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 speak sports activities legislation S4_E13

Final 12 months, the information of Indian shuttler PV Sindhu being the primary Indian girl 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. For the reason that creation of Indian Premier League (‘IPL’), the sports activities trade has taken a flip in India and has grow to be extraordinarily commercialized, with billions at stake. Every component of sports activities is now a money-making alternative, be it broadcasting, merchandising, sponsorships, and so on. Due to their talent within the sport, their identify, picture, voice, and likeness, the gamers have garnered a business 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 of as fruits of their labour and coaching to good their talent, in accordance with the labour principle underneath Mental Property Rights jurisprudence. These persona rights play an enormous position 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 scenario 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 will have meant that they might not be allowed to make use of Jose Mourinho’s pictures, identify, autograph and so on., as a part of their promotions.

India, like most nations around the globe, doesn’t have a separate statue governing persona rights. At present, the Mental Property Rights regime in India doesn’t outline persona rights and neither does it shield these rights instantly. So as to shield oneself, an athlete would often should both trademark their identify or take shelter underneath the frequent legislation precept of passing off, limiting the safety accessible to them. The Promoting Requirements Council of India (‘ASCI’) additionally offers a recourse to athletes, whose goodwill is likely to be monetized for the advantage of a 3rd social gathering, with out their permission. Below the ASCI code, commercials can’t comprise of reference to a different individual, agency or establishment, with out their permission. Despite the fact that these guidelines present some degree of safety, they’re nonetheless unreliable, contemplating that the jurisdiction of the ASCI is contentious.

Not like the legislature, the Indian judiciary has been greater than receptive in 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 courtroom 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 suitable to regulate when, the place and the way their identification is used and such proper ought to vest with the well-known persona. Different landmark instances in relation to persona rights would come with, Sourav Ganguly v. Tata Tea Ltd. whereby the courtroom supplied aid to Sourav Ganguly and acknowledged 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.

Despite the fact that 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 may be 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 observe 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 method to go in relation to formal recognition of persona rights, however sport personalities like PV Sindhu recognizing their rights and holding the violators accountable is unquestionably a step ahead in the suitable 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 means by any means, mirror the views of any third social gathering, 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 type 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 data, information, opinions, recommendation, statements, and so on. on these webpages.

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