From Ideas to Identity: How Intellectual Property Rights Shapes and Safegaurds Personality


The phrase “personality” refers to the distinctive ideas, feelings, and actions that set one person apart from another. The “right of publicity” or “personality rights” acknowledges people as complex creatures and protects their freedom to express who they are. This right, which has its roots in both common law and natural law traditions, covers the management and monetization of one’s identity, which encompasses things like voice, resemblance, look, style, and any distinguishing character. It is based on the fundamental human right to individuality and is especially pertinent to public personalities or celebrities.

As seen in the case of Shivaji Rao Gaikwad v. Varsha Productions 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 158, wherein Rajinikanth filed petition to prevent the release of the movie “Main Hoon Rajinikanth”. Rajinikanth allegation was that the recognisable style of his was copied in the movie, that his name and past works had been improperly used. Rajnikanth contended that the producer intended to capitalise on his notoriety and cultural distinctiveness, while the defendants claimed that no likeness or voice were used. The court upheld the relevance of personality rights for well-known celebrities by concluding that the movie’s title would have an influence on public opinion, requiring prior licence for personality’s name Rajinikanth and forbidding the use of the personality’s name “ Rajinikanth.” in the title and accordingly the defendant as per the court  order agreed to modify the title.


It may be noted, the media claims that Article 19 of the Indian Constitution’s “Freedom of the Press” gives them an inherent right to gather and publish any information on individuals that relates to “public interest” or “public concern.” Celebrities and famous personalities have objected to this since it intrudes on their private rights and personal life. Every person has the right to protect his or her own life and reputation in the eyes of the outside world. The authority to control how his or her own identity is used for commercial purposes should never rest with a third party without that person’s permission. While privacy was acknowledged as a basic right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, however the personality rights as such are not expressly stated in the Constitution.


Personality rights concern the use of one’s identity for commercial purposes, whereas privacy rights defend one’s private life and information. In the case of Sakshi Malik v. Venkateshwara Creations Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 352, the plaintiff was a model and actress who collaborated with several brands. The defendant utilised the photo, that the plaintiff had shared on her Instagram page in a disparaging way in a still from their movie. Even if the photograph was pixelated or blurry, the court asked that defendants to delete the images and make necessary changes. Therefore, it can be inferred from the Court’s Judgement that using the picture without her permission is deemed as violation of her publicity rights, and framing her in a derogatory or illegal way is a violation of her right to privacy.


An individual who is well-known in society should have their personality preserved, as this is done in accordance with the concepts of intellectual property rights. There are various theories propounded of which personhood theory and utilitarian theory deals mainly with the protection of personality rights. 

The courts have been vigilant is protecting the personality rights in a series of cases and the same is reiterated by  the Delhi High Court in the case of Amitabh Bachchan v. Rajat Nagi & Ors., CS (COMM) 819 of 2022, wherein an omnibus order of an ex parte ad interim injunction was issued  prohibiting the general public from using the image, name, voice, etc. of the renowned actor Amitabh Bachchan without his permission. This decision also paves the way for the evolution of personality rights law in the country. 

Intellectual property rights are capable of safeguarding a person’s identity by stopping others from using or profiting illegally from their ideas, works of art or the personality themselves.


  • Freedom of expression must be balanced with personality rights, which are an essential component of that right. While there may be limitations on the use of someone’s appearance or personality to preserve their rights, these restrictions shouldn’t unnecessarily impede artistic, literary, or journalistic endeavours that depend on freedom of speech. 
  • Innovations in technology, which include deep fake technology or AI-generated material, pose privacy issues about the manipulation and wrongful use of a person’s appearance. To handle new risks to privacy and personality rights, legislative frameworks must be continuously modified. 
  • Personality rights may differ between various countries, creating difficulties in issues with global implications. With the ease with which information and material may now go across borders in the digital age, it can be difficult to determine which jurisdiction rules apply and how they interact.

As a way forward, we see the courts defining the personality rights of the Well-known personality as held in Titan Industries v. M/s. Ramkumar Jewellers 2012 SCC OnLine Del 2382, the Delhi High Court observed that when a famous person’s name is used in advertising without their permission, the issue is not that nobody can use their name for commercial purposes, but rather that they should have the right to control how their identity is used. This right is known as right to publicity, which means they have the power to decide when and how their name and identity are used in commercial activities.


Understanding the legal structure, getting permission before utilising someone’s resemblance, and pursuing legal recourse if rights are infringed are all crucial for overcoming issues relating to personality rights in India. Additionally, maintaining privacy, practising responsible journalism, and increasing awareness might aid in overcoming these obstacles. In conclusion, Intellectual Property rights fosters individuality, creativity, and cultural diversity, while striking a balance between protection and accessibility thereby empowering creators and promoting innovation and knowledge sharing for the benefit of humanity.


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