Daler Mehndi, the most famous pop star hailing from Punjab. He is immensely popular amongst Punjabi-pop music lovers. The appellant company was incorporated in 1996 to manage the artist’s escalating career. The plaintiff company had been assigned all the rights, titles and interests in the personality of the artist along with the Trademark, Daler Mehndi.
The crux of the case is that the defendants had prolific businesses in selling miniature toys of Daler Mehndi and cashed on to his popularity. Majorly aggrieved, the plaintiff company filed for permanent injunction from infringing the artist’s right of publicity and false endorsement leading to passing off.
Does Character Merchandising amount to passing off/ trademark infringement?
Court held that passing off would occur when the mark is not only being used deceptively similar to the mark of another but it is being used to create confusion in the minds of the consumer that results in the damage or loss of business for the person or company who/which is the lawful owner of the trademark. The court further held that, for the plaintiff his appearance was a mark because of which he cashed out profits, any copying or character marchandising of his appearance would amount to infringement. Court meted out a compensatory amount equal to Rs. 1,00,000 to the Plaintiff for the damages caused to him because of character merchandising.
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