Personality Rights

Context- Delhi High Court has restrained the misuse of the name, image, voice and other
attributes of the persona of actor Anil Kapoor for commercial gain.
What are Personality Rights?

  • Personality rights refer to the right of a person to protect his/her personality under the
    right to privacy or property.
  • These rights are important to celebrities as their names, photographs or even voices can
    easily be misused in various advertisements by different companies to boost their sales.
  • Many celebrities even register some aspects as a trademark to use them commercially.
  • For example, Usain Bolt’s “bolting” or lightning pose is a registered trademark.
    Reasons for Providing These Rights
  • The idea is that only the owner of these distinct features has the right to derive any
    commercial benefit from it.
  • Exclusivity is a big factor in attracting commercial dividends for celebrities.
  • Personality rights are not expressly mentioned in a Laws in India but fall under the right
    to privacy and the right to property.
    Are Personality Rights Different from Publicity Rights?
    Personality rights consists of two types of rights
  • Firstly, the Right of Publicity, or the right to keep one’s image and likeness from being
    commercially exploited without permission or contractual compensation, which is
    similar (but not identical) to the use of a trademark;
  • Secondly, the Right to Privacy or the right not to have one’s personality represented
    publicly without permission.
  • Publicity rights fall into the realm of the ‘tort of passing off’, when someone
    intentionally or unintentionally passes off their goods or services to another party. This

    type of misrepresentation damages the goodwill of a person or business, resulting in
    financial or reputational damage.
  • Publicity rights are governed by statutes like the Trade marks Act 1999 and the
    Copyright Act 1957.
    About Anil Kapoor’s Case
  • In the case of Anil Kapoor, the Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte, omnibus injunction
    restraining 16 entities from using Kapoor’s name, likeness, and image.
  1. An ex-parte injunction is when relief is granted to a party without hearing the other
  2. An omnibus injunction is an injunction granted against any unauthorized use- even
    those that are not mentioned in the plea.
    Criteria for Granting Injunction
  • In the Titan case, the HC in its order listed out the “basic elements comprising the
    liability for infringement of the right of publicity.”
  • Validity of the Right: The plaintiff owns an enforceable right in the identity or persona of
    a human being.
  • Easy to Identify in the alleged misuse: The defendant’s unauthorized use must make the
    celebrity identifiable easily.
  • Celebrity is identifiable: The unaided identification should be enough if the celebrity is
    well-known. Otherwise, the plaintiff will have to bring evidence that adds up at a
    geometric rate to associate with the plaintiff