Court: NSTP plagiarised educational company’s concept paper for contest
UPDATED @ 06:14:09 PM 01-08-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — The High Court has ruled that The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad (NSTP) copied an idea from an educational company’s concept paper over the ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ spelling competition which was aired over Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad (TV3) in 2008.
In her judgment, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Hanipah Farikullah also held that by transmitting the competition in 2008, without the authorisation of the plaintiff, TV3, therefore, infringed the plaintiff’s right and also breached the confidential information disclosed to them.
She said, although there were some variations in the ‘RHB-NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ competition concept aired on TV3, however, bearing in mind the objective or purpose of the competition concept and the fact that the NSTP was given a copy of the plaintiff’s concept paper on the competition, “I am satisfied that first defendant (NSTP) copied the plaintiff’s concept of ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ competition”.
Hanipah said this in her 47-page judgment dated July 20.
On May 3, last year, Admal Sdn Bhd had filed a suit against NSTP and TV3 for infringement of copyright in the ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ competition concept and for breach of confidence seeking over RM10 million in damages from the defendants.
Admal had contended that it was the copyright owners of the ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ spelling competition and that the defendants, without the authorisation of the plaintiff, launched the ‘RHB-NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ spelling competition.
The company said that in January 2005, it held several discussions with NSTP where it presented the concept paper and both parties agreed to name it as ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’.
Hanipah, in her judgment, said she had examined both Admal’s concept paper and NSTP’s concept ‘RHB-NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ linguistic competition.
“In relation to this, in my view, the defendants’ concept of ‘RHB-NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ competition adopted substantively, the same idea as the plantiff’s concept paper,” she said.
Hanipah said the court accepted Admal’s submission that the concept of the competition produced by NSTP and TV3, and that as produced by Admal, were similar, adding that the court did not have to look as to whether there is a 100 per cent copy, but rather, whether there existed substantial copying.
She said the defendants, through the evidence of their three witnesses, had testified that the name of the competition was included in NSTP’s brand plan for 2005.
“However, the defendants did not adduce any documentary evidence to support its contention that the ‘NST-SPELL-IT-RIGHT’ competition concept was included in the first defendant’s brand plan.”
Therefore, she said, it was her view that Admal had established that copyright subsisted in the concept and it was the owner under Section 42 of the Copyright Act.
The court also granted damages sought by Admal, which is to be assessed later.
Admal’s counsel, Isa Aziz Ibrahim, told reporters that today, the parties met Hanipah for clarification and the court ordered NSTP and TV3 to produce documents relating to accounts of profit and loss for the spelling competition since 2008.
He also said the court set August 28 to hear the assessment of damages. — Bernama