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Gujarat ad agency ‘All About Ads’ takes Divya Bhaskar to court over ‘copying’ its campaign

A civil suit has been filed against Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati daily from the Dainik Bhaskar Group, before a commercial court at Mizapur, Ahmedabad, for alleged copyright infringement and plagiarism of its campaign "Desh Ke Hero" created for the Government of India. The civil suit is expected to be heard today

All About Ads, a Gujarat-based advertising agency, has dragged Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati newspaper of the Dainik Bhaskar Group, to court over alleged copyright infringement and plagiarism of its campaign "Desh Ke Hero", a campaign created for the Government of India aimed at felicitating Corona Warriors across the nation.

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A civil suit has been filed against Divya Bhaskar (Dainik Bhaskar Group), it’s Chief Executive Officer Sanjeev Chauhan and Managing Directors Girish Agarwal and Sudhir Agarwal by Ankur Jain, Director of All About Ads, before the commercial court at Mizapur, Ahmedabad.

Divya Bhaskar’s Brand Head Amit Rathod and Eight Petals Creative Solution Private Limited have also been added as defendants in the suit.

The suit demands damages to the tune of Rs 9.5 crore along with seeking a restraint on Divya Bhaskar from publishing the campaign.

When contacted, a spokesperson from DB Group told that the allegation by the agency is wrong. Lawyers on behalf of the company are looking after the matter.

On July 31, 2020, Jain learnt that the defendants had allegedly reproduced his work and put their name on another campaign titled “Gujarat Hero”. According to the complaint, the campaign “Gujarat Hero” is not a case of innocent adoption, but of a fraudulent and dishonest adoption. The agency alleged that Divya Bhaskar did not obtain any licence, permission and/or consent and used the said script of the campaign solely for the “self-serving interest”.

According to Jain, he shared the campaign idea and work with Amit Rathod (Brand Head, Divya Bhaskar) in good faith for his feedback and review. He claimed to have known Rathod from 2013 and have worked together commercially on several campaigns created by Jain.

On August 1, 2020, Jain, Rathod and Chauhan had a telephonic conversation, apologising for the incident.

Jain said Rathod when confronted admitted about the mistake he made and that he would discuss this with his editor.

The transcripts of all the calls and a screenshot of the message have been annexed with the plaint before the civil court.

The shared work bore a “specific Disclaimer at the end which specified that the information contained in the presentation was privileged and that the entire presentation was the property of the agency.” Rathod infringed the agency’s copyright by sharing the campaign work with Chauhan.

Jain alleged that DB dishonestly obtained the consent of the Gujarat Government for the campaign. The agency said that the Gujarat government would not have contributed in DB’s campaign “Gujarat Hero” if it was aware that DB has committed theft of the intellectual property of the agency and misappropriated their confidential data. “DB suppressed the fact from the Gujarat Government that the agency was in talks with the GoI for the release of the campaign Desh Ke Hero,” a statement from the agency said.

The civil court issued summons to the Dainik Bhaskar Group on September 19. It is expected to be heard on October 1.

All About Ads has also filed a criminal case before the magistrate court at Mizapur, Ahmedabad, which was heard on September 7. “As per the magistrate’s directions, the police recorded my statement,” said Jain.

Details from the plaint

In April, the agency created the project “Desh Ke Hero” for the GoI as a national campaign to facilitate honouring of Corona Warriors, wherein merchandise and certificates were to be presented to the awardees. This project was created in the form of literary script, dramatic, artistic and visual work presentation under title “Desh Ke Hero”, which qualifies to be original literary, artistic and dramatic work within the meaning of Section 2(y) of the Copyright Act 1957.

The campaign was proposed to the GoI and was first published by the agency on April 11, 2020.

Jain said, “My team and I worked really hard for ‘Desh Ke Hero’ campaign and it was wrong on the part of Divya Bhaskar to steal the concept and showcase ‘Gujarat Hero’ campaign as theirs.”

Prayers in the plaint

The agency has sought that the defendants be restrained from using their campaign “Gujarat Hero”. It further sought that the court declares that the campaign “Gujarat Hero” as a work of copyright infringement and plagiarism of the agency’s campaign “DeshKe Hero”. The plaint said the defendants should be ordered to destroy all the material prepared for the “Gujarat Hero” campaign and the domain agency has also sought token damage for illegal use of their work. It said Divya Bhaskar should be directed to produce their books of accounts to ascertain the profits earned by commercialising and reproducing the agency’s work.

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