The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to journalists Arnab Goswami and Prema Sridevi over allegations of intellectual property theft and copyright violation levelled against them by their former employer, the Times News Network (TNN).
Live Law, which has the copy of the notice, reports that the court observed that "an employee has to maintain confidentiality and utmost fidelity towards his employer".
"Accordingly, the defendants can be restrained from breaching the contract/reproducing/incorporating/ misappropriating or misusing the trade secret or confidential information/data of the plaintiff company and using or telecasting the same as that would amount to infringement of the plaintiffâs rights," the court said.
The case relates to two stories broadcast by the recently launched Republic TV, of which Arnab is a founder.
While one audio tape allegedly featured a conversation between former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and jailed former MP Shahabuddin, another tape that was broadcast on Republic TV was of a conversation between Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Shashi Tharoor, and journalist Prema Sridevi, who was then working with Times Now.
According to TNN, the former Editor-in-Chief of the channel and others has stolen intellectual property of the channel when they were working as employees and used it on Republic TV, thus breaching the contract of employment.
However, since the organisation did not have anything on record to show that the audio tapes belonged to its database, the court issued a short notice to the defendants.
Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), the parent company which owns Times Now and various other media outlets, filed a complaint in Mumbai against Goswami and Prema Sridevi last week.
In its complaint, the media conglomerate stated that The News Hour, formerly anchored by Goswami, is one of its most popular programmes. And that BCCL is the sole owner of the intellectual property rights as well as concept and design of the programme.
The organisation, as the High Court noticed, said that both the former employees had signed an employment contract which stated that employees had to maintain confidentiality of employment activities, trade secrets and acknowledgement admitting to the intellectual property rights held by the former.
This is the second legal tangle between Republic TV and BCCL.
BCCL in the April 2017, had sent a legal notice over using of the phrase--âNation Wants to Know".
At that time, Goswami had taken to social media and said that he was threatened with imprisonment by a media group if he were to ever use that phrase on TV.