[Breaking] Pradeep Poonia Restrained From Using The Name WhiteHat Sr In 20 Crore Defamation Case

The controversy began in early September this year when Mr Poonia launched a tirade of tweets and posts on various social media platforms against White Hat Jr.

White Hat Jr founder files defamation case against Mr Pradeep Punia

The plaintiff Mr Karan Bajaj on Saturday had filed a 20 crore defamation suit against software engineer Pradeep Poonia. Mr Bajaj has also accused Mr Punia of trademark infringement, disparagement, abuse, breach of privacy, mischief, etc. The plaint further alleges Mr Poonia of hacking into WhiteHat Jr's internal business communications platform SLACK.

The genesis of the contraversy

The controversy began in early September this year when Mr Punia launched a tirade of tweets and posts on various social media platforms against the plaintiff’s Byju’s owned White Hat Jr. During the hearing Mr Rohtagi read out some of the scandalous tweets done by Mr Poonia.

Mr Poonia had alleged that WhiteHat Jr uses 'housewives' to teach coding. He also claimed that what WhiteHat Jr is doing is no different from sexual abuse as the kids will have 'lifelong issues.'

Defendant’s initial posts started in relation to the White Hat Jr's advertisements concerning an imaginary child who the Plaintiffs christened “Wolf Gupta”, the Defendant’s posts quickly turned more controversial subsequent to the withdrawal of the advertisements, with the Defendant claiming that Plaintiff No. 1 had “murdered” Wolf Gupta.

The defendant has also been accused of running slandering campaigns against the plaintiff company on telegram. The plaintiff has been issuing takedown notices for removal of the alleged defamatory posts.

The plaintiff company has also contended that Mr Poonia tutored a minor and signed her up for various trial classes with the White Hat Jr under fraudulent identities with the sole aim of harassing the teachers conducting those classes and proceeded to record the videos of those classes without the consent or knowledge of the teacher or of Plaintiff and then put them up in the public domain.

The plaint further made the following contentions

Mr Poonia made youtube videos to defame the White Jr brand.

Mr Poonia’s criticism is not legal and legitimate.

Mr Poonia is promoting deceptively similar educational video content through a 7- year old child.

The defendant is not a White Hat  Jr consumer and therefore not in a position to audit and evaluate White Jr curriculum.

The arguments in Delhi HC

Senior Advocate appearing for the plaintiff reiterated that Mr Poonia has no business commenting on the plaintiff's curriculum, he's not even a consumer, he claimed. The learned Counsel also pointed out that Mr Poonia has made accounts like the menace of Byju’s on telegram and White Junior on another social media platform thereby infringing the plaintiff’s trademark.

Advocate Swati Sukumar appearing for Mr Poonia cited multiple media reports that question the advertising campaign which was being run by White Hat Jr. She also highlights that her client is yet to come across a disclaimer for the use of the fictional character in the advertisements.

Delhi HC issues Ad interim in favour White Hat Jr and directs Mr Poonia to take down URLs

After hearing the arguments from both the parties HC issued ad interim injunction to White Hat Jr from hacking or unauthorizedly accessing the internal communication platform SLACK and displaying communication and chats between White Hat and its employees on his YouTube channel. In this connection, HC also directed Mr Poonia to take down his Youtube URL- Poonia 3.0

HC further restrained Mr Poonia from commenting on the number or quality of teachers of White Hat Jr and from commenting on their educational background.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled on January 06, 2021.

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White Hat Jr BYJU's Sandeep Poonia

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