8 May 2023 4:18 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has directed Google to take down Youtube videos claiming that Indian spices contain cow urine and cow dung — while displaying images of 'Catch' products — in case they resurface on the video sharing platform. Google told the court that the impugned videos are no longer available for viewing.Justice Sanjeev Narula said that the YouTube Channels - ‘TVR’ and...
The Delhi High Court has directed Google to take down Youtube videos claiming that Indian spices contain cow urine and cow dung — while displaying images of 'Catch' products — in case they resurface on the video sharing platform. Google told the court that the impugned videos are no longer available for viewing.
Justice Sanjeev Narula said that the YouTube Channels - ‘TVR’ and ‘Views NNews’, maliciously uploaded the videos containing derogatory and untrue remarks against Indian spices, particularly those sold under the 'Catch' brand and deliberately attempted to defame and disparage its goods, by creating and uploading the said videos.
The court made the observation while dealing with a plea filed by Dharampal Satyapal Sons Private Limited, whose trademark 'Catch' has been in use since 1987 for food and beverages, including spices.
The court held that apart from the fact that the videos contained defamatory remarks against “CATCH” products, without any basis, the YouTube Channels also published the former’s registered copyrights, without its consent or authorisation, and thus, infringed its copyright.
In its plea seeking permanent injunction against defamation and disparagement of its products, Dharampal Satyapal said that the YouTube channel ‘TVR’ posted videos displaying photographs of 'Catch' products, with a voiceover running defamatory and disparaging statements against the products. It further said that ‘TVR’ had included various news reports and screenshots of news articles to generate a sense of authenticity among the viewers.
It further alleged that the video uploaded by the YouTube Channel ‘Views NNews’ falsely claimed that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has analysed spice samples and found them to contain cow urine, cow dung along with bird feathers, beetles, cow hair, rat hair and droppings. After displaying some other clips, the video displayed images of 'CATCH' products with a corresponding voiceover stating that it was no longer disputed that the imported Indian processed foods and edibles have cow urine and cow dung, the court was told.
The bench noted that after becoming aware of the videos, Dharampal Satyapal had lodged multiple complaints with YouTube, which was duly acknowledged by ‘TVR’, however, the concerned YouTube channels failed to remove the infringing content from YouTube.
After the YouTube channels failed to appear in response to the summons issued to them in the suit, they were proceeded ex-parte and the ad-interim injunction passed by the court directing Google to block the concerned YouTube videos, was made absolute. The plaintiff thus sought a summary judgement against the defendants — Google L.L.C, the YouTube Channels ‘TVR’ and ‘Views NNews’.
After Google submitted that the videos in question are no longer available for viewing, Dharampal Satyapal pleaded that directions be issued to ensure that if the concerned videos resurface, Google would take immediate steps to block their viewing within India. It relied upon the obligation casted on the intermediaries under Rule 4(4) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021, in support of its plea.
Referring to the facts of the case, the court concluded that the YouTube videos contained defamatory remarks against the plaintiff-company’s products, without any basis.
“Plaintiff has placed on record a list of ingredients contained in their products/ spices advertised in the impugned videos. They have obtained certifications from all concerned regulatory bodies and have even presented reports of an independent food analysis from a certified laboratory, which do not indicate presence of cow dung, cow urine or any other contaminants, as alleged in the impugned videos. There is no authoritative material or underlying reason or assumption for Defendants No. 2 and 3 to make false claims and disseminate fallacious information under the garb of revealing the ‘truth/facts about Indian spices’,” said the court.
The court added the creators have attempted to give a semblance of authenticity by displaying photographs of US FDA reports, news programmes, private studies etc., however, there is not an iota of legitimacy in such allegations as these purported reports have been skilfully created, altered and then used mischievously to portray that their claims are genuine.
The bench observed that the plaintiff has a standing in the market, which is being tarnished due to the content of the YouTube videos.
“A perusal of the comments to said YouTube videos shows that members of the public are being influenced and led into believing such false statements, causing grave prejudice to Plaintiff,” the court said, adding that there is a high probability that the defamatory videos could be shared/ seen by a large number of unsuspecting members of the public.
The court concluded that the creation and uploading of the videos by the YouTube Channels was a deliberate attempt to defame and disparage the company’s goods bearing the “CATCH” mark, along with constituting an infringement of its copyright.
“The Court is convinced that creation and uploading of the impugned videos by Defendants No. 2 and 3 is a deliberate attempt to defame and disparage Plaintiff’s goods bearing the CATCH mark. That apart, the said Defendants have published Plaintiff’s registered copyrights, without their consent or authorisation, thereby infringing their copyright,” the bench said.
While noting that the defendant-YouTube Channels had consciously opted to evade contest in the suit, the court said that in the absence of any defence, the company’s claims are uncontroverted.
“Defendants No. 2 and 3 have maliciously uploaded the impugned videos containing derogatory and untrue remarks against Indian spices, particularly those sold under Plaintiff’s CATCH brand, on the internet. Their malafide is further manifested by their inaction in removing the infringing content from YouTube after the Plaintiff had raised a complaint, which was duly acknowledged by Defendant No. 2,” said the court.
While issuing a decree of permanent injunction against ‘TVR’ and ‘Views NNews’, the court further directed, “It is directed that in the event the impugned videos 1, 2 and 3 resurface on Defendant No. 1’s YouTube platform, the Plaintiff shall be at liberty to supply the concern URLs to Defendant No. 1, who shall take appropriate action to block/ take down the same, in accordance with law. However, in case Defendant No. 1 comes to the conclusion that the content is not identical to the impugned videos which have been injuncted, they shall inform the Plaintiff of the same, within a period of one week from the date of receipt of the request, whereafter Plaintiff shall be free to take recourse to appropriate measures available under law.”
Case Title: Dharampal Satyapal Sons Private Limited vs Google L.L.C. & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 377
Counsel for the Plaintiff: Ms. Vaishali Mittal, Mr. Pravin Anand, Mr. Siddhant Chamola and Mr. Shivang Sharma, Advocates.
Counsel for the Defendants: Ms. Mamta Rani Jha, Mr. Rohan Ahuja, Ms. Shruttima Ehersa, Mr. Vatsalya Vishal and Ms. Amishi Sodani, Advocates for D-1.
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