Bombay HC granted interim protection to Parle against Future Retail
The Bombay High Court granted interim protection to Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. against Future Consumer Ltd. and Future Retail Ltd. (the Defendants) stating that there was a strong prima facie case for the grant of ad-interim reliefs.
Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. (Plaintiff) has asserted that it is in the business of manufacturing and selling of biscuits including but not limited to confectionaries, wafers, cakes etc. and has been recognized as the most chosen fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand since 2010.
The Plaintiff stated that it has created the latest packaging used in respect of its "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "HIDE & SEEK" products and that the packaging were created /authored by Mr. Mayank Shah, employee of Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. during his course of employment with the Plaintiff and therefore Plaintiff No.1 is the owner of the copyrights subsisting in Plaintiffs' Packaging. According to Parle, in or about the months of July 2013, July 2014 and May 2017 it has created the latest packaging used in respect of its "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "HIDE & SEEK" products, respectively.
According to the Plaintiff, in the second week of September 2020, Plaintiffs came across the Defendants' impugned biscuits bearing the marks "CrackO", "Kracker King" and "Peek-a-Boo" having trade dresses / packaging / labels which are identical with and / or deceptively similar to and / or a substantial reproduction of Plaintiffs' Packaging.
Further it was asserted that the impugned packaging are being displayed / sold by Defendants in their retail outlets.
The counsel for the Plaintiffs also submitted that the Defendants' use of the impugned trade dresses / packaging / labels amounted to infringement of Plaintiffs' copyright and passing off.
Justice KR Shriram of the Bombay High Court made a comparison of the rival products and held that there is hardly any doubt about the manner in which Defendants have blatantly copied Plaintiffs' Packaging / labels.
"There is no doubt that the rival labels are being used for identical products under nearly identical packaging and trade dresses. The labels / artworks / packaging / trade dresses of Defendants' "CrackO", "Kracker King" and "Peek-a-Boo" products are a reproduction of Plaintiffs' Packaging used in respect of their "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "HIDE & SEEK" products and / or reproductions of substantial parts thereof. It is apparent that Defendants must have had Plaintiffs' products before them while designing the impugned packaging."
Justice Shriram said, "The similarity in the rival packaging/labels cannot be a matter of coincidence."
According to the Bombay High Court, unless reliefs as prayed for are granted, Plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable injury. The balance of convenience is also in favour of Plaintiffs. There are no equities in favour of Defendants.
The Court appointed Adv. Shrinivas Bobde as the Court Commissioner and as representative of the Court Receiver, Bombay High Court to execute the present order at the common address of Defendants and such other Biz Bazaar retail outlets in Mumbai owned/operated/managed by the Defendants, as maybe pointed out by the representatives of Plaintiffs during execution of the said proceedings till the next date of hearing.
It further ruled that the Court Commissioner shall keep the impugned products bearing the impugned labels / artworks / packaging / trade dresses under their seal in the safe custody of Defendants. The Court also gave the Court Commissioner authority to seek police assistance, if required and the local police authorities of the concerned police stations shall immediately render all possible assistance as requested by the Court Commissioner including deployment of such number of police personnel as required on production of a digitally signed copy of this order.
The Court Commissioner has been asked to submit his report through the Court Receiver to the Bombay High Court on or before 27th November 2020.
The Court would be hearing the case for further relief on 27th November 2020.