Monday, 31 January 2022

John Doe Order

 John Doe Order

By Nemi Bhavsar

A John Doe order is a type of pre-infringement injunction used to safeguard the creator's intellectual property rights in artistic works such as movies and songs. The Rolling Anton Pillar, Anton Pillar, or Ashok Kumar order is another name for the John Doe order. The concept of a John Doe order was developed by the Court of Queen's Bench in the United Kingdom as an extraordinary equitable remedy in which an injunction order is issued against an unknown defendant, allowing the plaintiff to search and seize the infringer's premises with the goal of preserving evidence that might be destroyed.The John Doe order concept has changed over time to meet the needs of keeping up with unusual complications. In India, intellectual property rights have been recognised to protect the rights of those who invest in research and development, and the government has enacted various laws to protect the rights of investors and researchers, including the Copyrights Act of 1957 and the Patent Act of 1970.However, these laws are insufficient to address conflicts of interest in matters involving trademarks, copyright infringement, and personal privacy, among other things. The emergence and acknowledgment of intellectual property rights have prompted Indian courts to intervene in situations of copyright infringement. One notable result of such efforts is the John Doe order.

John Doe Orders in India

Order 30 Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure states that if a petitioner has reason to believe that his or her information will be used to infringe on copyrights, or if he or she has reason to believe that his or her works will be copied for financial gain, he or she may petition the court for a John Doe order.Under Order 39 Rule 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the court has the authority to issue a John Doe order by issuing an injunction order.

The John Doe order has gained international recognition and internal acceptance as a method of enforcing intellectual property rights. Although Indian courts have begun issuing John Doe orders, their usefulness and implementation need to be observed.

In Delhi High Court, Taj Television Ltd. & Anr. vs. Rajan Mandal & Ors. ([2003] F.S.R. 22), The first ex-parte interim order was issued, allowing the plaintiff to search and seize the equipment and gadgets of unknown defendants, kicking off the jurisprudence of issuing orders against unknown defendants, which is known as John Doe's/ Ashok Kumar's order.

This case gave John Doe orders in India due recognition, and since then, other courts have utilised similar principles to defend the rights of intellectual property creators.In Delhi High Court, ESPN Software v Tudu Enterprises (CS/OS/384/2011), The use of the John Doe order is not limited to the media business; it has spread to other fields as well. One example is when a court orders the seizure of counterfeit products in the possession of an unknown person for infringement of the plaintiff's trademark and copyright.

The following are some of the conditions that have been mentioned in various legal rulings:

  • A prima facie case must be established by the plaintiff(s).

  • The plaintiff(s) must also show that if the John Doe order is not passed, he or she will suffer real or probable damage or irreparable losses.

  • The plaintiff should win on the balance of convenience.

In Supreme court of India, Laxmikant vs. Patel vs. Chetanbhat Shah and Anr (Appeal (civil) 8266-8267 of 2001), wherein the Supreme Court held in no uncertain terms that a person may sell his goods or deliver his services under a trading name or style that, with the passage of time, may acquire a reputation or goodwill and may become a property to be protected by the Courts, while considering a plea of passing off and grant of an ad interim injunction.

It was decided that a rival who starts selling goods or services under the same name or imitates the name injures the business of the person who owns the property in that name. It was held that in the world of business, honesty and fair play are and should be the basic policy, and that when a person adopts or intends to adopt a name in connection with his business or services that already belongs to someone else, it causes confusion and has the potential to divert the customers and clients of someone else to himself, causing injury.


Although the John Doe order appears to be in the correct path from a security standpoint, its fundamental goal must be protected. The basic goal of the injunction should not be altered by a vague injunction, as this can be an abuse of the legal process, and this type of general and vague anticipatory injunction should never be issued. To preserve the public's interest, the breadth and scope of such directives should be clearly defined to prevent misuse.

In India, the use of John Doe orders has resulted in an unusual increase in knowledge and a sense of protection among Intellectual Property owners. The main point of the John Doe order in front of the court of law is that what if the unidentified defendants are:

  • unaware of such orders or

  • unwilling to follow such orders or

  • avoids and prefers to continue with such infringement even after that, then what is the point of having served such orders as it will be completely useless if the ultimate goal of having IPR protection.

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