Supreme Court Rejects Interim Relief to Blenders Pride in Trademark Dispute against American Pride
The whisky brands will see an expeditious trial on orders of the top Court
The Supreme Court has refused to grant interim relief to Pernod Ricard India, which owns the Blenders Pride whisky brand, in a plea alleging trademark infringement by United Spirits, manufacturers of the whisky Royal Challengers American Pride.
In March 2023, the Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Alok Jain had dismissed Pernod Ricard’s application for interim relief against United Spirits.
A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that the High Court order under challenge was on an interlocutory application (IA) and declined to interfere. It directed the Mohali trial Court hearing the trademark suit, to decide on the case within six months.
The Apex Court showed concern over the long pendency of the matter after noting that the lower Court had yet to frame issues in the suit.
The bench ordered, "We find it strange that even in three years in a matter of this kind, issues have not been framed. We are of the view that it should not take more than six months to conclude the trial and pronounce the judgment. We order the concerned district Judge at Mohali to proceed accordingly. The trial should proceed expeditiously rather than being a battle over IAs."
Justice Kaul orally and lightly remarked, "I am deciding and opining on this though I do not have the expertise in the subject.”
A counsel for Pernod Ricard stated that consumers were getting confused with the term pride and picking up the competitor's bottle. This prompted Justice Kaul to ask, "Who buys international brand whiskey like this?"
The alcohol manufacturing company contended that the trademark 'Blenders Pride' was adopted by its predecessor Seagrams Company Limited in 1973. It obtained the registration in 1994. The application for registration of the trademark 'Pride' with the competent authorities was pending when United Spirits filed an application to register 'American Pride' as a trademark.
On the other hand, United Spirits contended that the word 'Pride' was a common English term that could not be monopolized.
The High Court had then observed, "It is too far stretch... that by use of the term 'Pride', there could be any misconception or dilution in the mind of the common man, who is the ultimate consumer,” and declined to grant the relief.
This led Pernod Ricard to appeal before the top Court.
While Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram appeared for Pernod Ricard, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented United Spirits.