In a textbook case of David vs Goliath, Zee Entertainment Ltd agreed not to use the words “Comedy Factory” in any form after a Vadodara-based comedy and entertainment firm with the same name filed a trademark infringement suit in the Bombay High Court. Last month, the TV channel had announced a new show called the Zee Comedy Factory, starring Farah Khan as a “laughing Buddha”. That name will now have to be changed after Manan and Vidya Desai, who have been organising live comedy events and putting out digital content as The Comedy Factory since 2011, filed the lawsuit against the channel and the producer of the show.
“A fan messaged us on Instagram about this show, and the very next day we started trying to get in touch with the show’s producers,” Manan, who is an actor and comedian himself, told DeadAnt. “We had a dialogue with them and sent our trademark registry certificate, and we tried to get them to change the name. Eventually we had to send a legal notice, and only then did the TV channel respond to us. But they just decided to add their housemark in the front and call it Zee Comedy Factory.”
This exchange apparently happened in June, but the Desais had to wait till the TV channel started promoting the show on social media before they could file the trademark infringement lawsuit. Two hearings later, as the judge was preparing to reserve his orders, the TV channel’s legal representative finally agreed to change the name of the show. The High Court has asked the channel to file an affidavit stating that they will not use the title “The Comedy Factory” now or in the future, and also ordered them to pay Rs. 2 lakh as compensation for litigation costs.
For the Desais, this victory is not only a vindication of their own trademark rights, but also a reminder of the importance of securing your intellectual property rights as a digital content creator and entrepreneur. “In the digital era, not many people pay attention to the ethics of intellectual property,” said Vidya. “So if you’re creating anything that you think has value, you must register it with the government, and the law will provide you with all the protections you need.”
“When we asked our inner circle, 99% of our friends told us that there was no point in filing a lawsuit,” adds Manan. “But we won. And the message I would like to give to people is that you must register your trademarks and intellectual property, because only then are your rights are protected. In such cases, being in the right is not enough. You need the documentation.”