Delhi HC Dismisses Rario NFT Marketplace’s Plea Against Rival Striker
Delhi High Court has weighed-in on a petition filed by Rario, a cricket-centric NFT marketplace backed by Dream11, an Indian fantasy sports platform. The court has dismissed Rario’s plea that questioned its rival marketplace Striker’s practice of developing NFTs inspired by the public information available on cricket players. In its decision, the Delhi High Court said no company has any exclusive rights on the identities of any public personality and that the NFT is open for industry payers to experiment with. Rario, in its plea, had complained against a rival esports player called Striker.
Striker operates a fantasy league that lets users keep and alter the players that they purchase for their teams for several seasons of virtual cricket leagues. The company works with independent artists for the designing the cricket-themed artworks.
Rario, in its petition, had said that Striker is even producing digital artworks related to the cricketers who have signed NFTs and Web3-related partnerships with Rario.
“The plaintiffs cannot claim to have an exclusive right over the use of an NFT technology. NFT is a technology that is freely available. NFT Player Cards are in fact ‘in-game’ assets to be used for enhancing the experience of playing the Game. There is no difference between online fantasy sports (OFS) with NFT-enabled player cards and OFS game in so far as the use of the name or artistic impression/ photograph of a player is concerned,” the Delhi High Court ruled on Wednesday, April 26.
Rario had filed its official petition in the Delhi High Court in February 2023. It had said, at the time, that the platform shows caricatures, images, and names of cricket player, violating the personality rights that it has secured licences on from select cricketers.
The petition was supported by cricketers such as Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, and Umran Malik, among others, whose digital player cards are sold as NFTs on Rario.
As per Rario, it has shelled out Rs. 148 crore to obtain these exclusive personality rights of some cricketers.
The Delhi High Court, however, has made it clear that despite cricketers having signed deals with certain NFT-related companies, their public identity remains open to inspire artists and other gaming and NFT avatars.
Nitesh Jain, the co-founder of Striker, has expressed relief after the Delhi High Court pronounced its stance on the situation.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Delhi High Court for establishing that there can be no monopoly over NFT technology. Indie game developers like Striker can’t survive in a world where NFT tech is monopolised by a few. You cannot ask developers and artists to not make NFTs out of publicly available images or information. This protects the rights of both indie developers who cannot afford expensive licenses, and the artist community that we work with to use this revolutionising new tech (NFTs) to make art out of public information and images,” Jain said in a prepared statement.
Striker managed to garner the support of the All-India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and Winzo in this case.
Reacting on the Delhi High Court’s judgement, the AIGF said the ruling favours independent artists who are trying to monetise their digital artworks and provide them to companies that may use them.
“This is a victory for thousands of indie game developers who are working tirelessly for building a vibrant Indian gaming industry,” Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF said.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens are digital collectibles built on blockchain networks. Anyone who purchases an NFT gets a complete ownership of their holding. NFTs can be inspired by an array of things including artwork, songs, videos, game characters, cartoons, and identities of public figures.
In India, the classification of NFTs as digital assets is still under deliberation. Most NFTs are compatible with Web3 ecosystems. They also hold a financial value, which may depreciate or increase with time. While this could churn profits for its owners who decided to trade or sell them, NFTs could also spell losses for their owners depending on the market sentiment and other factors.
Members of India’s esports and Web3 communities, however, can buy, hold, sell, and trade NFTs via licenced platforms.
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