The Delhi High Court has refused to stay ‘Legends League Cricket‘ on a lawsuit by a person who claimed to have conceptualised having a tournament with retired legendary players, saying said that no one can claim copyright over the game of cricket which has several permutations and combinations of “innings” and “overs”. Justice Asha Menon said that plaintiff Samir Kasal — who contended that the defendants i.e. organisers of ‘Legends League Cricket’ misappropriated his idea– failed to make out a prima facie case for grant of any interim relief and that none of the features of his concept reflected original thought.
The plaintiff’s ideas have been in the public domain for long and “none can claim an exclusive right to any of these ideas”, the judge added.
The first edition of ‘Legends League Cricket’ began on January 20 in Oman.
Justice Menon further said that the format of ‘Legends League Cricket’ was “significantly different” from that of the plaintiff and the defendant organisers were not copying any idea or concept of the plaintiff.
The cricketers cannot be injuncted from playing for the defendants or any other organizer, as the plaintiff can claim no such exclusive right, she stated.
To protect the interest of the plaintiff, the judge nonetheless directed defendant organisers to “maintain clear accounts of their earnings and expenditure in respect of the match/matches that are being organized at Oman (UAE) and file the same in court within one month of the conclusion of the league matches”.
The court issued summons to the organisers on the lawsuit by Kansal and said if an order of stay is passed at this stage, loss to the defendants, the players, the sponsors, the media partners and the public at large cannot be compensated.
“To say that because the plaintiff conceptualized a league match with retired cricketers in a ‘T-10 Test Format’ to be played at venues where there is Indian diaspora, and that being his idea, had become his exclusive right, is to stretch it too far to claim a right to seek an injunction against the ‘Legends League Cricket’ tournament organized by the defendants,” said the court in its order on January 19.
“In this case, the fundamental similarity will be the ‘game of cricket’ and no one can claim a copyright to the ‘game of cricket’. Several permutations and combinations in the format of playing the ‘game of cricket’ have been evolved over a period of centuries. Therefore, it is reasonable that there can also be no copyright in the evolution of cricket over a period of time, from a ‘5-Day Test Match Series’, to the latest of ‘T-20 Matches/One-Dayers’. Any such permutations and combinations would involve “innings” and “overs”,” it added.
The plaintiff, represented by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi and advocate Srivats Kaushal, argued before the court that he was a well-known person in the sports industry and had worked with the defendant organisers on holding a limited-over cricket tournament with two teams namely, “Asia XI” and “World XI” made up of world cricket legends who have since retired.
The plaintiff submitted that while no tournament, as conceptualised by him, could be held in 2020 and 2021 on account of the pandemic, he subsequently learnt through media reports that the defendants were organizing a tournament similar to his, under the name “Legends League Cricket”.
In its order, the court observed that there was no document to reflect that there was a “firmed-up contract” entailing mutual obligations between the plaintiff and defendants and that claim of “confidentiality” against the defendants, as asserted by the plaintiff, cannot be permitted to continue indefinitely.
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