COPYRIGHT NOT REGISTERED? NO PROBLEM, YOUR RIGHT IS STILL ENFORCEABLE: – Eshwars
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COPYRIGHT NOT REGISTERED? NO PROBLEM, YOUR RIGHT IS STILL ENFORCEABLE:

Authored by Padma Akila

In a recent interim order passed on the 9th March 2021, in the matter of Sanjay Soya Private Limited V Narayani Trading Company, the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay held that registration of a copyright is not mandatory for the purposes of filing an infringement action under the Copyright Act, 1957.

If a brand owner’s logo has original, creative and artistic characteristics, it is advisable for such brand owners to additionally seek a copyright protection over the same under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957 as an artistic work apart from seeking a trademark registration over the same under the Trademarks Act, 1999. This additional protection under the Copyright Act, 1957 also entitles such brand owners to enforce their proprietary rights and seek remedies available under the Copyright Act, 1957 in case of any infringement by third parties. Registration of logos can greatly benefit brand owners and have high evidentiary value in both, trademark and copyright enforcement and infringement prosecutions. Therefore, an ideal plan of action for a brand owner, would be to seek protection of their original and unique logos under both the laws. While it is compulsory for a trademark to be registered for filing an infringement action under the Trademarks Act, 1999, registration of an artistic work (logo) as a copyright is not mandatory for the same purpose under the Copyright Act, 1957, and this was confirmed by the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in the aforesaid matter. Hon’ble Justice GS Patel while delivering the judgment emphasized on the literal interpretation of Section 51 of the Copyright Act (Section 51 defines infringement of copyright) which read with Section 45 (1) (which says that the owner of copyright may apply for registration) establishes that copyright infringement lies in the unlicensed use of original works, in which the author has a range of exclusive rights and that registration is not a prerequisite. The Court also declared that two of the earlier single bench decisions of the Bombay High Court in Hiraj Dharamdas Dewani v. Sonal Info Systems Pvt Ltd & Ors., 2012 (3) Mh LJ 888, and Gulfam Exporters & Ors. v. Sayed Hamid & Ors. (unreported) have not followed the correct interpretations of the provisions under the Copyright Act, 1957 nor have they considered authoritative precedents that had interpreted the law on the subject matter rightly.

In this regard, it is stated the Indian Courts have on various occasions held time and again that a registration under the Copyright Act, 1957 merely raises a prima facie evidence of ownership of the registrant in respect of the particulars entered in the Register of Copyright and the presumption is however not conclusive. It is pertinent to note that a Copyright subsists as soon as the work is created and given a material form even if it is not registered.

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