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August 21, 2020

Satire Web Portal restrained from sharing fake news on account of infringement and disparagement

Author: Sri Lekha

In the matter of Anhueser Busch Llc vs Rishav Sharma & Ors [IAs 6320/2020, 6321/2020, 6322/2020 & 6323/2020 in CS(COMM) 288/2020], a Single Judge [Justice V. Kameswar Rao] of the High Court of Delhi, vide  order dated July 30, 2020, granted an ad interim injunction restraining the Defendants from, inter alia, broadcasting the alleged fake news of the Plaintiff’s employees urinating in its ‘Budweiser’ beer.

Defendant Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (“Defendants”) are the alleged proprietors of the website www.thefauxy.com. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendants’ posts (which include a short video) on social media, such as YouTube (Defendant No. 4) and Twitter (Defendant No. 5), perpetrated fake news stating that the Plaintiff’s employees have been urinating in its ‘Budweiser’ beer sold to the customers. The Defendants’ social media posts, as per the Plaintiff, contain no disclaimer that such news is fake or fictitious.

Alleging trademark infringement and disparagement, the Plaintiff submitted that the aforesaid video became viral and resulted in several defamatory posts across social media. Further, the Plaintiff submitted that a few publications even reported the fictitious news as being a legitimate fact. The Plaintiff contended that the Defendants have knowingly and with malice published the defamatory posts to propagate the fictitious/fake news of the Plaintiff’s employees urinating in the Budweiser beer sold to the customers.

Observing that the Plaintiff has made out a prima-facie case and established the balance of convenience in its favour, the Court held “… it is directed that the defendant Nos. 1, 2 and 3 defendant Nos. 1, 2 and 3, their partners, agents, assigns, officers, servants, affiliated entities, as the case may be, and all others acting for and on their behalf are restrained from reproducing, broadcasting, communicating to the public, screening, publishing and distributing the impugned video or any other video on any media or platform and promoting the impugned video on various social media amounting to infringement of plaintiff’s registered mark ‘Budweiser’ and also amounting to commercial disparagement of the plaintiff’s products including but not limited to the video / post published on the following four URLs till the next date of hearing….”.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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