Business is always considered to be heart of any civilized society. The earning of people is dependent on such businesses. The Law and its wing develop according to the changing times. Nowadays various types of business have emerged in the society and to provide security for such business, law needs to be upgraded. In order to upgrade the task of providing security to the business entities, Intellectual Property Law came up as a weapon to provide protection to the traders and the business entities. The Intellectual property, (IP) is an intangible form of property which is today considered to be very important in all the aspects. The definition of Intellectual Property has widened its scope with the development of International Trade and globalized economy. The Intellectual Property provided a dominant commercial asset with the help of advanced digital technologies. Copyright, Trademarks and Patents are majorly considered as an Intellectual Property of any Trade, business. Each of these has their own significance and role in the business development. The issues such as theft of Intellectual Property and other types of infringement have increased with such development.
The courts in India are always keen to adopt the concept developed by English laws and foreign laws. This led to the introduction of the concept of Anton Pillar Orders in India based on the case of ‘Anton Pillar’, which permits the plaintiff to enter the premises of the infringer and seize evidences of infringement, prior to the institution of an action. This Anton Pillar order is a form of discovery preservation granted on an ex-parte application to prevent the rights Intellectual Property of an entity. Now, as the topic for the discussion is “John Doe” order, let us have a quick look how the word “John Doe” came into existence.
The name “John Doe” is used for the unknown/nameless defendants/infringers, who have allegedly committed some wrong, but whose identity is unknown to the plaintiff. To avoid delay and to provide fast remedy of the matter with justice, the court names the defendant as, ‘John Doe’, until the original name of the defendant is known to the court. The orders passed by court in such cases are thus popularly known as, “John Doe orders”.
The Courts in India also have such traces of “John Doe/Jane Doe” orders under Civil Procedure Code 1908, generally known as, “Ashok Kumar” (ESPN Software India Private Ltd. vs. Tudu Enterprise and others) orders to protect the rights of the plaintiff and prevent them from irreparable damages under order 39 Rules 1 & 2. In India statutes including Trademarks Act, 1999 and Geographical Indication of Goods Act, 1999 also provides for such interim orders. Though such provisions are included in the statutes there are always probability of infringement before approaching to the courts on time, and by the time interim orders are granted enough damage has already been caused.
In many cases the courts have adopted this rule and provided the remedy to the plaintiff for example:
In Taj Television v. Rajan Mandal and Ors, the court ordered to cease license and their equipments, because, the defendants were telecasting the FIFA World Cup 2002 without prior permission and court further ordered to stop the telecast. As the identity of the operators was unknown the court ordered ‘John Doe’ order to prevent unlicensed telecast of FIFA World Cup.
The Delhi High Court in Reliance Pictures v/s ‘John Doe’s I.A. No. 13476/2011 known as “Bodyguard” Movie Case ordered to the unknown defendants to stop and avoid piracy, copying, uploading, downloading of the movies by any means. This order was entertained just to prevent the rights of the movie and vigilant IP owner, as all type of infringement provides huge loss to the film industry. The similar view point was again taken in the matter of ‘Don- 2’ film.
In Kuldip Singh v. Subhash Chander Jain the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that, the scope of this action is to apprehend wrong or anticipate mischief. It is the type of precautionary justice which has to be initiated before the mischief is done.
This order is a tool to protect piracy of the movies, books and other Intellectual properties. The development of this order is making the IP Owner more vigilant and powerful. In this way John Doe order is becoming a known process in India.