Bombay High Court quashes FIR towards Newslaundry reporter in Trademark infringement case through Sakal Media Group

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday quashed a First Information Report (FIR) lodged towards Newslaundry journalist, Prateek Goyal via way of means of the Sakal Media Group for allegedly committing offences in the Trademarks Act (Prateek Chandragupt Goyal v. the State of Maharashtra).

Goyal had moved the High Court assailing the FIR lodged in June 2020 primarily based totally on the grievance of Mahendra Pisal, Chief Administrative Officer of Sakal Group (which publishes newspapers in Marathi and English).

The FIR said that Goyal had devoted offence in Section 103 of the Trademarks Act via way of means of falsely making use of logos of the Sakal Media Group in articles he authored and which regarded on the Newslaundry website.

In the absence of elements of the offence being made out, even on admitted data, the FIR couldn’t be registered, the courtroom docket located whilst intending to quash the FIR.

Before accommodations of the FIR, a criminal note became despatched to Goyal alleging defamation and annoying damages to the track of Rs. 6,50,000 to which Goyal replied.

Sakal Group additionally filed a healthy towards Newslaundry looking for an injunction order towards Goyal and instructions to put off the articles from the information portal. There became but an order of intervening time injunction in favour of Sakal Group concerning the depiction of its mark via way of means of Goyal in the future.

The gift plea became filed in October 2020 and the High Court authorized the research to continue, however, had directed that the charge sheet will be filed most effective after taking permission from the Court.

Thereafter, in January 2021, this Court recorded a declaration that Goyal might seem earlier than the Investigating Officer on a particular date, and it became directed that the IO shall now no longer insist on manufacturing of pc and difficult disk.

Senior Advocate Nikhil Sakhardande arguing for Newslaundry submitted that the trademark of Sakal Group became now no longer carried out to both any items or any offerings thereby indicating that there has been absolute confidence of falsely making use of the change mark.

He submitted that if Goyal had used the trademark in any way indicating that Newslaundry had proven itself to be an information portal of Sakal Group, then it can be a case of fake making use of logos thereby attracting the elements of the offence in Section 103 of the Act.

But that became now no longer the case with inside the gift remember, it became argued.

“Trademark of Sakal Media Group became proven with inside the articles written via way of means of the petitioner and posted at the information portal ‘Newslaundry’, most effective to suggest that the ones precise articles pertained to the Sakal Media Group” Sakhardande argued.

Sakhardande additionally submitted that the Goyals act became covered as a nominative honest use of the change mark of Sakal Media Group in provision Section 30 (limits on impact of registered change mark) of the Act.

Lastly, it became submitted that Sakal Media had already initiated civil court cases looking for injunction in appreciate of the stated articles and, therefore complaint of any type will be addressed earlier than the Civil Court.

Advocate Neha Prashant, performing for Sakal Group, submitted that via way of means of prominently displaying the mark at the defamatory articles posted at the information portal ‘Newslaundry’, Goyal had falsely carried out the registered trademark of Sakal Media Group.

When the word ‘Sakal’ became clicked on online search, it caused the stated articles, thereby demonstrating the fee of the offence.

Based on the proof earlier than it, the Court located that the stated articles in the query neither certified as items nor as offerings as described in the Act.

“No doubt, the mark proven withinside the articles are certainly the ‘change mark’ of Sakal Media Group in Section 2(z)(b) of the aforesaid Act, however, the stated mark being proven withinside the articles can’t be stated to be withinside the context of both ‘items’ or ‘offerings,” the Court stated.

The Court similarly said that there has been no proposal that the information portal itself became that of ‘Sakal’.

Further, simply due to the fact a web looks for the word ‘Sakal’ caused the aforesaid articles of the petitioner posted withinside the information portal ‘Newslaundry’, does now no longer imply that the registered change mark of Sakal Media Group became falsely carried out to items or offerings via way of means of the petitioner.

The Bench opined that at worst, if the web look for Sakal caused the stated articles, then that could be challenging remember of an injunction healthy however that falls in the realm of a civil dispute that might be raised via way of means of Sakal Group.

Holding that Goyal had made out a case for the Court to exercise its top-notch jurisdiction in Article 226 and Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Court quashed and set apart the FIR towards Goyal.

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