Indian Court Decides That Using ‘Plex’ in the Name of a Streaming Service Is Legal

By Bill Toulas / October 6, 2020

The High Court in Bombay has denied Plex an early injunction against‘Zee Plex,’ a media streaming platform that launched in the Indian market only a couple of days ago. The name’s similarity is what had the American company object the launch, as the branding is trademarked and meant to protect them against unfair use by competing services. However, the court didn’t see any trademark abuse signs, even though there’s an undeniable similarity in the naming.

Plex has a notable presence in the Indian market, with 550,000 registered users, many of whom are paying subscribers. The American streaming firm has been available in India since the summer of 2008, so they are an established player in the local market. Still, the court hasn’t accepted the existence of a prominent reputation, citing that yearly Plex sales in India range between $24,000 and $30,000, so the platform’s size isn’t guaranteeing its motive. Additionally, the judge pointed out that Plex has not obtained a valid trademark registration in India yet.

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The element that decided the ruling, though, was the fact that ‘Zee Plex’ is fundamentally different than the Plex media server. The new platform is meant to offer “cinema-to-home pay-per-view movie services,” so it isn’t attempting to compete with Plex, steal its userbase, or benefit from mimicking it in any way. Zee Plex also pointed out that their branding is actually “ZEEPLEX,” so it’s one word, not two, so it’s not relevant to Plex.

Judges are human, and frustration is always a part of case reviews. According to the reports, the Bombay judge was irritated by the Plex demands and how the American firm expected the court to quickly deal with that dispute, prioritizing it against other, more important cases.

As the judge stated:

I have said this before — that parties in IP matters cannot expect Courts to push aside all other cases. This happens repeatedly, whether it is movie releases or otherwise. It must stop. It is unfair to courts and it is unfair to other litigants waiting their turn. Where a plaintiff has had enough notice and yet chooses to move at the eleventh hour — and makes no allowance at all for any adjustment that may be required — the plaintiff must be prepared to face the consequences.

As for the final justification of the rejection, the court said that approving an early injunction would just cause ‘Zee Entertainment’ immediate and also immense financial losses. For a platform that hasn’t even launched yet, that was deemed unacceptable. Of course, this is only the beginning of a long legal fight, but Plex has lost its first battle, and the judge’s remarks left a dent.

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