In a confusing move, a law firm for the agency that represents cricketer Prithvi Shaw have sent cease-and-desist notices to FreeCharge and Swiggy for social media posts celebrating his first innings. The Economic Times, which first reported on the notices, seems to have taken down its story on the subject. MediaNama has a copy of both notices.
What the notices say
“Our Client has absolute and exclusive right to fully market and monetize all commercial rights associated with the Player in all territories globally including without limitation, media and broadcasting rights (on all platforms like TV, Radio, internet, social media, multimedia, books and publications, outdoor advertising, print, mobile phones, digital etc), sponsorship and advertising rights, licensing and merchandising rights, gaming rights, media footage rights, apparel rights, website rights etc.”
“It is absolutely clear from your advertisement that you are encashing the name and fame of the Player without any authorization from Our Client merely to cause unlawful gain to yourself and unlawful loss to Our Client.”
Interestingly, the notice to Swiggy says that the company engaged in “passing off” and “dilution”, which are trademark violations. It’s unclear how individual public figures, and references to their highly public achievements, violate trademark law. In effect, the notices seem to be seeking the curtailment of cultural conversation surrounding Prithvi Shaw — they have demanded that the websites take down their celebratory posts and pay Rs 1 crore in compensation. Swiggy told Inc42 that it doesn’t see any merit in the legal notice, while FreeCharge has taken down its post.
Baseline Ventures, the agency that represents Shaw, told Inc42, “There is no problem on congratulating a player or an athlete or any talent. The issue is, when you use that congratulatory message and on top of that brand attribute links to the success of the talent, then obviously, it would be inflicting into someone’s right or is potential to hurt. We needed to deflect. We cannot have brands or companies trying to use these kind of ambush marketing communication.”