Tag Archives: Financial Times

12 gems from a response to a TOI legal notice

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There’s something decidedly execrable when a media company thinks it is well within its rights to use its might to silence another media company or media professional with a fire-and-brimstone legal threat.

Even more so, when a 175-year-old media giant like The Times of India group picks on a 22-year-old girl.

In April, lawyers representing Times Publishing House, a Times subsidiary, tried to scare Aparajita Lath (in picture), a student of the national institute of juridical sciences (NUJS), with civil and criminal action for writing a 669-word blog post in February 2013 capturing the Times group’s long-drawn trademark tussle with the Financial Times of London.

The Times lawyers probably expected a cowering apology.

What they got instead was a rocket from Shamnad Basheer, the founder of SpicyIP.com and a chaired professor of IP law at the NUJS, who also recommended an IQ test for the Times lawyer.

Usually, lawyers go all weak in the knees when taken on by a Goliath. But Basheer’s 5-page response to the Times‘ 7-page notice “most unapologetically” speaks truth to power with candour. It’s an object lesson to media companies which try to silence critics, and an even bigger lesson to law firms.

Here are 12 standout sentences from Basheer’s response:

1) “We strongly object to the vile language and the highly aggressive tone used in the notice. We can respond in kind, but we choose to be a bit more civil with you.”

2) “You choose to issue this highly malevolent letter, hoping to intimidate us into a meek apology. Unfortunately, while the meek may inherit the earth, they are bound to be shown no favour by corporate powerhouses such as your client.”

3) “So, let’s cut to the chase and explore your alleged grievances articulated rather flatulently in over seven pages of a highly intemperate legal notice.

4) “We could send you stacks of material originating from your client that cause the same [shock] effect on us, particularly the numerous page 3 images that continue to assault us on an almost daily basis.

5) “As any law student in a decent law school will inform you, in order to constitute the legal wrong of defamation, you need to prove that the statements made by us necessarily lowered the reputation of your client in the eyes of a “reasonable” public.

6) “We assumed that as a qualified lawyer, you are well aware of the distinction between an opinion and a fact…. If the law has changed in this regard, please to intimate us, so that we may notify our readers of this sea change, which has gone unnoticed, without so much as a whisper.

7) “… we are prepared to issue a clarification. However, we will do so only upon your sending us a more polite letter seeking this clarification. ‘Please” and “thank you” are words that have unfortunately become relics in this fast pace world of ours, and even more so with fast paced lawyers such as yourselves.

8) “We fail to understand how any reasonable reader would have arrived at such a fanciful conclusion. And those that do are in dire need of a serious IQ check. We believe there are several robust online tests floating around these days, should you wish to take one of them.

9) “Apparently you’ve not sent Mint a legal notice as yet. We can only guess that you’re averse to picking people your own size…. We’re guessing that you’ve shied away from sending a legal notice to Harish Salve, widely acknowledged as a leading legal luminary and heavyweight [quoted in the Mint article and the blogger’s story].

10)  “We are particularly amused at your allegation that a 22-year-old law student caused “irreparable injury” and “loss of reputation” to a powerful media house by highlighting a highly technical trademark dispute of public importance and reflecting on the protracted nature of the litigation. Continue to amuse us, and we may begin to reciprocate.

11) “It is surprising how you’ve twisted simple sentences . We belong to the land of yoga, no doubt, but this is simply too much of a stretch. Clearly, neither your client nor Financial Times Limited are ‘hapless’ when both have been spending crores of rupees in fighting this protracted legal battle for more than 20-odd years!

12) “If you continue with this character assassination and threaten us any further, we will be constrained to initiate legal proceedings against you. This will needlessly fill the coffer of two sets of lawyers but perhaps that’s what you really want. In the sincere hope that your client is smarter than you, we remain, most unapologetically yours.”

For the record, advocate Ashish Verma signed the Times legal notice for the Delhi-based K. Datta & Associates.

Also for the record, a similar notice was served on Paranjoy Guha Thakurta for writing the Mint article, although Mint, which is owned by Hindustan Times, has been spared the agony.

Photograph: courtesy Spicy IP

Also readThrice-bitten, will FT find real love again?

Financial Times takes on The Times of India

Now The Times of India takes on Financial Times

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The Hindu threatens to sue The Indian Express

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Shekhar Gupta threatens to sue Vinod Mehta, et al

Editors’ Guild backs Times Now in libel case

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External reading: Was Times right to take on blogger?

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Now, The Times of India takes on Financial Times

First, Financial Times took out an advertisement, in the name of its CEO John Ridding, in response to an ad appearing in The Times of India  promoting the desi “Financial Times” published by Times Publishing House.

Now, the Times group has returned the favour with an an ad, not in the name of its CEO but of its company secretary Amita Gola, in response to Ridding’s missive.

Also read: Financial Times takes on The Times of India

Thrice bitten, will FT find real love after 20 years?

Financial Times takes on The Times of India

The Times of India group’s two-decade long fight with the Financial Times over the use of the FT trademark in India has taken a fresh twist with the Times group announcing the launch of a new edition of a “supplement” titled Financial Times in the Delhi national capital region (NCR).

Launched in the early 1990s in Bangalore, essentially to protect the Economic Times from a foreign player of the size and standing of FT by stymieing its entry, the Times group’s move landed in the courts, where some kind of closure was reached in May this year.

With ToI taking out ads last week for its Financial Times (“Business news now customised for Delhi NCR”), the real Financial Times has hit back with an ad in ToI‘s rival Hindustan Times, that carries a message from its chief executive officer, John Ridding:

“The Financial Times would like to make it clear that the internationally renowned ‘Financial Times‘ newspaper is not in any way associated with the Indian title of the same name, published by Times Publishing House (TPH), part of Bennett, Coleman & Co.”

Curiously, the FT advertisement does not appear in the Indian Express, with which it has entered into a tieup after a breakup with Business Standard.

External reading: An epic battle concludes?

John Elliott: How FT was blocked by India’s media industry

Also read: Thrice bitten, will FT find real love after 20 years?

The curious case of David Davidar & Vikram Seth

David Davidar, the Gentleman magazine journalist who became the face of Indian book publishing, is back in the news with a writer, Sivasundari Bose, alleging that Davidar plagiarised from her work, The Golden Stag, for his debut novel, The House of Blue Mangoes.

Bose claims similarities between the locale (south eastern tip of India), the time (the turn of 20th century), the sentences etc to make her claim.

Nilajana S. Roy, the Business Standard‘s literary critic, draws from her own example in journalism to show why Bose’s charges ring hollow.

“Some years ago, I took Vikram Seth out to lunch. We went to Dakshin, the signature South Indian restaurant at the Marriott; I switched my tape recorder on and ate very fancy appam-stew. The interview ran in Business Standard.

“A few days after it came out, I received an angry email from a man who accused me of plagiarism. Rahul Jacob at the Financial Times had also taken Vikram Seth out to lunch the month before. My accuser claimed that I had never actually had lunch with Seth; I had stolen Jacob’s experience for the column.

“The problem was that Vikram Seth behaves the same way when he’s taken out to lunch. He will duck under highly polished tables to see if they’re polished on the underside. And his opinions on writing and books in my interview and Jacob’s interview were presumably similar, though there were no direct quotes in common.

“I knew my accuser was misguided, and yet, the accusations were surprisingly hurtful. I hadn’t read Jacob’s Lunch with the FT before writing my own column. But still, I wondered whether I had managed to rip off his style in an act of psychic theft.

“When I did read both “Lunches” side by side, I finally understood my accuser. Jacob and I had taken the same man out to lunch and had come up with different experiences — but we talked about the dishes Mr Seth ordered, his enjoyment of the meal. Plagiarism was built into the grid.”

Photograph: courtesy The Globe & Mail, Toronto

Read the full column: When it’s not stealing

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Also read: Bombay Times, Hindustan Times and plagiarism

How should publications deal with plagiarists?

‘Plagiarists speed up spread of knowledge’

If imitation is the best form of flattery…

The award for the best opening paragraph goes to…

Since flattery is best expressed through imitation—II

Everybody’s is changing the game these days

‘Editors are lobbying on behalf of corporations’

Corruption in the media is as old as, well, Malabar Hill, except that stories of individual transgressions—journalists and editors seeking cars, houses, laptops etc—have now been supplanted by stories of institutional transgressions.

Writing in the Financial Times, London, the historian Ramachandra Guha puts his finger on a newer and more insidious form of media corruption:

“The Republic of India today faces challenges that are as much moral as social or political…. These (corruption scandals) have revealed that manner in which our politicians have abused the State’s power of eminent domain, its control of infrastructural contracts, and its monopoly of natural resources, to enrich themselves…. This activity cuts across political parties—small and large, regional and national.

It has tainted the media too, with influential editors now commonly lobbying pliant politicians to bend the law to favour particular corporations….

“[The] current wave of corruption scandals will put at least a temporary halt to premature talk of India’s rise to superstardom. Such fancies are characteristic of editors in New Delhi and businessmen in Mumbai, who dream often of catching up with and even surpassing China.”

Also read: Bangalore journos named in site allotment scam

Only in India: 90% off for journalists!

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journalists

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

Anti-corruption campaigner’s “error of judgement”

The WikiLeak cable on the journalist who…

‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

The Indian Express, Reliance and Shekhar Gupta

The shadow of Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries (RIL) has hung heavily over the northern editions of the Indian Express for the last seven years, in a marked departure from the late 1980s when Ramnath Goenka‘s paper was seen as Dhirubhai Ambani‘s chief  bully and bugbear.

Tongues have wagged incessantly about how well paid Express staffers are given its insignificant circulation and non-existent advertising; about the kind of foreign tieups it stitches up (The Economist one day, Financial Times the other); about the about-turn the paper’s former editor Arun Shourie made as NDA minister; about how comfortable the paper’s current editor Shekhar Gupta looks wth the Reliance gang, and so on.

The bazaar gossip—does Mukesh Ambani have a stake in the Express?—barely evokes any surprise.

In an interview with Shuchi Bansal of Mint, Shekhar Gupta catches the bull by the horns:

“What is there to explain? The shareholding statement is published every year in the paper. Express Holdings and Enterprises Ltd, the holding company, is 100% owned by Viveck Goenka. Then there is Viveck Goenka himself and a small bit of shareholding is with me. The shareholding of every company is listed by every company with the ministry of corporate affairs.

“I am surprised this question gets asked.

“I have handled the management for this company for a long time. This company has gone through due diligence by the finest team of experts in the business. There is no question ever, ever of any corporate whether its name begins with R or T or B or XYZ owning a single share.

“Funding cannot happen under the table. The issue is that the fight between Reliance and Express was vicious that films are being made on it now.

“What is our challenge as editors? We cover Reliance as any other corporate. Sometimes difficult calls have been taken because Express has a campaigning mindset. The solution is to do straightforward classical journalism.

“We are instruments for nobody.”

Read the interview: No question ever of any company owning even a single share in IE

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Also read: Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

Have the Tatas blacklisted the Times of India again?

Why the Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

2 new biz publications in 4 days of Cong win

forbes india

New business publications are raining in India after the unexpected scale of triumph of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in the general elections on May 16.

On Monday, May 18, the Indian facsimile edition of The Wall Street Journal was launched in association with the Indian Express group with long-time WSJ man Suman Dubey at the helm. And on Thursday, May 21, the Indian edition of Forbes published by Network 18 and edited by Indrajit Gupta hit the stands.

“Why invest in a magazine when readership is dwindling all over the globe?” Raghav Bahl, the founder and editor of Network 18 writes in the premiere issue of Forbes:

“Because India is in a transformational phase unmatched in human history. Demographic mobility is creating a huge generation of first-time readers, who will simultaneously watch TV and begin to surf the Net. This demographic push is wo wide and deep that many will not skip the “touch and feel paper-reading phase” of their advancement into newly literate adults. But the magazines for this “digital and paper” generation will have to morph and evolve. They will have to go beyond the first information reports screaming on television and web sites. Magazine editorial will have to become like second-skin analysis, get closer to the bone, display more shades, investigate deeper, be more sensitive, deal with ambiguities, explain the greys and tell it with new-age chutzpah and design.”

An India edition of Financial Times is also on the cards, and ET Now, the business channel of The Times of India group is due to go on the air any time now.

Also read: Is this man the new media mogul of India?

An Indian address for ‘The Capitalist Tool’

The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros