(By You Yunting) We have already introduced litigation injunctions regarding patent, trademark and trade-secret proceedings in our previous posts. Today we would like to introduce a copyright injunction that Haidian District Lower People’s Court issued a copyright litigation injunction to prevent Funshion.com from copyright infringement of I Am a Singer (a popular Talent Show in China).
Introduction to the Case:
Court:Haidian District Lower People’s Court
Letv.com claimed that it had the exclusive right of broadcast and accompanying protection rights to the talent show “I am a Singer” (the “Talent Show”) and that Funshion.com re-broadcasted the complete content of the Talent Show without authorization on both its website and mobile ecosystem.
On January 2014, Letv.com sent a lawyer letter to Funshion.com requesting the company cease infringement and pressing a claim for compensation；however, this was ignored by Funshion.com. Subsequently, Letv.com applied to the court for an order that the defendant cease infringement and compensate the plaintiff RMB 1 million. In these litigation proceedings, Letv.com applied for an injunction, alleging that as the talent show cost significant copyright payments, that if the defendant was not promptly stopped from committing such an infringement, it would lead to huge damages for the plaintiff. As such, Letv.com requested that the court issue an injunction ruling and order Funshion.com to cease infringement on both its website and mobile ecosystem.
The court interviewed the two parties and added “Hunan Happy Sunshine Corporation” as a third party in the litigation. After preliminary examination and review, the court held that the Talent Show was a popular a variety show program that has strong popularity and brand recognition, and that if the defendant were not promptly stopped from such infringement, it would lead to irreparable damages for Letv.com and inevitably increase the costs of content deals. For these reasons, the court issued an injunction to Funshion.com and demanded it immediately cease broadcasting the coming season of the Talent Show in 2014 on both its website and mobile ecosystem until either the end of the final judgment or December 31, 2014.
The court sent the injunction ruling to the two parties. After the affirmation of Letv.com, according to the injunction ruling issued by the court, Funshion.com had already ceased the broadcasting of the 2014 season of the Talent Show on its website and mobile ecosystem. At present, this case is still in session.
China’s courts have always remained cautious in their stance towards litigation injunctions. Where a litigation injunction is issued, this is considered significant news. This appears to be changing, however, and we cannot deny that there are an increasing amount of litigation injunctions issued regarding copyright. For example, our previous post introduced a case regarding China Court’s Injunction Ruling: the Auction Company Shall not Sell Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang’s Letter and Manuscripts
Litigation injunctions include pre-litigation preservation and procedural litigation preservation, distinguished on the basis of time elapsed before a lawsuit is filed. When referring to this case, it is an application of a procedural litigation preservation order pursuant to Paragraph 1, Article 100 of the Civil Procedural Law, which stipulates that:
In the event that a judgment on a case may become impossible to enforce or such judgment may cause damage to a party because of the conduct of the other party to the case or because of any other reason, the people’s court may, upon the request of the said party, order the preservation of the property of the other party, require specific performance or issue an injunction; in the absence of such a request, the people’s court may, where it deems necessary, also order property preservation measures.
Regarding the appropriate standard to determine the issue of litigation injunctions, the court must determine whether it would cause irreparable damages to the right holder of the copyright if the court did not issue an injunction. For this case, it involved a popular talent show which derives value from continually fresh episodic content, thus obviously conforming to the standard.
In order to prevent an abuse of rights, when applying for a litigation injunction, the court will order the applicant to provide security. If the litigation injunction ruling is made wrongfully, such security will be used to compensate the person against whom the application is made for any losses incurred as a result of the preservation.