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T.S.J.Media Private Limited, Represented by its Director, Arun Natarajan v/s Boston Analytics Private Limited, Mumbai & Another

    C.S. No. 520 of 2008 & O.A. No. 587 of 2008

    Decided On, 03 September 2021

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE DR. JUSTICE G. JAYACHANDRAN

    For the Plaintiff: Sundar Narayan, R. Sunil Kumar, Advocates. For the Defendants: set exparte.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: This Suit is filed under Order IV Rule 1 of Original Side Rules read with Order VII Rule 1 of C.P.C and Sections 55, 57 and 62 of Copyright Act, 1957.

i). For a declaration that the Plaintiff is the absolute owner of the copyright in respect of the information stored in its database and accessible from its website at http://www.ventureintelligence.in.

(ii). For a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant, their servants, and agents from in any manner whatsoever infringing the copyright of the Plaintiff in respect of the information stored in the Plaintiff’s database and accessible from its website at http://www.ventureintelligence.in; by publishing or printing or storing or selling or distributing or marketing in any manner the information stored in its database and accessible from its website at http://www.ventureintelligence.in, in the present form.

(iii). For a mandatory injunction ordering and decreeing the Defendants to deliver to the Plaintiff for destruction and/or deletion all the existing copies of the information stored in the plaintiff’s database and accessible from its website at http://www.ventureintelligence.in and in the possession of the defendants.

(iv). Directing the Defendants to pay jointly or severally the Plaintiff damages quantified at Rs.25 lakhs and the Defendants be ordered or directed to render a true and faithful account of all the profits earned by the Defendants by selling and marketing the infringing copies in relation to the information stored in the Plaintiff’s database and accessible from its website at http://www.ventureintelligence.in to pay the Plaintiff such amounts as may be found payable on such accounts being taken.

(v). Ordering costs of the suit.)

(Heard through Video Conferencing)

1. This Suit is filed under the Copyright Act, 1957. The case of the plaintiff is that, it is leading provider of information and networking services to Private Equity and Venture Capitalists in India, through dedicated research of 10 employees, the plaintiff has created the database providing information on the investments made by Private Equity Investors and Venture Capitalists in India. The information on the database hosted by the plaintiff on its website is in a more secured format. The information is obtained by the customers of the plaintiff through website developed and maintained by the plaintiff. The plaintiff has vast client base.

2. The 1st defendant is a Private Limited Company which is engaged in providing fully customized knowledge services as well as flexible, preconfigured knowledge products and repositories through research and analysis.

3. In and around April-2008, the defendant produced a report nomenclatured as “The Private Equity Landscape in India”which appeared in a news report dated 10.04.2008 and in its website. On perusing the contents of the report and visiting the website hosted and maintained by the defendants, the plaintiff was shocked to find out that the defendants have lifted substantial portions of information stored in on and accessible on the plaintiff’s website http://www.ventureintelligence.in. On enquiry, the plaintiff came to understand that, the defendant after obtaining database accessibility of the plaintiff’s website under the guise of purchasing the information, had logged into the website of the plaintiff for more than 45 times from the IP address 59.93.247.82 between February 11 - 16, 2008. This happened when Mr.Harsh Baglaalso of the 1st defendant Company expressed his desire to subscribe to the package “Serial D”conceptualized by the plaintiff and using the 5 email ID’smentioned in his email as login. He and his employees had logged into the plaintiff’s database over 35 times masquerading as evaluation. But in effect, committed violation of copyright and lifted the information of the plaintiff. Thereafter, the defendant has systematically lifted the information from the plaintiff’s website with the intention of passing off the same as if, they are the informations collated by them and had presented the information in their website http://www.bostonanalytics.com.

4. After siphoning the data’s from the plaintiff’s website unauthorisedly, the defendant subscribed to the plaintiff’s database by paying via credit card on 15.04.2008. On seeing the Executive summary of the report hosted by the defendant in their website and press note, the plaintiff discontinued the defendant’s subscription and intimated the same to the defendant.

5. Despite notice, the defendant continued to pass off the data which are exclusively owned by the plaintiff. Hence, the present suit for declaration of title, permanent injunction restraining the defendant from infringing the plaintiff’s copyright and mandatory injunction to deliver the infringed materials for destruction and also damages of Rs.25 lakhs for unauthorised exploitation of the plaintiff’s copyright.

6. The suit is filed in the year 2008. The defendants were served with suit summons and they entered appearance through Counsel on 19.06.2008. Thereafter, the defendant did not show any interest in defending the suit. Written statement was not filed. Hence, the case was posted before Master under the caption “undefended board”as per Original Side Rules. Even thereafter, the defendant did not show any interest to participate in the litigation.

7. After the Commercial Courts Act came into force, being a suit arising under Copyrights Act, the jurisdiction of the dispute was determined as a Commercial Dispute under Section 2(1)(c)(xvii) of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 on 01.07.2021. Time to file written statement was extended till 23.07.2021. Since no written statement was filed, within the said date recording the statement made by the Learned Counsel for the defendant that she is unable to contact the defendant and the name of the defendant’s Company is removed from the register maintained by the Registrar of Companies, the defendant was called absent set exparte and posted the matter before Additional Master –IV for recording exparte evidence.

8. On behalf of the plaintiff, Mr.Arun Natarajan, Director and CEO of Plaintiff’s Company has filed proof affidavit in lieu of Chief examination. Nine Exhibits were marked on behalf of the plaintiff.

9. Heard the Learned Counsel for the plaintiff and Exhibits Ex.P.1 to Ex.P.9 perused.

10. From the documentary evidence, this Court finds that the plaintiff is a provider of information particularly in respect of Private Equity and Venture Capitalists. Engaged in research and collection of database, providing information on the investments made by Private Equity Investors. The information are hosted by the plaintiff on its website http://www.ventureintelligence.in and http://www.ventureintelligence.in.com. Any person intended to get data, can pay the requisite fees and subscribe to the plaintiff website. Thereby, they will have access to the database. However, before becoming a subscriber, anyone can login to the plaintiff’s website on trial basis. The defendant herein taking advantage of this facility, during the month of February had frequently logged in to the plaintiff’s website by making the plaintiff to believe that they need access to the website for evaluation. Under the guise of purchasing the information, the data from the plaintiff’s website has been harvested by the defendant and published Executive summary of the report “The Private Equity Landscape in India”in the defendant’s website http://www.bostonanalytics.com on 24.04.2008. Meanwhile, the defendant has also paid the subscription fees to the plaintiff and become a subscriber to the website. When the actof infringement committed by the defendant came to the notice of the plaintiff, the plaintiff has cancelled the subscription.

11. To prove the above facts, the oral evidence of P.W.1 and 9 documents are relied.

12. The email correspondence by the defendant to the plaintiff is marked as Ex.P.2. This e-mail indicates that on 22.02.2008, Mr. Harsh Baglaalso, had expressed his desire to evaluate the Private Equity Database maintained by the plaintiff and sought for activation of the login of five e-mails ID’s. In this e-mail, the defendant had made the plaintiff to believe that the products is in final stage of evaluation and before going ahead with subscription, they need to have access to the websites and therefore, requested to activate logins for the following five e-mail ID’s.

1. hbagla@bostonanalytics.com

2. gpodar@bostonanalytics.com

3. smulay@bostonanalytics.com

4. rdhingra@bostonanalytics.com

5. hreddy@bostonanalytics.com

13. Thereafter, no doubt, the defendant had subscribed to the plaintiff’s website, but had published the report on Private Equity Landscape in India dated 24.04.2008 with a small credit to the plaintiff. The said publication is marked as Ex.P.4. In this report, the defendant had acknowledged the plaintiff is the source for the data furnished. The defendant has subscribed to the plaintiff’s website on 15.04.2008. As per the terms and conditions for subscription/access, the subscriber acknowledge and agree that the content and materials available in TSJ Media’s Venture Intelligence, publications, websites are protected by copyrights, trademarks, servic

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e marks, patents, trade secrets or other proprietary rights and law and except as expressly authorized by TSJ Media (plaintiff). The defendant agreed not to sell, rents and license or otherwise transmit any plaintiff’s material or content. 14. Having agreed so, the act of the defendant publishing the report containing the data collected by the plaintiff’s prior to subscription and subsequent to subscription without leave or license clearly establishes the act of infringement of copyright. Therefore, this Court finds that the plaintiff has proved through documents referred above that the exclusive right of the plaintiff over the database found in the plaintiff’s website www.ventureintelligence.in has been harvested by the defendant unauthorisedly and had published it in their defendant’s website http://www.bostonanalytics.com without permission or license from the plaintiff’s. Hence, the plaintiff is entitled for the relief sought in the suit. Accordingly, the Suit is Allowed with costs. Consequently, connected Application is closed.
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