IBL-2 hits legal hurdle on launch day as Sporty files petition on IP rights

Photo: IANS

THE SECOND EDITION of the Indian Badminton League (IBL), which has endured several hurdles in the past, received another blow on its launch on Thursday with erstwhile partners Sporty Solutionz filing a petition against the Badminton Association of India (BAI) in the Delhi High Court vis-a-vis the rights of the tournament.

Even as BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta was formally announcing the launch of the event at a posh hotel here, Sporty Solutionz released a press statement saying that they were moving the high court to protect their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

"We on behalf of our clients, M/s Sporty Solutionz Pvt. Ltd. (SSPL) have applied for the protection of IPR of our clients. We have invested heavily to build the brand IBL. This is also associated with our goodwill," said Sanjeev Kumar, counsel for Sporty Solutionz, commercial partners of the inaugural IBL.

"We have pleaded in the Honourable High Court of Delhi to restrict any other party from using the name, logo, title or any IPR associated with brand IBL."

SSPL chief executive Ashish Chadha told IANS that "the petition was filed on October 17".

This is the second such petition that has been filed by the SSPL after the BAI terminated the IBL contract on April 21. The first petition, a copy of which is in possession of IANS, was dismissed by the high court on May 29.

"They could not furnish the bank guarantees required for hosting the event which is why we had to terminate their contract," Das Gupta said.

The IBL's second edition will be held from January 2 to 17, 2016, as was reported by IANS on September 24. The league will yet again feature six city-franchises -- New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chennai replacing first edition team Pune. The tournament will start in Mumbai and conclude in the national capital.

Only two owners have been confirmed this time. Sahara Parivar will continue to own the Lucknow franchise while the Delhi outfit will see new owners in Infinite Computer Solutions, an IT solutions firm.

"The other four owners will be announced in due course. They have more or less been finalised but I have to maintain confidentiality according to the clause," Das Gupta said, adding that IBL-2 will have a total prize fund of $1 million (Rs.6.5 crore) an increase from Rs.5 crore last season.

"The winners will receive Rs.3 crore, the runners-up Rs.2 crore and the two semifinalists will get Rs.75 lakh each. By this, we will try and ensure that most franchises get some reward," Das Gupta told IANS.

Also present at the opening were P.V. Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, H.S. Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram, while Saina Nehwal sent a video message.

"I can assure you IBL-2 will be bigger and larger than the first edition. The IBL is here to stay and we will ensure its continuity," said Das Gupta.

The first edition of the IBL was conducted between August 14 to 31 in 2013 in Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Pune with the Saina-led Hyderabad Hotshots winning the tournament. Thereafter, the league did not take place in 2014 and 2015 due to unavailability of dates and other operational issues.

The players' auction will be held afresh in the first two weeks of November. "Each team will have Rs.1.75 crore to spend their team," Das Gupta told IANS.

The BAI president added that though the Chinese federation is not so keen on sending their players, two-time Olympic champion might come.

"Lin Dan might come. The talks are on. The very best players from across the world will be coming. Russians, Danish, Indonesians, British and many other federations have confirmed the participation of their players".

The broadcast partner has also been finalised but will be announced later.

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