Delhi High Court Protects Jackie Shroff’s Personality Rights, Restrains Unauthorized Use of His Attributes

In a recent interim order, the Delhi High Court has safeguarded the personality and publicity rights of veteran actor Jackie Shroff. The court has restrained various entities, including e-commerce stores, AI chatbots, and social media accounts, from using Shroff’s name, image, voice, and likeness without his explicit consent.

Justice Sanjeev Narula, presiding over the case, recognized Shroff’s “status as a celebrity” which confers upon him rights over his personality traits and associated attributes. The court’s decision took into account Shroff’s prolific career spanning over 220 films, his appearances in TV shows and web series, numerous endorsements, and his trademarked term ‘Bhidu’.

The court observed that Shroff’s commercial endorsements, which leverage his distinct personality and characteristics, are under his exclusive control and constitute his ‘personality rights’ and ‘publicity rights.’ Unauthorized commercial use of these attributes not only infringes upon these rights but also dilutes the brand equity Shroff has built over the years.

The defendant entities, which include e-commerce stores selling merchandise like posters, mugs, and T-shirts bearing Shroff’s image, have been issued notices. Until the next hearing date, they are restrained from infringing the actor’s personality rights.

Additionally, the court addressed a YouTube video featuring Shroff that has been edited to portray him with a ‘Thug Life’ caption, a term often associated with resilience and toughness in popular culture. The court noted that the term is generally used to highlight cleverness or resistance in a positive light. It viewed the video as a potential tribute to Shroff’s assertive demeanor, highlighting his charisma and wit.

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Justice Narula emphasized the importance of creative freedom, noting that restricting such expression could have far-reaching implications, potentially stifling public discourse and artistic expression. The court expressed its intention to hear from the defendant content creator and at this stage, declined to impose a prima facie interim injunction against them.

The matter is set to be reviewed further in a hearing scheduled for October 15.

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