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Brands that sued movies for ‘misusing’ their names

Content with names of brands can do a world of good for the brand and the venture, like in ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’. But if not done right, it can also land people in big trouble

Soft drink brand Rasna has taken three production firms to court for using its name in the title of an upcoming Gujarati movie titled “Rasna No Dabbo”. The issue here, according to Rasna’s owner Piruz Khambatta, is not just that the film infringes on the brand’s trade name but also defames it.

In an article published by Brand Equity, Rasna’s counsel Jatin Trivedi was quoted as saying that since the word ‘No’ in the title is written in a small font, it is read as ‘Rasna Dabbo’, which the brand has found defamatory.

The Rs1-crore lawsuit may leave a bad taste in the mouth of those at the receiving end but it is not the first time brands have dragged people to court for using their names in songs and movies. Here are four other brands that went to court over trademark and copyright issues.

Emami

It would be hard to find someone in India who has not heard the hit song ‘Munni Badnaam’ from the movie Dabangg. Not only did the lyrics confound the audience, it also irked Zandu Balm’s parent company Emami Ltd. The song that had Malaika Arora Khan dancing to some ermmm unusual lyrics also mentioned the words ‘Zandu Balm’. Not too happy about it, Emami served a legal notice to Arbaaz Khan Productions for copyright infringement. But it all seems to have worked out for the Khans and as well as for the brand. The company and the production house decided to amicably settle the case. Not only did Emami end up using the song for its promotional campaigns, it also roped in Malaika Arora Khan as its brand ambassador.

Rooh Afza

Anyone who watched the movie ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ in cinema houses would have noticed the mention of the brand Rooh Afza. While Ranbir Kapoor is a much sought-after brand ambassador, Hamdard National Foundation, the makers of Rooh Afza, did not take kindly to what was said about the brand in the movie. The movie ran into legal trouble after the company moved the Delhi High Court seeking an apology from it for presenting the popular drink in a ‘bad light’. Dharma Productions, the makers of the film, however, refused to issue an apology, claiming the dialogues had already been removed from the DVD and TV versions of the film and that there was no intention to disparage the drink. The Delhi High Court restrained the makers of the movie from releasing it on TV, based on the law suit.

Murphy Radio

The movie Barfi faced its fair share of adulations and criticisms. While the performance of actors Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra was hailed, the movie was panned for being too “inspired”. But the importance of the brand Murphy was not lost on anyone who watched the movie. Not only did the electronics manufacturer find its name in the title song ‘Ala Barfi’, the lead is even named after the brand. Murphy Enterprises served a notice to UTV group, producers of the movie, and Ishaan films for the use of their registered trademarks, namely Murphy, Murphy Radio and Murphy Munna without obtaining a no-objection certificate. The company was seeking a compensation amounting to Rs 50 crore.

Bajaj

John Abraham’s upcoming movie landed in a soup for using the brand name Bajaj in its title ‘Hamara Bajaj’. Following the announcement of the film’s title, Bajaj Auto had taken John Abraham’s production company J A Entertainment Pvt Ltd to court over infringement of their trademark ‘Hamara Bajaj’. The Bombay High Court ruled in favour of the automobile company and granted them permanent injunction against the production company using ‘Hamara Bajaj’ in the title or anywhere in the movie.

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