No copyright exists on Title of literary work: Supreme Court

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Who: No copyright exists on Title of literary work
What: Ruling made by Supreme Court
When: 22 October 2015

The Supreme Court in its judgment on 22 October 2015 held that no copyright exists on the title of a literary work. The ruling was made by a bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and SA Bobde.

The bench passed the order on an appeal filed by Krishika Lulla and others against an order of the Bombay High Court which refused to quash a complaint filed by writer Shyam Vithalrao Devkatta.

As per the judgment passed, no copyright subsists in the title of a literary work and a plaintiff or a complainant is not entitled to relief on such basis except in an action for passing off or in respect of a registered trademark comprising such titles.

The bench also held that it did not find any copyright in the title Desi Boys and thus no question of its infringement arises. The prosecution based on allegations of infringement of copyright in such a title is untenable.

Background

Writer Shyam Vithalrao Devkatta had claimed copyright in a synopsis of a story written by him with the title Desi Boys. According to him, he got the synopsis of Desi Boys registered with the Film Writers Association in 2008.

Later, he mailed the concept of the story in the form of a synopsis when one of his friends asked him for his help. His friend Ramesh Bhatnagar forwarded the story to Ahsan Sagar on 15 October 2009 terming it as just an idea by email.

What was actually forwarded was apparently the same short synopsis of the concept with the title Desi Boys. Later, Devkatta saw the promos of a film bearing the title Desi Boys, actually spelt as Desi Boyz. According to him, the adoption of the title of the Akshay Kumar-starrer Desi Boyz was a clear infringement of the copyright in the film title Desi Boys.