Tekla Corporation & Anr. v. Survo Ghosh & Anr.

Tekla Corporation & Anr. v. Survo Ghosh & Anr.;

16.05.2014; CS(OS) 2414 of 2011 befpre the Delhi High Court


Plaintiffs filed a suit for infringement of Copyright in Computer Programme.

Defendant raised a defence of Copyright Misuse in the Statement and pressed for framing of issue on the same.

Plaintiff contended that there is no legal doctrine of Copyright Misuse.

After hearing the arguments of both the parties, the Hon’ble Court held that “in our legal frame work, the defence of “misuse of copyright” by the holder thereof is not available, neither to an action for infringement of copyright nor to an action for damages for infringement of copyright.”

The Court relied on the following grounds in support of it’s decision:

o To entertain a defence of copyright misuse would tantamount to making copyright a conditional right and would also amount to adding to/subtracting from the definition in Sections 51 and 52. This is impermissible in the light of Section 16.

o Copyright misuse, even in American jurisprudence has no statutory support. However, interference by the holder of copyright in creativity and enforcement of the public policy of permitting and ensuring fair use and creativity is a common thread in all the judgments. Copyright Act does deals with the said aspect.

o Even if the holder of a copyright, contractually or otherwise imposes such restrictions or prohibits doing of anything permitted by Section 52 or any other provision of the Copyright Act or any other law, the same would not bind anyone or be enforceable in law and thereby not effect anyone.

o Whether such a equitable defence can be said to be open to an infringer of copyright. Can a defendant, who is himself violating the right of the plaintiff, be permitted to say that though he is in violation but the plaintiff is not entitled to take action against him because the plaintiff is also in violation of some other law or has asserted a right beyond what he is entitled to. In my opinion, no.

o Even otherwise, it is the settled position in law that where there is conflict between law and equity, the law would prevail.

o The words of the statute i.e. the Copyright Act being clear and unambiguous, it is a duty of the Courts to give effect to them and not to allow the statute to be rendered of no effect by introducing what may appear to be equitable considerations but which in the long run are more likely to lead to inequities and litigation.

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