No one can claim any copyright on the game of cricket, nor can there be any copyright on the sport’s evolution from five-day test games to the recent format of T-20 cricket, the Delhi High Court noted when it refused to approve the organization of the upcoming Legends League Cricket Tournament [Samir Kasal v Prashant Mehta and Ors], Bar and Bench showed up.
However, sole judge Asha Menon instructed the tournament organizers to keep clear accounts of their income and expenses related to the games and submit them to the court within a month of the competition’s completion.
In addition, the court also subpoenaed the defendants, asking them to submit their written submissions within 30 days. The plaintiff was asked to file replications within 30 days of that date and the case will be referred to a joint registrar for further consideration on April 26.
The Legends League Cricket kicks off with three teams starting Thursday; Indian Maharajas, Asiatic Lions and World Giants participate in the tournament.
Former cricketers including Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, as well as Kevin Pieterson, Jacque Kallis and several others are slated to play in the competition to be staged at Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman.
The case was filed by Samir Kasal who claimed in his lawsuit that the competition was his idea and he had discussed it with the defendant, Prashant Mehta, who then started the tournament along with other defendants.
Kasal told the Delhi Supreme Court his idea was to have a league of former players in a two-innings format in which each team would hit ten overs in each innings.
He further argued that his idea was to host the games in places with huge Indian populations.
Hence, the Legends League Cricket to be held in Oman has been stolen from him, it has been alleged.
Justice Menon, noted, however, that the only fundamental similarity between the applicant’s idea and the tournament being hosted is that both play cricket and no one can claim the copyright to the sport.
“Various permutations and combinations in the form of cricket playing have been developed over the centuries. Therefore, it is reasonable that there can also be no copyright on the evolution of cricket over a period of time, from a 5-day test match series to the last of T-20 matches/one day matches. Such permutations and combinations would involve “innings” and “overs”. It would also involve the choice of location and the duration and length of the matches. Finally, the players always selected to play certain matches”, the court said.
Justice Menon further noted that the idea of a ten-over game is not new and was introduced in New Zealand in 1997, while former cricketers were playing cricket matches all over the world, and therefore that is not an original idea of the plaintiff either.
“There have also been trial matches in countries where cricket is not played. The participation of the Indian diaspora in various cricket venues, especially the Middle East, is also widely known. So none of the features of the Plaintiff’s concept reflect the original thought, ” the Court ruled.
It further said,
“League matches were held in 2015. IPL has been around since 2007. The matches in which retired legendary cricketers have played for various reasons including public goals have been going on for a long time. To say that because the plaintiff devised a competition match with retired cricketers in a T-10 test format to play in venues where there is Indian diaspora, and that his idea had become his exclusive right, it is going too far to claim the right to a injunction against the Legends League Cricket Tournament organized by the defendants.
The Court also ruled that even if the claimant’s claim that his combination is exclusive is upheld, there are sufficient differences to determine that the format followed in the tournament is not a copy of his idea.
Finally, the Court said that the purpose of organizing games is to gain financial advantage and that if the games are not played, the defendants, players, sponsors, media partners and the general public will suffer losses that cannot be compensated.
The claimant was represented by senior lawyer Sandeep Sethi along with advcoates Rashmi Chopra, Srivats Kaushal, Priyadeep, Humraz Singh, Tejaswini, Vatsala Chaturvedi appeared before the claimant.
While Senior Lawyers Rajiv Nayari and Saurabh Kirpal along with lawyers Vineet Malhotra, Vishal Gohri, Saurabh Seth, AK Bhardwaj, Shivanshu Bhardwaj, Karan Gautam and Shubhendu Kaushik appeared before.
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Published on: Thursday 20 January 2022, 16:12 IST