After hearing the matter at length in March, Justice Amit Bansal pronounced the order on Wednesday and refused to provide any immediate relief to Rario
Earlier this year, Rario filed a suit against MPL and Striker alleging that the platforms were minting and distributing NFTs with images of players with whom it had exclusive agreements
While Rario is a subsidiary of Dream11, Striker is backed by the fantasy platform’s rival MPL
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday (April 26) refused to issue an interim injunction on Dream11-backed Rario’s plea against Web3 fantasy platform Striker seeking to block the latter from using art images of cricketers.
After hearing the matter at length in March, Justice Amit Bansal pronounced the order today and refused to provide any immediate relief to the digital collectibles platform.
The Delhi HC said that NFTs belong to no platform and the platforms involved in the lawsuit are just enablers of NFTs.
It is important to note that this is the first court case in India in regards to NFTs.
To recap, earlier this year, Rario, a subsidiary of Dream 11, filed a suit against gaming unicorn Mobile Premier League (MPL) and Striker alleging that the platforms were minting and distributing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which capture images of players with whom Rario had exclusive licence agreements.
It must be noted that Striker is backed by MPL. The Web3 fantasy platform was started by two former employees of MPL – Krishna Mohan Vedula and Nitesh Jain.
In its plea, Rario contended that the exclusive licence agreements allowed only it to mint NFTs and distribute them. The Dream11 subsidiary claimed that the act of MPL and Striker to launch the NFTs for those players, even though the images were independently created caricatures, was an act of infringement.
Striker collaborates with independent artists who produce original works of art inspired by cricket. The platform also offers ‘Player Cards’ which feature art from independent artists and can be traded within the Striker platform.
Commenting on the development, Striker cofounder Nitesh Jain said, “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…Just like you can’t tell photographers to stop using colour pictures available in public, you cannot ask developers and artists to not make NFTs out of publicly available images or information,” Nitesh Jain, cofounder of Striker said.
Earlier, gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and online gaming platform WinZO also filed a petition in the Delhi HC to intervene in the lawsuit. The court allowed them to advance submissions in addition to the submissions made by Rario, MPL, and Striker.
Speaking on the court’s order, AIGF Secretary Roland Landers said, “AIGF had intervened in the case as the questions of law involved directly impacted the online gaming industry and sought to curb innovation, specifically in fantasy sports and the NFT and blockchain arenas. AIGF’s intervention focused on preventing monopoly over any part of the online gaming ecosystem and allowing MSMEs to continuously innovate in the Web 2 and Web 3 space.”
Meanwhile, Dream11 refused to comment on the issue.
Rario, founded in 2021 by Sunny Bhanot and Ankit Wadhwa, is a licensed digital collectibles platform. It allows cricket fans to collect as well as trade cricket NFTs.
Last year, Rario bagged funding of $120 Mn in a round led by Dream Capital, the corporate venture capital and M&A arm of Dream Sports, which runs unicorn Dream11. Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is also an investor in the NFT platform.
According to a report, India’s fantasy sports market is projected to reach a size of INR 1,65,000 Cr by FY25 from INR 34,600 Cr in FY21, expanding at a CAGR of 38%.