Advertising agency Rediffusion has alleged broadcast network Star Sports used its intellectual property (IP) without permission for its Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) commercial featuring actor Tiger Shroff.
Rediffusion claims it presented multiple concepts to Disney Star in August 2023, including two for games based on the Mahabharata that were particularly well-received by the Disney Star team. The client did not communicate it was working on a similar idea with its creative partner and in an email dated September 5, 2023, Disney Star commented on both the Mahabharata ideas, saying, “a mythological bend is interesting” and “Let’s park this for now due to development and promotion dependency.”
“We are deeply concerned that our concept has been used without our knowledge or consent, and without any credit or compensation,” said Kalyani Srivastava, Joint President of Rediffusion. “We believe that this constitutes IP infringement and we have requested the client to immediately halt the airing of the commercial until this matter is resolved.”
Star Sports, on its part, has denied the allegations. “Star Sports denies all assertions made by the ad agency Rediffusion. Pro Kabaddi League Season 10 ad featuring Tiger Shroff is a concept developed by the ad agency Wunderman Thompson on Star Sports’ instructions. Star Sports reached out to multiple ad agencies, to potentially assist with different facets of its overall integrated marketing plan for PKL,” the network said in a statement.
It added that while the scope of Wunderman Thompson was to create the campaign for PKL including TVC, the scope of Rediffusion was to come up with digital ideas to amplify the campaign on social media platforms.
“On August 22, 2023, Rediffusion was approached by Star Sports for digital ideas specifically for the amplification of the PKL campaign on social media platforms. Rediffusion for the first time shared its concept note with Star Sports on September 1, 2023, and Star Sports provided its feedback on September 5, 2023, by which time (August 28), the concept developed by WT which included various looks for the celebrities, potential music, and concept, that culminated into the final campaign promo had already been finalised,” the network statement said.
Rediffusion’s Srivastava said, “Star Sports specifically noted in their email dated September 5, 2023, that there were certain ideas that were already in progress at their end, but there was no mention of the Mahabharata idea. In fact, the comment by the Disney Star team that ‘a mythological bend is interesting’ clearly indicates that there was no previous work in progress or current discussion with the Disney Star’s advertising partner.”
“We were more than willing to amicably settle the issue, but Disney Star has been trying to dodge any constructive discussion to resolve matters. They have acknowledged in writing that Rediffusion presented the Mahabharata ideas for PKL but keep obfuscating the issue with non-specific claims thereafter on it being generic,” said Carol Goyal, Executive Director & Head Legal, Rediffusion Group.
Rediffusion is calling for the immediate stoppage of the airing of the commercial and is considering taking legal action against Star Sports.
“Any claim by Rediffusion on infringement of their IP rights is baseless and without merit. Star Sports has documents for all the above and a claim by Rediffusion to the contrary is incorrect. The question of attributing any credit to Rediffusion does not arise, since Star Sports did not use their concept,” said Star Sports.
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