HC clears use of Mersal for Vijay’s flick

Actor Vijay.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

The Madras High Court on Friday vacated an interim injunction granted by it on September 22 restraining Thenandal Studios from using the title Mersal for its upcoming Tamil movie starring actor Vijay. Justice Anita Sumanth not only vacated the injunction but also dismissed the application seeking interim orders.

Passing a detailed order, the judge held that mere registration of the titles ‘Merrasalaitan’ and ‘Naan Merrasalaitan’ with the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) would not give any right to the applicant, A. Rajendran of Film Factori, to contend that no other production house should use the title ‘Mersal’ for a movie.

‘Pre-existing word’

Though the applicant’s counsel had contended that the term Mersal was coined by his client and hence could not be used at will by others, the judge disagreed with him.

She pointed out that the word was actually a local and casual adoption of a pre-existing Tamil word “available for use in all its colour and connotation as the language would allow.”

Justice Sumanth also recalled that the Supreme Court in Krishika Lulla versus Shyam Vithalrao Devkatta (2016) had concluded that no copyright would subsist in the title of a literary work and the only remedy, if at all, that could be sought for by the aggrieved was in an action for passing off (misrepresentation).

Stating that even for making out a case for passing off, the applicant would have to establish deception and loss of reputation caused by such deception, the judge said: “In the present case, there is not a shred of evidence on record to show that the respondent has exploited the reputation of the applicant in connection with the use of title in question.

“The alleged action for passing off has to be seen in the context of whether the title in question has been exploited by the applicant at all. As it has been revealed, the title has not been put to use by the applicant even for himself and so the question of riding on the reputation of the applicant qua the title Mersal thus hardly arises.”

Though the applicant had reportedly registered the title Merrasalaitan with the TFPC in 2014 and also created promotion materials for his proposed movie, “the advertisements are yet to see the light of the day. The applicant would make a lukewarm attempt to state that production has commenced now.”

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 4:19:05 PM |

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