In an order dated April 26, 2023, in the case of Digital Collectibles Pte Ltd and Ors. vs. Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited and Anr. [CS(COMM) 108/2023], the Delhi High Court rejected the contentions of the plaintiffs and refused to issue an interim injunction against online gaming platforms Mobile Premier League (MPL) and Striker, preventing them from using cricket non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Remarking that NFT technology is freely available, the court held that an exclusive right to use such technology cannot be claimed.
The plaintiff no.1, Digital Collectibles Pte Ltd operates under “Rario” and provides a platform where users can trade in the Digital Player Cards of cricketers authenticated with NFT technology. In February of this year, a suit was filed before the Delhi High Court against the defendants who carry on business under “Mobile Premier League” and “Striker”, respectively.
It was asserted that plaintiff no.1 was authorized to exclusively use the names and photographs of players through license agreements, and by letting users trade in the players’ Digital Player Cards with NFTs on the Striker platform, the defendants infringe upon the players’ right to publicity.
After hearing the parties, the court held that one could make use of names and images of celebrities for the “purposes of lampooning, satire, parodies, art, scholarship, music, academics, news and other similar uses” as the same is covered under the right to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and does not constitute an infringement of the right to publicity. Considering the principles of balance of convenience and irreparable harm, the court expressed that if an injunction was issued, the defendants’ business would be adversely affected. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ plea for injunction was dismissed, and the matter was listed for July 10, 2023.