legal Battle Over Captain Marvel’s Trademark and Copyright


The legal landscape of intellectual property (IP) is complex, particularly when it comes to the protection of popular comic book characters. This article explores the intricate legal dispute surrounding the character Captain Marvel, emphasizing the interplay between copyright and trademark law within the comic book industry. Captain Marvel’s story begins with Fawcett Comics in the late 1930s, where a young boy named Billy Batson transforms into the superhero Captain Marvel. However, this character soon became the subject of a significant legal battle when DC Comics claimed that Captain Marvel was an unauthorized copy of their iconic character, Superman. The case, National Comics Publications, Inc. v. Fawcett Publications, Inc., saw DC Comics alleging substantial similarities between the two characters, leading to a protracted legal battle that ended with Fawcett ceasing publication of Captain Marvel.

The narrative then shifts to Marvel Comics, which registered the trademark for Captain Marvel in the 1960s after the name had fallen out of use. This move allowed Marvel Comics to create their own Captain Marvel character and secure exclusive rights to the name. Meanwhile, DC Comics, having acquired the rights to the original Captain Marvel from Fawcett, was forced to publish the character under the title “Shazam!” due to Marvel’s trademark.

The article highlights the importance of IP rights in the comic book industry, using this case as a focal point to discuss broader themes of copyright infringement and trademark disputes. Additionally, it references notable case laws such as Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd. v. RGV Productions Pvt. Ltd. and Arbaaz Khan v. Northstar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., which further illustrate the nuances of protecting character rights. The Captain Marvel saga underscores the necessity for creators to diligently secure and defend their IP rights to prevent unauthorized use and maintain the integrity of their creations.

Keywords: Captain Marvel, copyright, trademark, DC Comics, intellectual property, legal dispute, copyright infringement


The audience’s fascination with comic book and movie characters is a testament to the profound impact these creations have on popular culture and individual lives. Iconic figures like Mickey Mouse, Chotta Bheem, and Shaktiman have become more than just sources of entertainment; they are cultural landmarks that have shaped the imaginations and experiences of millions. These characters’ wide appeal translates into significant opportunities for profit and goodwill for their owners and creators. To forge such memorable and engaging characters, artists channel their creativity to develop unique styles and distinct features, allowing them to express novel ideas and concepts that captivate audiences.

Characters like Mickey Mouse, with his timeless charm, or Shaktiman, with his heroic persona, are crafted with meticulous attention to detail and imagination. This creative process not only brings these characters to life but also ensures that they stand out in a crowded entertainment landscape. The creators behind these beloved figures invest considerable effort and ingenuity in their development, aiming to create personas that resonate deeply with viewers and readers.

Given the significant investment of time, creativity, and resources in developing these characters, it is only natural for character designers to seek ways to protect their work and derive financial benefits from it. Intellectual property rights, particularly copyright, play a crucial role in safeguarding these creations from unauthorized use. Copyright protection ensures that creators retain control over their characters, allowing them to monetize their efforts through various channels such as merchandising, licensing, and adaptations.

Advertisers and licensees, recognizing the lucrative potential of popular characters, are equally motivated to secure the rights to use these personas. They aim to leverage the established popularity and emotional connection these characters have with audiences to drive their own commercial success. However, without proper protection, characters can be vulnerable to unauthorized usage, leading to potential financial loss for both creators and legitimate licensees.

The compelling justification for intellectual property rights in the realm of character creation lies in the balance it provides: protecting the creators’ interests while fostering an environment where creative expression can thrive. By ensuring that characters are shielded from exploitation, copyright law not only rewards creators for their ingenuity but also encourages the continual development of new and innovative personas that enrich our cultural landscape.

In essence, the protection of intellectual property rights for character designs is a vital strategy that underpins the sustainable success of both creators and the industries that rely on these characters. It ensures that the magic of beloved figures like Mickey Mouse, Chotta Bheem, and Shaktiman can continue to captivate and inspire future generations, while also enabling creators to reap the financial rewards of their creative endeavors.

Captain Marvel’s Intriguing Story

This article discusses the dispute within the comic verse (comic book universe) regarding the name and persona of Captain Marvel. The significance of copyrights and trademarks and their maintenance are among the legal ramifications. The practical implications here address issues with names for comic books that become complicated. The problem is in the copyright protection of comic book titles. Nevertheless, character names are protected by trademarks, and characters themselves are covered by copyright.[i] A trademark is not automatically granted to an author (although legal registration is the best approach to secure the copyright).[ii] This resulted in the situation below.

The 2019 film’s lead character, Captain Marvel, gets her start from the same-titled Marvel Comics comic book superhero. Marvel Comics’ Captain Marvel ought to have been a natural fit, right? False. Originating in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Captain Marvel (the original Captain Marvel wasn’t even a woman) had his start in the pages of Fawcett Comics. Billy Batson, a young child, assumed the persona of Captain Marvel up until Detective Comics (DC) sued them. Furthermore, Marvel Comics was nowhere to be seen. In the case of National Comics Publications, Inc. v. Fawcett Publications, Inc., et al.[iii], the plaintiff claimed that Captain Marvel bore an excessive resemblance to Superman, citing approximately 160 instances of plagiarism. Superman made a progressive appearance in the comic book scene. The hero class was introduced by him in “Action Comics #1” in 1938. Another legend was Captain Marvel, who debuted in “Whiz Comics #2” (published by Fawcett Comics) in late 1939. DC made a simple claim. Because Captain Marvel’s motivations and characteristics were too similar to those of Superman, it violated Superman’s copyright. According to Fawcett, these two characteristics were comparable, but not to the extent of incursion. Comparable successes have only been achieved by other anecdotal figures, such as Tarzan or Popeye. National Comics created a cover that was more than 150 pages long and included comparison boards between the two exceptional likenesses from their “Superman” and “Captain Marvel” jokes to demonstrate their point of view.

Ultimately, the designated authority determined that “Superman” and “Captain Marvel” were identical. Still, Fawcett prevailed in the preliminary. The news company that published the “Superman” jokes, McClure Syndicate, was determined by Fawcett’s attorneys to have forgotten to add the copyright images to a couple of its strips. They also claimed that DC did not own the copyright to “Superman,” a claim that the court agreed with. DC made a fast bid, and the outcome was reversed. Judge Hand, who presided over the lawsuit, declared “Captain Marvel” to be a deliberate and bold rip off of “Superman” and mandated that Fawcett cease all of its releases and reimburse DC for any losses it sustained. A settlement of up to two or three hundred thousand dollars was reached in 1953 between Fawcett and DC, and Fawcett agreed to stop selling Captain Marvel.[iv]

Fawcett agreed with DC to never publish Captain Marvel stories until “Kingdom Come,” thus by 1967, the character’s name had vanished from circulation. Marvel Comics thus seized the opportunity to register the trademark on their own.

After five years, DC finally bought the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel in 1972, hoping to reintroduce and purge several of the character’s long-forgotten superhuman abilities.

However, Marvel Comics had already released Captain Marvel-themed comics for a while before that point. Long since out of use by DC, trademarks operate under the maxim “use it or lose it.” Once “Captain Marvel” appeared in Marvel Comics, they were granted exclusive usage of the title. Therefore, they were unable to use the term Captain Marvel in merchandise or call the book that same. Rather, DC released Shazam! Billy Batson says this to change into Captain Marvel. For a long time, a lot of people who weren’t comic book readers thought the Fawcett/DC Captain Marvel was called Shazam.

However, as the trademark rights are clear, this hasn’t resulted in a protracted legal battle between Marvel Comics and DC Comics over the usage of “Captain Marvel.” DC was forced to give up using the name eventually. They were still the owners of “Shazam!” and the characterization. They simply renamed their superhero Shazam and did away with the Captain Marvel moniker with the “New 52” revamp. They are attempting to come up with a character name, which then resulted in one of the major jokes in the most current “Shazam!” film. Naturally, they are unable to use “Shazam!” as it causes them to alternate between being mortal and superhuman. It follows that doing research in advance is preferable to filing a case later.

Case Laws

Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd. v. RGV Productions Pvt. Ltd.[v]: The renowned film director Ram Gopal Varma was compelled to pay a punitive punishment of Rs. 10 lakhs by the Honorable Delhi High Court. It was imposed for “intentionally and deliberately” ripping off the popular 1975 Hindi film “Sholay,” for infringing on Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd’s exclusive copyright, and for incorrectly using the film’s original Gabbar Singh, Jai, Veeru, and Radha protagonists. “The promotional material coupled with the impugned film gives an overall impression that it is a remake of the film Sholay,” Justice Manmohan Singh said in his ruling. Copyright of the original film Sholay is violated by the use of the same plot and characters in the contested picture, as well as the use of background music, lyrics, and language from the original movie.”

Arbaaz Khan v. Northstar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.[vi] : In this case, the character “Chulbul Pandey” from the Hindi movie “Dabangg” was granted copyright protection by the Bombay High Court. The judge stated that this character is unique due to his distinctive style, which sets him apart from others. From the whole movie, it’s easy to recognize this character. The court’s decision emphasized that even though the storyline may have elements similar to other works, the distinctive characterization of Chulbul Pandey—his mannerisms, dialogues, and appearance—constituted a protectable creative expression under copyright law.


The saga of Captain Marvel’s legal battles provides a compelling case study in the importance of intellectual property rights within the comic book industry. The intricate disputes between DC Comics and Fawcett Comics, and later between DC Comics and Marvel Comics, highlight the delicate balance between protecting creative works and fostering an environment of innovation and fair competition.

The resolution of the Captain Marvel disputes underscores several critical lessons for creators and companies alike. First, the clear delineation and registration of intellectual property rights are paramount. The early oversight by Fawcett Comics in securing robust copyright protections and the subsequent proactive trademark registration by Marvel Comics illustrate the necessity of vigilance in IP management. The maxim “use it or lose it” is particularly poignant in the context of trademarks, as evidenced by Marvel’s ability to claim the Captain Marvel name due to its period of non-use by DC.

Additionally, the importance of understanding the nuances between different types of intellectual property rights is essential. While copyrights protect the creative expression of characters and stories, trademarks secure the names and symbols associated with these characters, ensuring brand recognition and commercial exploitation. The Captain Marvel case demonstrates how these two forms of IP protection can interact and, at times, conflict, necessitating careful strategic planning by rights holders.

Beyond the specifics of the Captain Marvel disputes, broader implications for the entertainment industry become evident. As demonstrated in the cases of Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd. v. RGV Productions Pvt. Ltd., Arbaaz Khan v. Northstar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., the global and cross-media nature of contemporary storytelling requires a robust and dynamic approach to IP protection. These cases reinforce that unique characters, regardless of their medium, warrant and merit legal protection to preserve their creators’ rights and maintain the integrity of their stories.

The dynamic and evolving landscape of digital technologies further amplifies the need for comprehensive IP strategies. As new platforms for content distribution emerge, the risk of unauthorized use increases, making it imperative for creators to adapt and update their IP protections continually. The Captain Marvel narrative, along with the supplementary cases discussed, illustrates the ongoing need for vigilance and proactive measures in safeguarding creative works.

Ultimately, the protection of intellectual property rights serves a dual purpose: it rewards creators for their ingenuity and labor, ensuring they can benefit from their creations, and it fosters an environment of continued innovation and creativity. By protecting the unique expressions that characters like Captain Marvel represent, the legal system helps sustain a vibrant and diverse cultural landscape that can continue to captivate and inspire audiences for generations to come.

In conclusion, the Captain Marvel legal battles serve as a quintessential example of the complexities and necessities of intellectual property rights in the creative industries. They highlight the importance of early and proactive IP management, the interplay between different types of IP protections, and the broader implications for the global entertainment landscape. As the industry continues to evolve, the lessons from these cases will remain pertinent, guiding creators and companies in navigating the ever-changing terrain of intellectual property law.

“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”

Written by – Shruti Gattani


[i]  “ C o p y r i g h t i n G e n e r a l ” (Copyright) < h t t p s : / / www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html> accessed November 19, 2020

[ii] “Trademark Basics” (United States Patent and Trademark Office – An Agency of the Department of CommerceSeptember 25, 2020) accessed November 19, 2020

[iii] National Comics Publications, Inc v Fawcett Publications, Inc et al, 191 F2d 594 (2d Cir 1951) (US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit )

[iv] Lee N, “How a $4 Million Lawsuit Created ‘Shazam!’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ as We Know Them Today” (Business InsiderApril 5, 2019) accessed November 19, 2020.

[v] Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd. v. RGV Productions Pvt. Ltd [2015] [CS (OS) 1892/2006]

[vi] Arbaaz Khan v. Northstar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (Suit (L) No. 301 of 2016)


Preserving Traditional Knowledge: Navigating Intellectual Property Rights


In this day of rapid technological progress and globalization, the protection of intellectual property rights and the preservation of traditional knowledge are more crucial than ever. A valuable resource that is susceptible to exploitation or loss is traditional understanding. It usually originates from native cultures and is passed down through the generations. The relationship between traditional knowledge the reasons it’s critical to strike a compromise that upholds the rights of those who possess traditional knowledge while promoting innovation and development.

Traditional knowledge

It encompasses the knowledge, traditions, and innovations that cultures have developed over time and managed to retain collectively. It is not limited to any one subject and can span a broad range of subjects, such as music, art, agriculture, and medicine. Traditional knowledge is closely integrated with a community’s cultural and spiritual identity through oral or experienced transmission. Knowledge, know-how, skills, and practices that are created, maintained, and transmitted from generation to generation within a society and frequently constitute a component of its cultural or spiritual identity are referred to as traditional knowledge (TK). It is critical to realize that traditional knowledge is not solely based on antiquity. It is a naturally occurring, dynamic body of information that has been thoughtfully created and maintained by a community. The customary wisdom becomes ingrained in this community to the point where it contributes to its identity. Traditional wisdom was irrelevant until recently. People have become aware of its importance and unique value in the modern world in recent years. You must acknowledge that conventional knowledge includes a practical component in order to comprehend its significance. It was created as a thought-provoking reaction to life’s requirements. As such, society stands to gain much from it both directly and indirectly. For instance, the Kani tribes in South India are known for their medical expertise, which contributed to the creation of the sports drug Jeevani. It is a medication that reduces stress and weariness. Its foundation is the herbal remedy Arogyapacha. Thus, both current and future generations can profit greatly from old knowledge.


Even with its priceless contributions to humanity, conventional knowledge has certain drawbacks.

Biopiracy: There’s a possibility that conventional wisdom will be used improperly, particularly in fields like traditional medicine and agriculture. Biopiracy is the practice of obtaining patents for traditional medicinal procedures or agricultural techniques, thereby profiting from the communities that invented them.

Erosion: If younger generations move to cities or take up more modern lifestyles, traditional wisdom may vanish. Cultural diversity and the potential benefits of this knowledge are also in danger due to this decline.

Lack of Protection: Unlike modern intellectual property, traditional knowledge is easily appropriated and often needs stronger official protection.

Indigenous cultural expression and traditional knowledge are not easily protected by the intellectual property framework. Conversely, there are instances in which the intellectual property framework functions to permit the commercial exploitation of Indigenous cultural expression and traditional knowledge for enormous profit, with no financial gain for the Indigenous communities that initially made it available.

As an illustration:

Indigenous people may be aware of the therapeutic benefits of a specific plant. With that information at their disposal, scientists study the plant. They develop a medicine by identifying the chemicals that have the desired therapeutic effect. The pharmaceutical business reaps substantial earnings from the production and marketing of the medicine, hence providing financial benefits to its stockholders. But there aren’t any financial advantages for the Native American community that enabled this. It is possible to alter an Indigenous folk song’s melody such that copyright applies to the new work. The recording’s performance as well as royalties are paid to the copyright holder. Nevertheless, the Indigenous community who “owned” the music prior to its modification does not get any royalties or money.

Different ways that traditional knowledge is protected

Two types of protection are being sought for traditional knowledge internationally: Protective measures and Defensive strategies

Protective Defensive : The goal of defensive protection is to prevent outsiders from obtaining intellectual property rights related to traditional knowledge. The finest illustration of this is India’s TKDL. TKDL will assist in making sure that incidents such as the grating of a patent on turmeric don’t occur again.

Advantageous Defense : Communities are empowered by positive protection because it gives them the freedom to disseminate traditional knowledge, choose how to use it, and profit from its commercial use.

Indigenous people: Indigenous people are defined as follows by the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention of 1989: Tribal people who, either entirely or partially, are ruled by their own customs and traditions and who stand out from other national groups due to their unique economic, social, and cultural circumstances. These individuals, who are recognized as indigenous due to their ancestry. “Traditional knowledge” is the knowledge that is created, preserved, and fostered by indigenous communities. Because of its dynamic nature, the TK varies according to social, climatic, and geographic conditions. Among TK’s characteristics are: TK is passed on via the generations. Typically, the information is communicated verbally, but it is occasionally transmitted in writing. The community as a whole holds TK.

Traditional knowledge and Patents

Section 3(p) of the Indian Patent Act, 1970 prohibits the protection of traditional knowledge under Indian patent laws. A combination or replication of known properties of traditionally known components, or an innovation that is effectively traditional knowledge, is not an invention and is not subject to patent protection. For instance, the method of preparing an improved Chyawanprash described in the patent application comprises chopping, roasting, and combining dry fruits with the Chyawanprash; nevertheless, this procedure does not qualify as an invention under Section 3(p) of the Patents Act 1970 (as amended in 2005). Since this invention relies on conventional knowledge, it cannot be patented under the Act. Nevertheless, in the event that the present TK significantly change IP protection can subsequently be pursued if the innovation satisfies the conditions of Indian IP legislation. Indian law offers suitable safeguards to preserve traditional knowledge. Conventional knowledge is public knowledge by definition, so any application for a patent pertaining to TK does not meet the definition of an invention under Section 2(1)(j) of the Patents Act, 1970, which states that an invention is “a new product or method requiring an innovative phase and capable of industrial use.” Furthermore, “a substance obtained through a mere admixture which results only in the aggregation of the properties of the components thereof or process for producing such substances” is not an innovation and is therefore not patentable, according to Section 3€ of the Patents Act.


Patents granted may be revoked in opposition under clauses (d), (f), and (k) of section 25(2) of the Patents Act, 1970. Patent applications based on TK that violate the law may be denied under Section 15 or in pre-grant opposition under clauses (d), (f), and (k) of section 25(1). The Innovation in dispute has its origins in the Patent Act of 1970, which contains provisions requiring TK to be disclosed. The Act’s Section 10(4)(ii)(D) mandates that the source and place of origin of any biological material employed in the invention must be disclosed in the specification. The patent strategy may provide security for certain aspects of TK. Technical problems identified in the previous paintings with creative and inventive solutions globally can be protected by filing for a patent. For example, patents may protect the trademark because it deals with modern subjects. Procedures used in the production of goods separated from biological resources like microbes, plants, and animals can be protected by patents. The codified TM does not meet the novelty requirements to be covered under patents. However, we will use codified knowledge regarding TM as prior art to prevent anyone from obtaining a patent.


Conventional wisdom possesses a remarkable capacity to address the new issues facing humanity. Although using this information is very important, it must be balanced with security, advertising, and benefit sharing. One could refer to traditional knowledge as the newest IP member. However, in addition to the (un)will of nations, judgments about how to handle this child must take into account a number of issues. Put more accurately, traditional knowledge, or the informal sector information network, is primarily oral, poorly documented, and thus not defendable. Although India has made progress and established a repository of its ancient knowledge, the necessity for a legal instrument is become more pressing on a global scale. Interest-worthy is the blending of traditional information architectures with an up-to-date IPR framework. A generis law Is frequently suggested as a potential remedy to better conserve traditional knowledge; but, until legislation is passed, initiatives like Startup India, Digital India, and the National IP Policy will preserve the rapidly disintegrating traditional knowledge framework. It wouldn’t be erroneous to state that in order to secure the survival of both humanity and the species, the current generation will need to assist in protecting the priceless knowledge of a dying generation.


1. https://blog.ipleaders.in/ipr-vis-vis-traditionalknowledge/#:~:text=This%20followed%20a%20well%2Dknown,recorded%20in%20ancient%20Sanskrit%20texts.



4. https://www.wipo.int/tk/en/tk/

5. https://www.un.org/en/academic-impact/we-are-indigenous-addressing-global-challenges-indigenous-knowledge



8. https://www.iiprd.com/preserving-heritage-traditional-knowledge-and-intellectual-property-rights/#:~:text=The%20protection%20of%20intellectual%20property,vulnerable%20to%20exploitation%20or%20loss.

9. https://iptse.com/what-is-traditional-knowledge-and-how-to-protect-it/

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace


















Intellectual Property Rights in the Film Industry


Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) play a crucial role in protecting the creative works of individuals and entities within the film industry. This sector thrives on innovation, storytelling, and artistic expression, making the safeguarding of intellectual property essential for sustaining the industry’s growth. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the cornerstone of protection for the dynamic and creative landscape of the film industry. With its foundation rooted in innovation, storytelling, and artistic expression, the film sector relies on IPR to ensure the preservation and growth of its valuable intellectual assets.

Copyright Protection in Film:

One of the primary forms of IPR in the film industry is copyright protection. Filmmakers obtain copyright for their works to prevent unauthorized reproduction, distribution, and public display. This protection extends to various elements, including the screenplay, music, cinematography, and overall storyline.[1]

Comprehensive Coverage: Copyright extends to various elements of a film, encompassing the screenplay, dialogue, music, characters, cinematography, and other creative components.

Originality Requirement: To qualify for copyright protection, the elements must exhibit a sufficient level of originality, demonstrating the creator’s creative input.

Registration and Enforcement of Copyright:

Registration Process: Filmmakers can register their works with copyright offices to establish a public record of ownership. This process facilitates legal action in case of infringement.

Enforcement Mechanisms: Legal avenues, including cease and desist orders and damages, provide means for copyright owners to enforce their rights. Litigation may be pursued to protect against unauthorized use.

Duration and Limitations:

 Duration of Copyright: The duration of copyright protection for films is typically the life of the creator plus a set number of years (e.g., 70 years). After this period, the work enters the public domain.

 Limitations on Copyright: Certain limitations, such as fair use, allow for the use of copyrighted material under specific circumstances, such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, and research. Understanding these limitations is crucial for navigating the legal landscape.

In essence, copyright protection in film is broad, covering a myriad of creative elements, and its effectiveness is contingent on proper registration and vigilant enforcement. The duration of copyright ensures creators are granted exclusive rights for a reasonable period, while limitations strike a balance between protection and the public’s interest in accessing and using creative works.

Script and Screenplay Protection:

Automatic Protection: Scripts and screenplays are automatically protected by copyright as soon as they are fixed in a tangible medium. This protection includes the expression of ideas, characters, and dialogue.

Creative Ownership: The copyright for scripts grants exclusive rights to the scriptwriter, allowing them to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their work.

Legal Challenges in Script Protection:

Proving Originality: One challenge lies in establishing the originality of a script, especially in cases where similarities exist with other works. This may involve demonstrating a unique creative expression beyond common tropes.

Unauthorized Use: Scriptwriters may face challenges when others use their ideas without permission. Differentiating between inspired works and unauthorized copying can be legally intricate.[2]

 Case Studies: Script Copyright Disputes:

 Sherlock Holmes Adaptations:  Notable disputes involve adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Copyright issues arose over whether certain elements were still protected or in the public domain.

Harlan Ellison vs. James Cameron:  Ellison filed a lawsuit against James Cameron, claiming that the movie “The Terminator” infringed on his works. The case highlighted the importance of establishing a causal connection between the original work and the alleged infringement. In summary, script and screenplay protection involves the automatic grant of copyright, but legal challenges often revolve around proving originality and addressing unauthorized use. Examining case studies provides insights into the complexities and nuances of script copyright disputes within the film industry.[3]

Music and Soundtrack Rights:

 Licensing Process:  Securing music for films involves obtaining licenses from composers, artists, and record labels. This process ensures the legal use of copyrighted music in sync with the visual elements of the film.

Copyright Ownership: Both the composition (musical notes and lyrics) and the sound recording have separate copyrights. Filmmakers often need to acquire licenses for both aspects.

Negotiations with Composers and Labels:

Composer Agreements: Negotiations with composers entail defining the terms of collaboration, compensation, and the scope of rights granted to the filmmaker. Clear agreements are crucial to avoiding disputes later on.

Label Agreements: When using existing sound recordings, negotiations with record labels involve licensing the rights to use the specific recording in the film. Terms may include duration, territory, and financial arrangements.

 Legal Issues in Music Rights:

Infringement Claims: Filmmakers may face legal challenges if their use of music is deemed to infringe on existing copyrights. Thorough clearance and licensing processes are vital to mitigate the risk of infringement claims.

Royalty Payments: Understanding royalty obligations is crucial. Some agreements involve ongoing royalty payments based on the film’s performance, and compliance with these terms is essential to avoid legal repercussions. In conclusion, navigating the realm of music and soundtrack rights in the film industry requires a meticulous licensing process, clear negotiations with composers and labels, and a keen awareness of potential legal pitfalls. Addressing these aspects ensures that the musical elements enhance the cinematic experience without running afoul of copyright laws.[4]

 Digital Rights Management (DRM):

It is a technology used in the film industry to control access to digital content. It involves the implementation of various measures to protect intellectual property, prevent unauthorized distribution, and safeguard the economic interests of filmmakers. DRM aims to prevent piracy and unauthorized sharing of digital content, ensuring that filmmakers and content creators retain control over how their work is accessed and distributed. This technology is crucial for maintaining the economic viability of the film industry. Explore aspects of DRM, including encryption, access controls, and digital watermarks. These mechanisms are designed to restrict access to content, limit copying, and trace unauthorized distribution. Discuss the challenges and criticisms associated with DRM, such as potential limitations on user rights, inconvenience for legitimate consumers, and the cat-and-mouse game between content providers and those attempting to circumvent DRM protection.

Distribution Agreements:

Film distribution agreements play a pivotal role in the entertainment industry, encompassing various legal aspects that shape how films are disseminated to audiences. Territorial rights are a cornerstone, delineating the geographic regions where the distributor has the exclusive right to exhibit the film. This ensures effective market segmentation and maximizes revenue potential in different regions. The surge in online streaming platforms introduces complexities, necessitating clauses that define digital distribution rights. Distribution agreements often specify whether the film will be available on specific streaming services and address revenue-sharing models. Exclusivity clauses are critical, defining the duration and scope of exclusive distribution rights granted to the distributor. This could involve exclusivity in a particular market, platform, or timeframe. These agreements navigate a delicate balance, ensuring filmmakers achieve widespread exposure while distributors secure a profitable and protected investment in the dynamic landscape of film distribution.


In conclusion, the landscape of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the film industry is a multifaceted terrain where legal frameworks serve as the cornerstone for creativity, protection, and economic sustainability. Copyright laws stand as stalwarts, safeguarding scripts, screenplays, and audiovisual works, while the Fair Use Doctrine injects flexibility into the industry. Trademark protection extends to film titles, and licensing agreements become linchpins, enabling filmmakers to harness external elements. Characters find protection under copyright and trademark, emphasizing the industry’s commitment to preserving creative assets. Patents delve into technological innovations, and Digital Rights Management (DRM) emerges as a crucial shield against piracy, securing economic interests. Distribution agreements, on the other hand, intricately weave through territorial rights, online streaming, and exclusivity clauses, ensuring a delicate equilibrium between market segmentation and global reach. These legal constructs not only reflect the industry’s evolution but also underscore its adaptability in the face of digital disruptions. As the film industry continues to evolve, the interplay of intellectual property rights and legal frameworks will remain instrumental, shaping the trajectory of creativity, protecting investments, and fostering a thriving cinematic ecosystem.

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Written By: Gauri Joshi

[1] https://www.legalserviceindia.com/copyright/Cinematograph-Films.htm

[2] https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/protecting-songs-scripts-and-film-or-tv-ideas/   

[3] https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/ent/the-terminator-ripped-off-sci-fi-writers.html

[4] https://www.yourlegalcareercoach.com/music-law-framework-in-india-an-overview/


Using The Colour Combination Of A Well Known Brand With A Mollified Intent Will Amount To Trade Mark: High Court of Madras

Title: ITC Limited Virginia House v Britannia Industries Ltd.

Citation: O.S.A.(CAD).Nos.134 to 138 of 2023

Coram: The Hon’ble Mr.Sanjay V.Gangapurwala, Chief Justice And The Hon’ble Mr.Justice D.Bharatha Chakravarthy

Decided On: 08.11.2023


In the above applications, the respondent herein has prayed for interim injunction restraining the appellant herein from (i) indulging in unfair competition; (ii) infringement of their registered trademarks, (iii) passing off their goods as that of the plaintiff; (iv) infringement of copyright in the original artistic work in the wrapper; and (v) from diluting the goodwill and reputation of the plaintiff’s trade dress and colour scheme. In this judgment the parties are referred to as per their array in the suit.


The plaintiff, Britannia Industries Limited, filed the above suit pleading that it was established in the year 1892, from which date, it has been manufacturing biscuits in India. It’s name itself has gained high reputation and goodwill and it has several products in the market which are very well known among the consuming public. While so, it has also adopted the mark ‘GOOD DAY‘ in the year 1986 and by virtue of continuous extensive use, advertisement and maintenance of high quality, GOOD DAY biscuits is a well known trademark throughout the country. Under the said umbrella mark, they are making and selling Butter Cookies, Cashew Cookies, Nut Cookies, Pista Badam Cookies, Choco Chunkies etc.

As far as the Butter Cookies are concerned, the petitioner uses the trade dress / wrapper in blue colour with the brand name ‘GOOD DAY‘ and the other devices contained therein. The plaintiff’s mark has been registered in different combinations vide Application Nos.4182344, 5186937, 5186938, 5186939, 5186940 in respect of Clause – 30. The plaintiff’s mark, along with colour scheme, getup and style, has been recognised as well known mark by the Intellectual Appellate Board and also by the Delhi High Court in the connected litigations.

The defendant is selling their similar products under their brand name ‘SUNFEAST‘ by adopting the trademark Mom’s Magic. Whileso, with a dishonest intention to cash in on the goodwill and reputation of the plaintiff and to pass off its products as that of the plaintiff, suddenly, in the month of March, 2023, started selling their products also in an identical blue colour trade dress / wrapper. If the products are placed side by side, it would be difficult to differentiate even with a careful observation. It is the case of the defendant that it is one of the India’s leading private sector Companies having formidable presence in diversified fields. Its branded packaged food business is one of the fastest growing food businesses in India and it has several leading brands including that of ‘SUNFEAST ‘.

It has adopted the visual elements and packaging in tune with its consumer preferences over a period of time and such modifications were made lastly in the year 2020. The defendant, with the same visual elements, has been selling the product in red based wrapper from the year 2020. Without altering the lay out or getup and packaging and not modifying the trade dress in any manner whatsoever, the defendant merely and simply changed the packaging colour of Sunfeast Mom’s Magic Butter Cookies to blue in line with the packaging colours of its Butter Cookies.

Judge’s Analysis and Judgment:

The learned Single Judge considered the case of the parties and found that the plaintiff has been using the trade dress with elements and colour combination since 1997 for its Butter Cookies and has built a considerable consumer base. Though the arguments relating to monopoly over a colour are raised by the defendant at the first blush appears to be correct, since the product has been sold in the said colour combination for over two decades, the same has to become associated with that of the plaintiff’s product and therefore, the plaintiff is entitled to protect its trademark. The defendant started selling Butter Cookies in the year 2014, but it has been selling only in red wrapper.

There is no explanation as to why they suddenly adopted the blue colour and the adoption appears to be dishonest with an intention to infringe trade mark of the plaintiff and pass off their goods. The defendant even now continues to pack its product in red wrapper in North India, but, the blue colour has now been introduced only in South India. The argument that the blue colour is common for the trade is not proved by them and the plaintiff has demonstrated that the other popular brands are selling in different shades.

The judge decided that the previous judgement on stopping the Mom’s Magic from packaging blue was right, and in the present appeal the appellant was directed to follow the same, But they were allowed to sell the existing stock of their products packed.

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Written by- Sushant Kumar Sharma

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The Delhi High Court held that the competent court can examine valuation of IPR suits less than 3 lakh rupees transfer to the commercial courts is not required

Title: Pankaj Ravjibhai Patel Trading as Rakesh Pharmaceuticals v. SSS Pharmachem Pvt. Ltd.
Decided on: 02nd November, 2023

+ FAO (COMM) 98/2023

CORAM: HON’BLE Mr. Justice Yashwant Verma and Mr. Justice Dharmesh Sharma

The Delhi High Court held that, if the relief sought in an IPR suit is valued at less than Rs. 3 lakhs, the competent court may investigate the “declared specified value” and the value assigned to the claims, provided that the case’s particular facts be taken into consideration when determining whether the suit was undervalued.

Facts of the Case

The current appeal challenges the order dated February 21, 2023, issued by the District Judge (Commercial), who, for the reasons specified and documented in that order, vacated the ex parte injunction that had been granted on September 25, 2021, in favor of the plaintiff/appellant. The order also requires the plaintiff/appellant to provide further documentation bolstering the Chartered Accountant’s [“CA”] certificate that was submitted in relation to the “specified value” of the suit.

Courts analysis and decision

The court said that it would be completely wrong to continue under the assumption that the disagreement at hand, which forms the basis of IPR lawsuits, would inevitably be worth at least Rs. 3 lakhs. It further said that a competent court may always investigate and determine if a certain claim had been purposefully devalued. In addition, the bench noted that it would be completely improper for it to issue a judicial fiat directing the non-commercial claims to be handled by District Judges (Commercial), even if those suits did not satisfy the CCA’s threshold requirements. It further said that an action cannot be considered by a commercial court unless the twin requirements of a commercial dispute and specified value are met.

The recommendation given by amicus curiae Advocate Swathi Sukumar regarding an additional declaration made by plaintiffs in IPR suits where the valuation is less than Rs. 3 lakhs were also deemed meritorious by the bench. Consequently, the court mandated that the plaintiff in any such action state that it has not previously taken an inconsistent stance about a specified value in any other litigation that is currently continuing or has been filed.

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Written by- Hargunn Kaur Makhija

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