Bombay HC declares ‘ISKCON’ ‘well-known’ trademark, restrains apparel company from using name

Written by Omkar Gokhale
| Mumbai |

Published: June 28, 2020 3:34:47 pm

Bombay Hc oin relese of prisoners, Maharashtra jails, Maharahstra government, Maharashtra coronavirus, Maharashtra covid deaths, Indian express A well-known trademark is a popular logo or a symbol that represents a brand, based on hard-earned goodwill and reputation among a substantial segment of the public. (File)

The Bombay High Court on Friday declared registered trademark ‘ISKCON’ of the religious organisation International Society for Krishna Consciousness as a ‘well-known mark in India’.

A single-judge bench of Justice Burgess P Colabawalla on Friday passed an order through videoconference on a commercial intellectual property (IP) suit filed by the religious organisation against apparel company ISKCON apparel Pvt. Ltd alleging that the manufacturer had infringed its registered trademark to sell clothes online.

The religious organisation submitted that it discovered infringement by apparel company in February this year and sent repeated summons to the defendant company which went unanswered. The organisation had sought from the court to restrain the apparel company from using its trademark. The plea said the defendant, running an online clothing business had changed the company’s name to Alcis Sports Pvt Ltd, but continued to use the term ISKCON prominently in all of their products.

Observing that the religious organisation had ‘made out a strong prima facie case and that balance of convenience lied in its favour,’ the court in March, this year had granted an ad-interim injunction restraining apparel company from using the trade name until the case was decided. The court had said that the plaintiff organisation would likely suffer irreparable injury if the infringement by apparel company and passing off had continued.

A well-known trademark is a popular logo or a symbol that represents a brand, based on hard-earned goodwill and reputation among a substantial segment of the public. The declaration also depends upon a degree and duration of recognition it receives in sector/s along with its extent in certain geographical area and value associated with it. The well-known mark, which gets protection from infringement can be declared by the decree of the Court or tribunal or through trademarks registry.

On Friday, Advocate Hiren Kamod along with lawyers Vaibhav Keni and Neha Iyer for the religious organisation pressed for a permanent injunction against the defendant company and submitted that considering the various goods and services offered by it under the trademark ISKCON and the goodwill and wide reputation it has acquired, deserved the status of ‘well-known trademark’ in India.

Advocate Kamod submitted that ISKCON, established in 1966 in New York, having a global presence was no longer restricted to any particular goods, services or activities, but pertains to a diverse range of categories. The plaintiff’s trademark has come to enjoy a personality that is beyond the scope of mere products, services rendered under the trademark, he said.

Kamod submitted that parameters for ‘well-known trademark’ as per the Trade Marks Act, 1999 were fulfilled in the present case. After perusing the material on record, the court opined that the plaintiff’s trademark satisfied requirements and tests as per sections 11(6) and 11 (7) of the Trade Marks Act.

HC observed, “Since ISKCON is a coined mark which is exclusively associated with the plaintiff religious organisation, it undoubtedly deserves the highest degree of protection. The documents evidently show that the trademark ISKCON has acquired immense and long-standing reputation and goodwill throughout India and it is associated with the plaintiff and none else.”

In view of undertaking by apparel company, Justice Colabawalla perpetually restrained it from using the term ISKCON in any manner, passed a decree in favour of religious organisation and ruled, “In view thereof, I find no difficulty in holding that the plaintiff’s trademark ISKCON is a ‘well known’ trademark in India as per the Trade Marks Act.”

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