The 17th Raj Anand Moot Court Competition
The Problem - 2007

Producer A engaged a team of students to research possible parameters that could have defined the success of 50 pre-determined blockbusters, selected by the Producer, out of a collection of several hundred blockbusters. The parameters that are to be examined include the lead and supporting actors, movie theme, music, lyrics, dialogues, time of release of film, extent of special effects used, technical finesse, characters displayed by the actors, backdrop of social conditions prevalent in the society, etc.

The team of students revisits the 50 blockbusters by examining the scenes by scene footage, interviews the Producers and Directors of the said films randomly, screens newspaper articles, reports and interviews and prior and post release notes and conduct a poll of few movie lovers across generations to create a list of such "success factors".

The research material is then submitted to Producer A, who exercises his discretion and identifies a few elements of relevance in modern day film making. Such elements are then regrouped and evolved the form of a "success formula" which is then applied for protection under the Patents Act. Based on the Success Formula evolved by Producer A, a protocol was developed having pre-defined steps with a dynamic database to arrive at the said success formula. The database stored all the parameters which during the research were considered as being relevant for determining the success of the blockbusters. Pursuant to having evolved the said protocol, Producer A by various permutations and combinations of the success parameters and with reasonable certainty was able to predict the possibility of success of a film.

The Producer additionally applies for a copyright in the said formula as an original artistic work by giving it the title "A success formula for film making" and the language of the work is indicated as "Bollywood Lingo".

The Producer then approaches a selection of lyrists and playback singers from past successful lyrists and playback singers and calls upon them to revisit and be inspired by the past hit songs, lyrics and themes of the success movies. He does brief them to adapt the lyrics and songs for the new production through use of modern day instruments and special effects.

A film plot is made and the Producer springs a casting coup in terms of handpicking the best actors from the past success and aligning them together for the first time in his new production.

The characters chosen are given the same screen names as were used in the past 50 movies although they have never appeared together in a plot.

For the purpose of the title of the film, the Producer adopts a name that emerges from an amalgamation of 3 hit titles and applies separately for a trademark registration for his new title.

The movie is made and released and based upon the success formula proves to be a hit. While promoting the movie, the actors advertise with reference to the characters of the past. When moviegoers see the movie and hear its songs and dialogues, nostalgic memories of the past are raised and the dialogues used appear to be the same although on a closer scrutiny are found to emanate from an effective use of thesaurus.

A suit for injunction is instituted against Producer A by a newly formed association of past Producers and claiming:

    (i) That the title of the movie constitutes an infringement of trademark rights;

    (ii) There is a violation of copyright as the essential theme and the arrangement of characters has been impersonated and there is substantial copying of a developed idea;

    (iii) The patent applied for protection by Producer A with variable claims is invalid on the ground of obviousness even though the patent has not yet been granted and no objection on the lack of obviousness has been raised by the Patent Office.

    The filing of the suit causes a dip in box office collections and increase in the re-screening of past hits.

    (iv) The defendant files a counter suit against the plaintiff for defamation caused by negative publicity and contests the validity of trademark rights, copyright and the patent. Both parties also claim damages against each other citing their respective parameters for evolution of damages.