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Mulla associate Priyanka Khimani’s new celebrity media firm wins rare charity Rs 10 lakh image-rights injunction for Sonu Nigam v Mika Singh

Yo Yo Mika Singh, you larger than life
Yo Yo Mika Singh, you larger than life

Former Mulla & Mulla associate Priyanka Khimani’s one-month-old media law start-up Khimani & Associates won a rare injunction and costs for iconic singer Sonu Nigam against iconic singer Mika Singh and publicity firms OCP Music and Bright Outdoor Media.

Singh and OCP were advised by Arjun P Bhagat & Co. Advocate Shoaib Memon acted for Bright Outdoor Media.

The Bombay high court restrained Singh and OCP Music from publishing, displaying or reproducing advertisement hoardings for the Mirchi music awards, in which Singh had enlarged his image and dwarfed Nigam’s and other artists’ images in the same canvas. These were not the official advertisement hoardings for the awards, but were produced by Singh through the agency of OCP and Bright.

[Download order (PDF)]

The court also restrained Singh from using Nigam’s image without his permission or infringing his personality rights, performer’s rights and publicity and image rights in any way.

The court then imposed costs of Rs 10 lakh on Singh. Advocate Vinod Bhagat acted for Singh and OCP.

Khimani who with counsel Ashish Kamat acted for Nigam told Legally India that it wasn’t the practice of the Bombay high court to grant a “sweeping injunction” of this nature or any costs, let alone to the extent of Rs 10 lakh, in such cases.

Khimani said: “He'd always told us that he would because it wasn't about the money but about establishing a legal principle. So as soon as the courts pushed Mika for a settlement we made a statement that he intends to donate all the monies to charity.”

Showbiz beginnings

Khimani, who obtained her law degree from GLC Mumbai in 2012 after having graduated as a biotechnology engineer and working as a television writer, was representing Nigam for the first time but has a long list of media and entertainment clients – her reason to start up after two years at Mulla & Mulla.

The bulk of Khimani’s work at the firm involved working on matters of artists such as Lata Mangeshkar and her music label LM Music, Usha Mangeshkar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Rajesh Roshan, Alisha Chenoi, Music Composers’ Association of India, Indian Singers’ Rights Association and 100 Communications.

She said that her personal relationship with Lata Mangeshkar from her television-writing days brought one of Mangeshkar’s intellectual property (IP) matters to Mulla & Mulla and from there on the other artist clientele followed through “by word of mouth”, finally following her to her IP and media law start up after she left the firm in March.

She is now operating from Raheja Chambers at Nariman Point in Mumbai by herself with two paralegals, but said she would grow the headcount by the end of the year. Correction: An earlier version of the story erroneously stated that the firm consisted of 10 lawyers.

Update 6 May 2014: Mulla & Mulla partner Shardul Thacker commented: "Mulla and Mulla has an extremly strong and illustrious media and entertainment practice which has been established decades ago that has capabilities and experince on both the litigation and transaction/documentation side. Our practice spans over the years which in particular involved landmark events like the setting up and the evolution of the various phases of the FM industry in India including related litigation.

"We have represented amongst others, interests for award winning movies such as Gandhi and Fire in the Blood, including various multi-jurisdiction based transactions for films. We have also represented publishers in litigations and transactions for several decades amongst the landmark ones being Freedom at Midnight and others like the film journal, Variety and the award winning Shiva Trilogy.

"We have and continue to represent amongst other clients various media houses who run and provide various forms and channels of media including newspapers, periodicals and radio stations. We are a low profile firm of solicitors of long-standing [and] have a policy of not [engaging] in overtly publicising our matters and names of clients in view of client confidentiality."

Photo by Laura Lee Doodley

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