In the first case of its kind in Indonesia, a Jakarta court granted and then lifted an injunction based on allegations of copyright infringement in a highly publicized case involving a new movie focused on Indonesia’s first president.
As shown by the decision itself, much confusion remains regarding interim injunctions in IP cases and they continue to be de facto unavailable in Indonesia. But perhaps this decision is a first step—however misplaced—towards their eventual availability to IP owners in Indonesia.
The facts of this case are certainly intriguing. The plaintiff is Rachmawati Soekarnoputri, daughter of former President Soekarno and author of the original script that formed the basis of the movie Soekarno: Indonesia Merdeka. As part of an ongoing dispute regarding the movie’s ultimate direction and content, she brought suit against the film’s director, the film company and the owner of the film company. Her suit alleged the version of the film that was to be released contained at least two scenes whose veracity she disputed and were not in her original script. As such, the suit claimed that the inclusion of these scenes violated her copyright.
She therefore requested the Jakarta Commercial Court to issue an interim injunction to prevent the movie from being distributed and/or otherwise publicly displayed. Along with her petition, Ms. Soekarnoputri was reportedly required to post a ‘warranty’ (i.e., security deposit) in the amount of 250 million Rupiah (approximately US $21,000).
In its December 11, 2013 decision, the Court granted her request for an interim injunction and ordered the defendants to deliver up master copies of the film and script until a final decision could be rendered. That final decision was issued by the Court approximately one month later on January 7, 2014, whereby it ruled against Ms. Soekarnoputri and lifted the previously granted injunction. In a bizarre twist, the Court found that the two disputed scenes did not in fact appear in the final version of the movie that was being publicly displayed.
Even more bizarrely, the Court’s decision also stated that it could only sustain injunctions where the goods at issue had not yet entered into the course of trade. In this case, the Court found that the movie began airing in Indonesia on December 9, 2013, while the petition for the interim injunction was filed one day later on December 10, 2013. Thus, according to the Court’s reasoning, because the movie had already entered into the course of trade, the Court was then powerless to order it removed from theaters.
Even though this was the Commercial Court’s first case dealing with an IP-based injunction, the reasoning underlying the decision is still disappointing. Injunctions have long been impossible to obtain in intellectual property cases in Indonesia, even though they are provided for in various IP laws, such as in articles 67-70 of the Indonesian Copyright Act of 2002.
In 2012, the Supreme Court issued Regulation No. 5 of 2012, which was intended to provide for the first time guidance as to the procedure and requirements for obtaining interim injunctions in instances of IP infringement. However, due to the vague and imprecise nature of many of its provisions, no such petitions had ever been filed from the regulation’s implementation in July 2012 until the Soekarno case began in late 2013.
In the wake of this decision, it will be interesting to see how long it is until a second such case is filed and if that court will finally make interim injunctions truly available to IP owners in Indonesia or whether they will continue to be a purely theoretical remedy.