Vol.17 Issue 2 (2021)

India's Take on Legal Remedy of Passing Off: A Celebrity's Perspective

Niharika Salar & Sonal Sinha

The development of mass media led to the development of intrigue and curiosity around celebrities and their persona, and the profits hidden therein. Harping upon this intrigue, stakeholders realised the brand power behind celebrity personalities. However, problems arose when there was an increase in the unauthorised exploitation of celebrity personalities. While on the legal front, several remedies are resorted to, William Prosser narrowed down these into four, i.e., intrusion into one’s private space, disclosure of one’s personal and private facts, disclosure of incorrect facts that puts one under a false light and misappropriating one’s personality for commercial gain. Hinged on the brand value of a celebrity’s personality, the right to publicity emphasises the right of a celebrity to claim control over the commercial value of their identity. Remedy against the unauthorised commercial exploitation of a celebrity’s identity is commonly found in the tort of passing off. The article assesses the contours of the remedy of passing off as availed by celebrities and implemented by the Indian Courts. The article also draws a comparison with the approaches employed by American and English law in their understanding of celebrity personality, contrasting the same with the Indian approach.

Author

Ms Niharika Salar is an Assistant Professor of Law at National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) Hyderabad. She holds an L.L.M(Hons.) from National University of Singapore. Sonal Sinha is a Trademarks and Copyrights Associate at Obhan & Associates, New Delhi. She is a B.A. LL.B. graduate from Symbiosis Law School, Noida.