DM Entertainment v. Baby Gift House and Ors.
Daler Mehendi, the famous pop star from Punjab has a large fan base and is extremely popular amongst Punjabi pop music lovers. DM Entertainment was incorporated in 1996 to manage the artist’s escalating career. The defendant’s company was making a large business by selling miniature dolls of the artist and cashing on his popularity. The plaintiff company was extremely aggrieved and filed for a permanent injunction from infringing the artist’s right of publicity and false endorsement leading to passing off.
The plaintiff company was assigned all rights, titles, and interests in the personality of the artist along with the trademark, Daler Mehendi. The plaintiff argued that the unauthorized or unlicensed use of the artist’s reputation with respect to goods or services will deceive the public into believing that the goods and services are associated with the singer and hence, would lead to passing off. The plaintiff further submitted that such use was done for commercial exploitation without adequate permission from the person or any other authorized by him and shall constitute an infringement of the person’s right to publicity.
Character merchandising is an area of law that is still unexplored in India. This was the first case that dealt with the issue of celebrity merchandising where the publicity rights of the artist were given due recognition.