Are Character Rights of Athletes Protected in India? – SLPRR

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[Author: Vanya Agarwal, student of law at Jindal Global Law School, India]

Let’s discuss sports activities legislation S4_E13

Final yr, the information of Indian shuttler PV Sindhu being the primary Indian lady to win two Olympic medals for the nation was flooding the social media and information channels.  Whereas the entire nation was celebrating the win, concurrently the headline “PV Sindhu takes 20 brands to court for using her name and image without permission” was being circulated. This sparked a much-needed dialogue within the Indian Sports activities Regulation group about Character Rights of Athletes in India.

The sports industry accounts for more than 3% of the world trade. Because the creation of Indian Premier League (‘IPL’), the sports activities business has taken a flip in India and has develop into extraordinarily commercialized, with billions at stake. Every factor of sports activities is now a money-making alternative, be it broadcasting, merchandising, sponsorships, and many others. Due to their talent within the sport, their identify, picture, voice, and likeness, the gamers have garnered a industrial worth for themselves. This kinds part of the persona rights of an athlete, which is an inextricable a part of the athlete, and will be utilized solely with the athlete’s permission. Contracting these rights are an enormous income churner for athletes, which will be thought-about as fruits of their labour and coaching to excellent their talent, in accordance with the labour concept beneath Mental Property Rights jurisprudence. These persona rights play an enormous function within the success of a services or products, as a result of a well-known athlete’s image or identify has the potential to skyrocket the model’s revenues. The significance of persona rights will be highlighted by a state of affairs that occurred when Jose Mourinho left Chelsea and was appointed because the supervisor of Manchester United. It led to a huge dispute over his personality rights, as Chelsea owned multiple trademarks and other rights in his name. This led to Manchester United paying Chelsea an undisclosed, but most likely a handsome amount for these rights. If Manchester United wouldn’t have paid up, it could have meant that they might not be allowed to make use of Jose Mourinho’s photos, identify, autograph and many others., as a part of their promotions.

India, like most nations world wide, doesn’t have a separate statue governing persona rights. Presently, the Mental Property Rights regime in India doesn’t outline persona rights and neither does it shield these rights immediately. With the intention to shield oneself, an athlete would often should both trademark their identify or take shelter beneath the frequent legislation precept of passing off, limiting the safety out there to them. The Promoting Requirements Council of India (‘ASCI’) additionally supplies a recourse to athletes, whose goodwill could be monetized for the advantage of a 3rd celebration, with out their permission. Below the ASCI code, commercials can not comprise of reference to a different particular person, agency or establishment, with out their permission. Though these guidelines present some degree of safety, they’re nonetheless unreliable, contemplating that the jurisdiction of the ASCI is contentious.

In contrast to the legislature, the Indian judiciary has been greater than receptive in the direction of the necessity for formal recognition of persona rights. Within the case of ICC Development (International)Ltd. v. Aarvee Enterprises & Anr, the Delhi Hight Court docket acknowledged that the roots of publicity rights are imbedded in Article 19 and 21 of the Indian Structure, and evolve from proper to privateness. The court docket additional went on to present an instance, that if Sachin Tendulkar’s identify/persona is ever utilized in connection to the ‘World Cup’ with out his permission then he would have a sound reason behind motion. The Delhi Excessive Court docket, in Titan Industries Ltd. v. Ramkumar Jewellers, additionally acknowledged {that a} well-known persona shall have the fitting to manage when, the place and the way their id is used and such proper ought to vest with the well-known persona. Different landmark circumstances in relation to persona rights would come with, Sourav Ganguly v. Tata Tea Ltd. whereby the court docket offered reduction to Sourav Ganguly and said that his reputation and persona type part of his mental property, which can’t be used to spice up sale of tea packets, with out his permission.

Though the Indian Courts proceed to acknowledge persona rights as and when claims come up, it nonetheless leaves a degree of uncertainty as to the end result of those claims, contemplating there’s nonetheless no Supreme Court docket judgment particularly recognizing the identical. With the rising commercialization of sports activities, a statue recognizing persona rights is required now, greater than ever. India ought to comply with the footsteps of nations like Brazil, the place the Brazilian Federal Constitution protects personality rights and specifies that it can only be exploited by a third party via an assignment agreement. India has an extended approach to go with regards to formal recognition of persona rights, however sport personalities like PV Sindhu recognizing their rights and holding the violators accountable is certainly a step ahead in the fitting path.

(Observe: The time period Character rights, Publicity Rights and Picture Rights are used interchangeably relying on the jurisdiction)

*For any question, suggestions, or dialogue, Vanya will be contacted at [[email protected]]

*NOTE- The opinions and views expressed on this article are that of the Creator(s) and never of SLPRR- the expressed opinions don’t, in any manner in any way, replicate the views of any third celebration, together with any establishment/organisation that the Creator(s) is/are at present related to or was/had been related to prior to now. Moreover, the expressions are solely for informational and academic functions, and should not be deemed to represent any sort of recommendation. The hyperlinks on this weblog may take you to webpages operated by third parties- SLPRR doesn’t assure or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any info, knowledge, opinions, recommendation, statements, and many others. on these webpages.

PREFERRED CITATION: Vanya Agarwal, Are Character Rights of Athletes Protected in India, SLPRR < in a brand new tab)> June 22, 2022.