Increasing Relevance of IPR in Marketing


Can congratulating an Olympic medal winner land you in trouble? Corporates who congratulated P V Sindhu, the ace shuttler, after she won badminton bronze in Tokyo Olympics, may have to shell out Rs. 5 crores each as penalty.

Some of the leading brands and companies such as Aditya Birla, P & G, Perfetti Van Melle, Pan Bahar and Apollo Hospitals not only congratulated P V Sindhu for winning the medal, but also promoted their logos or brand image in the social media alongside. This amounts to ‘moment marketing’ or capitalizing on a celebrity’s popularity without proper authorization.

The ad agency Baseline Ventures which handles the commercial deals of P V Sindhu has decided to sue those companies who have displayed their logos or brand images while congratulating the shuttler and claim damages.

From the legal perspective it is an IPR issue and can be classified under infringement of registered trademark. As per the section 134 of the Trade Marks Act 1999, any person or company can be taken to court for infringement of registered trademark in case of any violation. Here using P V Sindhu’s name along with their logos amounted to such violation.  Further, a case also can be filed under the Copyright Act, 1957[1], under the clause “Performer.” Sindhu has been a performer in the Tokyo Olympics.

IPR & Business

As per WTO, individuals / organizations who have created/ invented a product or design are provided with IPR rights on their creativity and they have exclusive rights for a specific period of time.

The importance of IPR is increased over the years and has become an important part of any business. Since IPR safeguards the creator’s ideas and the rights on the assets, it will be difficult to infringe the rights of the creator and will be considered illegal if an attempt is made so by others.

The various forms of IPR such as copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial designs and trade secrets allow a business entity and its products to be distinguished from others, especially competitors. IPR can bring fortune to a company as the legitimate ownership rests with the company.  Hence, companies spend a fortune on getting their IPR registered.

Thus, IPR is an important intangible asset which provides the companies and its creator with competitive edge over rivals. IPR is much more than an idea. It actually protects business assets which is the integral to the core services of   business. IPR prevents competitors to copy the companies’ assets through trademarks or copyrights without approval from its creator.

IPR and Marketing

Intangible assets created by individuals/ organizations enjoy protection under IPR and necessary care should be taken while marketing them. This is a vital marketing strategy. There are values created for the stakeholders for the process or creations.   Marketers have to consider this aspect in their campaign while using the intangible contents. For, some of these contents could be protected by IP rights and any unauthorised use can lead to legal complications. The case of P V Sindhu referred above is an apt case in this count.

Learners’ Opportunity

IPR is fundamental to every aspect of business and responsible for achieving commercial success. It is also integral with good business practices. To know more about good business practices, check out @

Discussion Questions

1.  Can the right of publicity be infringed, especially in case when Indians (Individuals and corporates) feel proud of the performance of their countrymen in an international event and express their feelings openly?

2.  What is the importance of infringement of IPR in marketing?

Source Articles

1. Corporates may have to pay for congratulating PV Sindhu on her second Olympic medal

2. What are intellectual property rights?

3. PV Sindhu may go to court, and it is not the badminton court

4. For Safe Marketing: The Influence Of Intellectual Property Rights On Marketing Strategies

5. Importance of IPR in business world by Legal service

6. Why you need to protect your Intellectual Property? An article by Business and IP center- British Library

[1] The Copyright Act 1957 governs the subject of copyright law in India

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