Kundra’s strong response to BCCI over ‘IPL’ naming rights

Raj Kundra’s lawyers have maintained that the BCCI cannot restrain Indian Poker League from using initials IPL.

A dispute has arisen between Raj Kundra, the Indian Poker League owner and a former co-owner of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India over the intellectual property rights of letters IPL – being used as acronyms for both Indian Poker League and the Indian Premier League.

BCCI in a legal notice had advised Kundra to not to use term ‘IPL’ as ‘Match IPL’ for the Match Indian Poker League.

Kundra’s lawyers have maintained that the BCCI did not have any proprietary right over letters ‘I’, ‘P’ and ‘L’ or the term ‘IPL’. The strongly worded response also states that the “use of term ‘IPL’ in conjunction with the terms “MATCH” and “INDIAN POKER LEAGUE” is inherently distinctive and is verily allowed under law.”

The BCCI through its counsel Roshan Gopalakrishna as the Indian Premier League owners had served a notice on Kundra, Chairman & Managing Director, Viaan Industries Limited, and International Poker Federation President Patrick Nally.

The notice had advised Nally and Viaan Industries to refrain from using “any unlicensed commercial use of the ‘IPL’ name for Match Indian Poker League.”

Para three of the three page notice stated: “The BCCI has recently been made aware and thereby shocked to learn, of the International Federation of Poker’ (“IFP”) and Viaan Industries Limited’s (“Viaan”) blatantly unlicensed and illegal use of the ‘IPL’ proprietary name to promote the Match Indian Poker League (“Poker League”) on various platforms.”

Counsel Gopalakrishna from Copyright Integrity Advisory Private Limited, representing BCCI had further stated that the “IPL name is protected wordmark that is owned by the BCCI. Therefore, any unlicensed commercial use the ‘IPL’ name, whether on a standalone basis or in combination with other words, such as in the case of ‘Match IPL’ constitute an infringement of BCCI’s rights.”

Advocate Subhash Bhutoria had strongly refuted BCCI’s claims. “The use of term “IPL” in conjunction with the terms “MATCH” and “INDIAN POKER LEAGUE” is inherently distinctive and is verily allowed under law. More so, with the artistic elements, colour combination et al., the label mark is even more distinctive and is easily distinguishable,” the strongly-worded notice states.

“We believe that your client’s (BCCI’s) claim on ‘IPL’ as a word mark is an unfair and fraudulent attempt to harass honest use of the said term by our clients and hence our clients reserve the rights to initiate legal action against your client’s such illegal and unfair conduct,” Bhutoria had mentioned in the reply served to the BCCI through Gopalakrishna.

“It is well established principle that a mark shall be considered as a whole for the purpose of comparison, which leaves no doubt that our client’s mark is completely different and dissimilar from each and every mark of your client. Evidently, there is no phonetic or visual similarity, which can lead to any confusion, whatsoever, which is, as a matter of fact, not even alleged by your clients in the letter,” Bhutoria has maintained in his reply.

The response further warns the BCCI that it must withdraw its “unfair and illegitimate” notice.

Insidesport.co is in possession of the BCCI’s notice and the response submitted by Kundra’s lawyers.