The Bombay High Court in an ad-interim relief granted injunction sought by Yoko Sizzlers restraining Yokoso Sizzlers from using the mark Yokoso Sizzlers or any other trademark identical with or deceptively similar to the registered trademark of Yoko Sizzlers before adjourning the matter to 14th February, 2023.
Justice Manish Pitale granted interim relief to Yoko Sizzlers in an intellectual property rights suit filed by it against Yokoso Sizzlers.
The applicant/original plaintiff- Yoko Sizzlers submitted that the company has been operating in the hospitality business since 1986 and has been using the trademark from that year, though it was formally registered it in 1994 in Class 30 and Class 42 (international trademark classification of goods and services) They said the trademark has been in the public domain for a long period, and the brand has been running outlets all over the country and has its international outlets in UAE, Qatar, and UK.
In August 2022, the plaintiff came across Yokoso restaurant at Pune. The defendant was also allegedly found to have copied Yoko's website. Upon noticing the aforementioned restaurant of the defendant, being run in the city of Pune, the plaintiff issued a cease-and-desist notice to the defendant on 25th August, 2022, calling upon the defendant to stop using the impugned mark Yokoso Sizzlers.
The defendant sent its reply to the said notice, claiming that there was no similarity between the two marks and that the two words Yoko and Yokoso have different meanings in Japanese language. It was in this backdrop, that the plaintiff approached the High Court. The plaintiff served a notice on the defendant on 13th January, 2023. It is also stated that the defendant was intimated about the listing of the application before this Court.
The Court noted that a bare comparison between the two marks showed that the defendant merely added the 'SO' to the registered trademark.
The court also stated that the documents placed on record indicated that Yokoso Sizzlers has not only used the deceptively similar mark for its restaurant but other aspects of the brand – layout of the restaurant, and table mats used also prima facie indicate the efforts on part of it to copy the business practices of Yoko Sizzlers.
"Prima facie, there does not appear to be substance in the stand taken on behalf of the defendant. Merely because Yoko and Yokoso have different meanings in Japanese language, it would not amount to dissimilarity of the marks in question. Therefore, it is found that a strong prima facie case is made out on behalf of the plaintiff, for granting ad-interim relief. This Court is convinced that unless such relief is granted, the plaintiff will suffer grave and irreparable loss, thereby indicating that the balance of convenience also lies in favor of the plaintiff," observed the Court.
The court has listed the application for interim relief for further consideration on February 24.