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Copyright Infringement in Fantasy Games Leagues Mobile App

This Article delves into a recent legal case pending before Hon'ble Justice Ms. Jyoti Singh, Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, in which a plaintiff filed a suit against the defendant, alleging copyright infringement regarding a Fantasy Sports Mobile App. The lawsuit revolves around the introduction of a new feature by the defendant in their MYFAB11 app and the alleged copying of the plaintiff's concept, working, features, and execution. This article provides an analytical assessment of the case, examining the core arguments presented by both parties and the court's observations.

The Plaintiff's Allegations:
The plaintiff, in this case, claimed that they had developed a unique Fantasy Sports Mobile App, registered under the Copyright Act, 1957, as a literary and dramatic work. The app differentiated itself from conventional Fantasy Games Leagues. The subject matter suit was filed to prevent the defendant from making the plaintiff's copyrighted work available for download through their MYFAB11 app, or any similar app using the same application or computer program, thereby allegedly infringing the plaintiff's copyrighted works. The defendant had introduced a new feature, 'STOCKS,' in their Fantasy Sports League Mobile App MYFAB11, which the plaintiff asserted not only copied the concept but also its working, features, and execution of the plaintiff's buy/sell interface.

The Defendant's Defense:
The defendants contested the plaintiff's claims by arguing that the plaintiff had concealed the fact that they were not the first to combine the features of Fantasy Sports Leagues with the stock market. They pointed out the existence of numerous third-party applications with similar concepts. The defendant further contended that the plaintiff's assertion of copyright infringement in the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of their app was misconceived, as no copyright was claimed in any artistic work.

Court's Observations:
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, while refusing to grant interim injunction relief, made several critical observations. The court noted that although the plaintiff claimed to have introduced the unique idea of integrating Fantasy Sports Leagues with the stock market in 2010, no material evidence was provided to substantiate this claim. The absence of concrete evidence raised questions about the originality and uniqueness of the plaintiff's concept.

The Court's Analysis:
The central question addressed by the court was whether the plaintiff had merely adopted a pre-existing idea or reproduced it in a different form, tone, or tenor to give it a new expression and infuse new life into the concept. In examining the plaintiff's mobile app, the court found that the plaintiff had failed to meet the burden of proof. The court's decision rested on the principle that copyright protection is not granted to ideas but to the expression of those ideas.

The Concluding Note:
This case highlights the importance of concrete evidence and a strong legal basis in copyright infringement suits, particularly in the dynamic world of mobile applications. It underscores the need for plaintiffs to provide substantial proof of originality and uniqueness when claiming copyright infringement in the face of similar concepts.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Hulm Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Vs Fantasy Sports MYFAB11 Pvt. Ltd.
Date of Judgement/Order:17/10/2023
Case No. CS(COMM) 244/2022
Neutral Citation No: 2023:DHC:7593
Name of Hon'ble Court: High Court of Delhi
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Jyoti Singh, H.J.

Information and discussion contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for expert advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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