On October 5, 2018 debutante century scorer, Prithvi Shaw received appreciation across the country for his innings against West Indies which led to the Indian Cricket Team winning the test by an innings. Various brands, including FreeCharge and Swiggy, used the youngster’s name to run a marketing campaign that had reference to his performance. Swiggy had tweeted: “Firsts we’ll remember forever: First bite of Rasmalai, First innings of Prithvi Shaw.”
Shaw’s management company Baseline Ventures has sent cease and desist notices against these companies for using Shaw’s name without their permission. The company has sought for a compensation of Rs. 1 crore each for the unauthorised use of Shaw’s name and fame on the grounds of ambush marketing and infringement of trademark rights of Baseline. The company stated that it will also go after other brands who have used the cricketer’s name without permission. Swiggy has removed their tweet since.
- Baseline Ventures stated “All are free to congratulate a player on his achievement. By seeking commercial gains in the guise of paying a tribute to an achiever, you are denying the player of his legitimate commercial rights.” This statement is their basis for claiming ambush marketing, which is interpreted as when a corporation tries to bank on an event or a person to further their own commercial gains. India does not have a dedicated law on ambush marketing and hence Trade Marks Act, 1999, the Copyright Act, 195 and, the common law notion of passing off are the only resorts available in such a case.
- Ambush marketing is generally associated with events and not people. If a celebrity’s name is used without authorisation, the personality rights of that celebrity are said to be infringed. It is to be seen if the legal notice results in a litigation and if yes, how will the concept of ambush marketing be defined by the litigants and the court.
- Many brands, most notably Amul, have been drawing reference to current events as a marketing strategy for years now. The question now is whether such use can be called an honest use of a celebrity’s image or Baseline’s argument of commercial gains sustains.