The case of Godfrey Phillips India Ltd. v. Dharampal Satyapal Ltd. and
involves a dispute over copyright infringement, passing off, unfair
competition, and dilution. The plaintiff, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd., filed an
application for a permanent injunction against the defendants, alleging that
they had infringed upon their copyright and engaged in unfair competition by
using a similar slogan in their advertising campaign. The case raises the
question of whether slogans or phrases are copyrightable under the Copyright
- Whether slogans or phrases are copyrightable under the Copyright Act,
- Whether the defendants' slogan and campaign amount to infringement of
the plaintiff's copyright?
- Whether there is a likelihood of confusion or deception among consumers
due to the similarity between the slogans?
- Whether the defendants' actions constitute passing off and unfair
- Whether the plaintiff is entitled to a permanent injunction and other
- Copyright Act, 1957:
The Act provides protection for literary and artistic works, including
literary works such as slogans. However, for a work to be eligible for
copyright protection, it must qualify as an "artistic/literary work" under
In order to establish copyright infringement, the plaintiff must demonstrate
that the defendants have copied a substantial part of the plaintiff's work.
- Passing Off:
Passing off occurs when the defendant misrepresents their goods or services
as those of the plaintiff, leading to a likelihood of confusion among
- Unfair Competition:
Unfair competition involves any unfair or deceptive practices that give one
party an advantage over its competitors.
Dilution refers to the unauthorized use of a well-known mark or slogan that
diminishes its distinctive character or tarnishes its reputation.
The court examined whether slogans or phrases are copyrightable under the
Copyright Act. It held that the slogan "Shauq Badi Cheez Hai" did not qualify as
an artistic or literary work since it was a combination of common words and
lacked originality or skill. The court further noted that both the plaintiff's
and defendant's slogans were commonly spoken in Hindi language in day-to-day
life, making them non-copyrightable.
The court analyzed the similarity between the slogans and concluded that the
defendants had not adopted the plaintiff's slogan as it is. The slogans "Shauq
Badi Cheez Hai" and "Swad Badi Cheez Hai" conveyed different meanings, reducing
the chances of confusion among consumers, including those in remote areas. The
court observed that the difference in meaning between the two slogans was
well-known to everyone.
Additionally, the court examined the advertisements and found that the
defendants had not copied the plaintiff's advertisement or its idea or theme.
The products were also distinctly named, and there was no likelihood of
confusion in the minds of consumers. The court concluded that there was no
chance of confusion or deception caused by the slogans, and the plaintiff failed
to establish a prima facie case of the defendants adopting their slogan to ride
on the plaintiff's reputation and goodwill.
This case provides valuable insights into the copyrightability of slogans or
phrases under the Copyright Act. It clarifies that slogans consisting of common
words or phrases may not be considered artistic or literary works deserving
copyright protection. The judgment emphasizes the importance of demonstrating
substantial similarity and likelihood of confusion to establish copyright
infringement. It also highlights the need for clear differentiation and
distinctiveness in advertising campaigns to avoid confusion among consumers.
In conclusion, the court dismissed the plaintiff's application for a permanent
injunction. It held that slogans or phrases, such as "Shauq Badi Cheez Hai,"
were not copyrightable under the Copyright Act, as they did not qualify as
artistic or literary works. The court found that the defendants' slogan, "Swad
Badi Cheez Hai Swad Se Badhkar Kuch Nahi Tulsi Saada Pan Masala," was different
from the plaintiff's slogan and did not amount to copyright infringement. The
court also determined that there was no likelihood of confusion or deception
among consumers due to the differences in meaning and overall presentation of
Furthermore, the court did not find evidence of passing off or unfair
competition on the part of the defendants. It noted that the products were
distinctly named and there was no intent on the defendants' part to misrepresent
their goods as those of the plaintiff. As a result, the court concluded that the
plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for the grant of a permanent
injunction and other reliefs sought.
Therefore, the plaintiff's application was dismissed, and the defendants were
not restrained from using their slogan or engaging in their advertising