Our celebrities’ lives have become so public lately that most of us have almost forgotten that they have a personal life too, which like all of us they would want to keep secret and private, [read away from the paparazzi].
Celebrities in India (particularly actors and film makers) have become extremely vigilant of their rights. There has been a considerable increase in the number of cases requesting for John Doe orders, recognition of celebrity rights and the number of trademark applications for the name of famous personalities have arisen. The Courts in many cases have recognized the concept of personality rights and have even decided cases when there has been unauthorized use of a personality’s name. However, a recent order passed by the Madras High Court went a step ahead. In a case filed by the super star of the Tamil Film Industry Rajnikanth against Varsha Productions, the Court granted an interim injunction against use of Rajnikanth’s name, image, caricature and even his style of delivering dialogues!
Shakespeare’s ‘what’s in a name’ was apt for utopian times when he was of the view that a rose would smell like a rose even if it were called by another name. Today, in the world of competition, when celebrities are trying to out-do each other in the race for fame and endorsements, trademark rights are significantly important. Lately, Shahrukh Khan has been in the news for reasons other than the release of his latest film Happy New Year. A number of newspapers recently reported that the actor’s initial SRK is now a trademark. An internet search with the keywords ‘shahrukh khan’ and ‘trademark’ will throw up several articles from 2012 when he applied for a trademark. I found that all these articles had something in common – misconceptions regarding trademark rights. So the actor has a registration for the initials SRK, what next? Can he stop anyone from using his initials?! In this article, I have discussed a few aspects relating to celebrities trademarking their names/initials, advantages of doing so and what it means for the public in general.
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