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Modi may sue Chandra for using ICL

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali, IANS

New Delhi : Indian cricket board vice president Lalit Modi may sue media magnate Subhash Chandra for using ‘Indian Cricket League’ (ICL), a name he claims has been his “personal property” for many years.

“We are pursuing it, our lawyers are looking into it – what the legal ramifications are as far as that (ICL name) is concerned,” Modi told IANS.Chandra’s Essel Group is organising a breakaway ICL Twenty20 tournament from October-end in India.

Asked how Essel Group could use it if he had the patent for the ICL name, Modi said: “That’s a matter that will be debated in courts tomorrow (in days to come), not now.”

Asked if he was planning to sue the Essel Group, Modi said: “When the time is appropriate it will happen. What is the hurry in this?

“That is why I am saying that this matter is sub judice now … I mean, it is being looked at by our lawyers, and as and when they are ready with it they will take appropriate action at that point in time.”

Modi said he got the ICL registered under his name in the mid-1990s, though at that time it was supposed to be a limited overs inter-city tournament that never materialised.

The general belief is that the concept of that inter-city tournament was originally mooted by the late Madhavrao Scindia, a former Indian cricket board president.

Asked about this, Modi said: “In 1996, Scindia was chairman of my company, the ICL (Indian Cricket League).”

Over the last few years Modi changed the format from inter-city to Twenty20 based on 20 overs per innings matches that have became a rage worldwide.

Modi, on behalf of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Thursday announced a Twenty20 domestic tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), and an international competition, Twenty20 Champion’s league.

Will IPL’s name change to ICL if he files and wins the case against Essel Group?

Modi answered in the negative. “No. This (IPL) is the board property. That (ICL) is my personal property.”

Approached for reaction, Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president of Essel Group, sounded unperturbed.

“I ask Mr Modi that if he has indeed patented ICL, then why has he kept quiet for almost a year?” Kaul asked.

Kaul told IANS that Modi “has a habit of making such statements” and that, generally speaking, “there are a million statements made every day”.

“We are more focussed on our own work and the launch of ICL in October-end,” he said. “But I know that he presented an inter-city concept to the board but the BCCI shot it down in 1996.”

The BCCI Thursday announced an ambitious IPL with $3 million on offer as prize money and the Champion’s Twenty20 league, to be contested by top two domestic teams from India, Australia, England and South Africa, with $5 million up for grabs.

Chandra, on the other hand, has set aside a corpus fund of Rs.1 billion for ICL and has signed the likes of former West Indies captain Brian Lara to lead one of the six city teams that will take part in the tournament.