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Delhi High Court disposes of ShareChat’s case against ByteDance’s Helo

The Delhi High Court last week disposed of a case filed by ShareChat against its rival Helo, which is owned by China’s Bytedance. The court set the case aside after Helo made various changes, including to its design and content, without being ordered to. The judgement is not yet available on the Delhi High Court’s website, but previous orders are. In its lawsuit, ShareChat had accused Helo of being a “complete copy” of its own app, saying it mimicked not only its design and features but even the look of individual icons. It also accused Helo of copying various posts and comments by ShareChat users and attributing them to fictitious people on its own app. Additionally, it said that ByteDance was unfairly bidding on the keyword ‘ShareChat’ on AdWords, Google’s advertising platform, to secure a higher placement in a Google search for that keyword. It claimed that this not only constituted copyright infringement but also gave the impression that ShareChat was owned by or associated with Helo and ByteDance.

Helo changes design, stops bidding on ShareChat keyword

On November 1st last year, the court noted that Helo had:

  • Changed the user interface and login screen of its app
  • Tweaked the partial image that appeared in its listing on the Google Play Store
  • Discontinued and/or deactivated its keywords involving ‘Share’ and ‘Chat’ on Google Adwords
  • Changed the content categories and sub-categories on its app

In an order on April 14, the court told ShareChat’s lead counsel to ask his client if the suit could be disposed of, given that Helo had made the changes it was seeking. It posted the matter for May 17, when it finally disposed of the case.

TikTok has its own troubles with the law

Helo is Bytedance’s second-most popular platform in India after TikTok, which has seen its fair share of legal troubles as well. Less than a month ago, the Madras High Court lifted its ban on downloading TikTok, subject to the condition that it would not host “obscene” content. The order stated that the court considered TikTok’s submissions to it an undertaking that any “negative and inappropriate or obscene materials would be filtered, and if any violation is found later, this Court would seriously view it as contempt of Court.” The order however did not define what may be construed as negative, inappropriate or obscene.

The court had imposed the temporary ban on April 3, on the grounds that the app was responsible for spreading pornography, potentially exposing children to sexual predators, and adversely impacting its users’ mental health. The ban, however, only applied to downloads of the app, and existing users could continue to use it. Google and Apple removed TikTok from their app stores on April 18 on the HC’s orders. TikTok appealed to the Supreme Court, which directed the Madras HC to rule on TikTok’s appeal by April 24, failing which the ban would end. Tik Tok was back on the Play Store and App Store before the end of the month, and by May 5 it was once again the top free app on iOS and the top free social app on Android. India is by far Tik Tok’s largest market, with the more than 120 million monthly active accounts, per Tech Crunch.

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