A Bengaluru artist accused a Kolkata design label of plagiarizing her work and wearing it over a blazer.
Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan showed off the controversial design at the Cannes Film Festival last month.
On Sunday, Nidhi Mariam Jacob said on social media that she found a strange similarity between her “Fantasy Garden” series of botanical paintings and the “Gardens of Infinite Bloom” line, made by Bobo Calcutta, a brand with a famous clientele. The brand is led by Jeet Shahi and Ayushman Mitra.
Lotus pods, hydrangea flowers, papayas and fantastic gardens have become Nidhi’s signature style over the past six years. Ayushman’s fashion wallet also features flora and fauna in striking colors and shapes, often.
Talking with Metrolife, Nidhi said Bobo Calcutta had “cleverly” interspersed four flowers and pods from his paintings “down to the same color and shade”, embroidering them on the blazer. The brand, she said, had neither asked for permission nor given credit.
Nidhi has no plans to bring a lawsuit. He says he would rather focus on his work rather than litigation, especially since the intellectual property (IP) laws in India are not solid.
The Sunday post, a video, was his way to close the “heartbreaking” episode and encourage other artists to talk. You have registered over 43,000 views and 150 comments. “Many artists have been messaging since then, sharing how their work was stolen,” shares Nidhi.
Nidhi’s friends noticed the similarities between his motifs and Bobo Calcutta’s and wondered if they cooperated. He hadn’t heard of the ready-to-wear label until then.
“I scrolled through their Instagram page, zoomed in on the jacket Aishwarya was wearing and was shocked to see my flowers on them,” Nidhi says. It was the fourth week of May.
He communicated his disappointment to the brand. “Ayushman apologized in a private message and replied that he had been inspired by his work by him and four other designers and had also incorporated his motifs (on the blazer),” says Nidhi.
Soon, the brand acknowledged “inspired by” to Nidhi on Instagram, but withdrew it a few days later, it claims. Metrolife could not independently verify this.
Nidhi did not ask for compensation, but asked the brand to donate the proceeds of the work to a charity of his choice. She says the brand did not listen to her request and instead sent her an email, denying the allegations of plagiarism and accusing her of “harassing” them.
Bobo Calcutta was out of reach for social media comments and emails.
Circulating an artist’s work or reproducing it for profit without the artist’s permission is illegal under the Copyright Act of 1957. Plagiarism invites sanctions and imprisonment, says Sai Ababharana KM of the law firm Factum.
Encourage artists to list their work in the government’s copyright office. In the event of a violation, this record can be used to establish an artist’s entitlement, he explains.
It’s a misconception that copyright infringement cases in India take a long time to conclude, says Akshatha M Patel, an intellectual property rights attorney. “I have fought over 100 IP disputes. A majority ends in a few months, in the same injunctive phase. Very few go to rehearsals, ”he says. Awareness of copyright laws among Indian artists is quite low, he says.
Being inspired by the work of others or appropriating it remains a debated topic in the art world. When it comes to copyright infringement? Akshatha says, “This is determined on a case-by-case basis. The courts compare the works in question and the degree of similarity “.