Newspapers are a day to day source of information and entertainment that had halted physical distribution in various parts of the country amidst the lockdown. However, several publications conquered this adversity by making accessible their publications digitally.
M/s. Jagran Prakash Ltd. (“Plaintiff”) is the owner of the physically distributed newspaper Dainik Jagran, which is now also made accessible to its readers on its website. However, the same cannot be downloaded for circulation. It was recently brought to the Plaintiff’s notice that their newspaper was being unlawfully circulated using Telegram Channels thereby causing pecuniary loss, violating their copyrights and trademarks, and filing of the present case. The Dainik Jagran website has a security feature that does not allows readers to download the newspaper. Jagran Prakash Ltd. is the absolute owner of the trademark ‘Dainik Jagran’ with its variations registered in the number of classes.
Telegram FZ LLC (“Defendant”) thorough its application Telegram enables its users to form channels and share files, in the present case the files being unlawfully downloaded recent edition PDF copies of the
Plaintiff’s e-paper and also permitting users to download all the previous edition of the e-paper, which otherwise was the only access to a user only if he subscribes to the e-paper.
Plaintiff had issued notices dated (a) 9th April 2020, (b) 16th April 2020, (c) 30th April 2020, and (d) 1st May 2020, on the Defendant, to which there was no reply. Plaintiff served a copy of the plaint and documents on the Defendant on 23rd May 2020 and thereafter received a reply dated 25th May 2020 from the Defendant stating that channels had been blocked. The Plaintiff had placed on record a screenshot of 28th May 2020, whereby the said channels were not only available but had also grown in numbers.
Plaintiff relied on Section 79 of the Information Technology Act and submitted that the Defendant could not escape from its liability under the guise of being an intermediary for the Defendant was needed to conduct due diligence in terms of Rule 3 sub-rule 4 of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 on being informed about the misuse, the Defendant is required to pull down the said channels within thirty-six hours.
However, despite repeated reminders, the said channels had not been pulled down and the reply of the Defendant received on 25th May 2020, that the channel had been blocked was also wrong in view of the screenshot of the channel dated 28th May 2020.
The issue was whether there was an infringement of the plaintiff’s right by creating a channel that led to the unauthorized circulation of the Plaintiff's e-paper in PDF form by several unidentified users (Defendant), thereby infringing upon the trademark and copyright subsisting in the said e-paper.
The Court held that the balance of convenience was in favor of the Plaintiff and that the Plaintiff had made out a prima facie case thereby granting an ad-interim injunction in favor of the Plaintiff.
The Court has directed the Defendant to reveal the basic information of subscribers of the channels and has ordered the Defendant to take down or block the channels within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the order. The court agreed with the plaintiff, that the defendant could not continue to claim its intermediary status, thereby ordering the defendant to block the infringing channels and to reveal the names of all the users who had started each of these channels.