Bombay High Court In A Landmark Decision Restrains Review Video By YouTuber And Emphasizes On Responsible Use Of The Power Of Social Media

Author:Mr Nishad Nadkarni and Khushboo Jhunjhunwala
Profession:Khaitan & Co
 
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In Marico Limited v Abhijeet Bhansali (Notice of Motion No 1094 of 2019 in COMIP No. 596 of 2019), the Bombay High Court (Court) has passed a landmark order directing removal of a Youtube "review" video titled "Is Parachute Coconut Oil 100% Pure?" by a social media influencer/v-blogger Abhijeet Bhansali (Defendant) under the alias "Bearded Chokra" regarding Marico's Parachute coconut oil.

Background

In February 2019, Marico Limited (Plaintiff) filed a suit along with a motion seeking interim reliefs against the Defendant who had created and posted a video about the Plaintiff's Parachute Coconut Oil on his Youtube Channel on the grounds that the content of the video was disparaging, denigrating and misleading in nature and also made unauthorized use of the Plaintiff's registered trademarks.

The Plaintiff had initially issued a cease and desist notice to the Defendant recording its objections to the content of the video and calling upon him to take down the video. The Defendant offered to delete certain portions of the video, justified some portions and, also made an offer to amend the video subject to certain conditions that were not acceptable to the Plaintiff. Accordingly, the suit was filed on the grounds that the said video was fraught with reckless, false and disparaging statements targeted against the Plaintiff's popular Parachute coconut oil and the grounds that the Defendant had sought to provide incorrect, unsubstantiated and misleading information to the viewers with a view to influence them into believing that the Plaintiff's product was of an inferior quality and/or inferior to other oils. The Plaintiff contended that the video was published by the Defendant in the course of his trade and occupation as a youtuber/blogger, the manner, intent and storyline of the video was meant to disparage the product of the Plaintiff and had caused special damage to the Plaintiff and constituted the tort of slander of goods and disparagement. Furthermore, the Defendant also promoted rival/competitive products in his video. He sought to attract viewers by using the goodwill and reputation of the Plaintiff's product and made monetary gains by diverting his viewer traffic to online retail sites for purchase of various other rival products (which purchases would entitle the Defendant to a commission) as well as by seeking monetary donations/sponsors for his channel.

The Defendant contended that the said video constituted his bonafide opinion, inter...

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