Mumbai : Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor is ready to take strict legal action against Tamil star Surya for what in legal terms is called “passing off “. In simple terms, trying to launch a film with a title or look for which someone else has the licence or trademark.
A few months ago, the Tamil star announced his new film, which he said would be called ’24’ — a film he would star in and also produce. The look and logo of the title was very similar to the popular American TV series 24, for which Kapoor had bought the remake rights for from 20th Century Fox International TV a few years ago. Last year, Kapoor adapted and aired season one of the action drama in Hindi on Colors.
In fact, Kapoor holds the rights to remake 24, in Hindi for India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. “As we are from the same fraternity, I spoke to Surya, before I take (any) strict legal action — as in send the notice. He said he would speak to his team and get back to me. What got me to take this step was the way the title of his film ’24’ looked and the logo which is very similar to our TV series, which has done one very successful season on Colors. It is something I thought I should protect as much as I can,” Kapoor siad.
Naik Naik & Company that represents the Kapoor have the notice ready and has also contacted 20th Century Fox International TV that holds the original trademark, to file for infringement as well as passing off. On their part, Fox said it will consult its legal team.
“Producers have become more vigilant in protecting their titles and enforcing their rights and in several cases. Matters have been resolved at the notice stage without intervention of courts. With the mammoth success of the first season of ’24’ in India and the second season being under production, Anil Kapoor is very determined to seek protection of the title ’24’ in India by initiating legal action against the producers of the South Indian film under the title ’24’,” said Ameet Naik of Naik Naik & Company.
In fact, the law firm has won a case before where they represented the Millennium Group which held the title ‘Rambo Rajkumar’ and Eros was sent a notice and the production house had to change their film title to ‘R… Rajkumar’.
The US series adaptation was a big acquisition for the General Entertainment Channel (GEC) Colors, which is said to have paid Kapoor.`150 crore for the rights. The first season of ’24’ did not get the ratings but got a lot of critical acclaim and was hailed as opening up of a new genre. With rights for Pakistan as well, Colors in fact, made money selling the first season to GEO TV for a supposed Rs 1 crore while releasing it across Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Sponsor revenues were also hiked as title sponsor Tata Motors is said to have paid about .`18 crore for the show.
The first season boasted of a stellar cast like Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher, Mandira Bedi and Tisca Chopra, among others, led by director Abhinay Deo and a writing team led by Rensil D’Silva.
Kapoor holds the rights of the 192 episodes for a period of four years extendable to another 10, in what his lawyers says is definitely one of the highest licencee deals for a fiction format show on Indian TV.