Chinese smartphone vendor, OnePlus, is generally not known to splurge on advertising, but its latest big-budget TV spot in India is now in trouble for allegedly infringing upon the intellectual property rights of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN). According to reports in the country’s national media, the Delhi High Court has restrained the Chinese company from airing the contentious ad following a case filed by the Japanese company. The ad in question features veteran Indian actor and ‘70s superstar Mr. Amitabh Bachhan, and claims that the OnePlus 3T is the highest-rated premium smartphone in India ahead of the iPhone 7 Plus, the Galaxy S7 Edge and the Google Pixel. According to Sony, the ad mimics one of its popular television game shows that was originally hosted by Mr. Bachhan himself at the turn of the century.
The game show in question happens to be the now-discontinued ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (often abbreviated to KBC), which is the Indian version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ that was originally aired in the U.K in the late ’90s and has since been licensed to dozens of countries around the world including India, where it aired from 2000 to 2014. The contentious advertisement shows Mr. Bachchan reprising his role as the host of the popular game show, and also features YouTube star Rohan Joshi as a contestant. The campaign went on air last month, and has been seen on several major cable networks in the country over the past few weeks. Sony Pictures Networks, which holds the rights to the game show in India, has claimed that OnePlus’ use of the format is a breach of its intellectual property.
SPN also says that it was forced to go to court as its cease-and-desist notice failed to get a response from the defendant. The order, passed by the single-bench court of Justice R.K. Gauba, bars “the defendant, its partners and affiliates” from broadcasting “the impugned advertisement, titled ‘Best Smartphone Contest’ promoting (the) sale of OnePlus 3T on any channel or on print or any other media”. It will be interesting to see how OnePlus will react to this setback, given that the company must have spent a fortune roping in Mr. Bachhan to endorse its smartphone. The company has already issued a statement saying that it “takes intellectual property very seriously”, but is “unable to discuss any ongoing legal matters” as per company policy. The allegedly infringing ad can be seen in the YouTube video below.