High Court (India)

June 29, 2020

ISKCON is a well-known trademark; apparel company cannot use it: Bombay HC


[ by Legal Era News Network ]

Bombay-High-Court

The Bombay High Court has ruled that the trademark ISKCON used by the religious organisation International Society for Krishna Consciousness (the organization/Plaintiff) is a ‘well-known mark’ and anyone found to be using the trademark would be liable for damages for trademark infringement.

A bench of Justice BP Colabawalla of the Bombay High Court, was hearing a commercial intellectual property suit filed by the religious organization through advocates Hiren Kamod, Vaibhav Keni and Neha Iyer submitted that Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd, sold its products online using the name Iskcon. According to the religious organization, this action of the company amounted to trademark infringement. The organization filed a suit seeking restraint on the apparel company that was using the said trademark – ISKCON. The decree of ‘well known’ trademark is usually issued by the trademark registry.

It was further submitted that when the infringement by the apparel company came to light in February and as repeated summons to the company went unanswered, the organization approached the Court seeking a permanent injunction restraining the company from using its trademark.

The counsel for the Plaintiff referred to the plea which stated that after the summons was issued the company changed its name to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. and submitted an undertaking that it would not use the trademark or name ISKCON in future. However, the term Iskcon prominently continued to be used in all their products.

The counsel for the religious organisation also submitted that ISKCON that was established in 1966 in New York had since then created a global presence that was not restricted to any particular goods, services or activities, but to a diverse range of categories. It was also submitted that the organization’s trademark had come to enjoy a personality that is beyond the scope of mere products, services rendered under the trademark.

In light of these submissions the counsel for the Plaintiff argued that as parameters for ‘well-known trademark’ as per the Trade Marks Act, 1999 were fulfilled in the present case, the court should declare it so.

After perusing the material on record, the Court held that the plaintiff’s trademark satisfied requirements and tests as per sections 11(6) and 11 (7) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and said that since ISKCON is a coined mark which is exclusively associated with the plaintiff religious organization, it undoubtedly deserves the highest degree of protection. “The documents show that the trademark ISKCON has acquired immense and long-standing reputation and goodwill throughout India and it is associated with the plaintiff and no one else.”

The court in its order declared ISKCON as a “well- known” trademark in India under the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and held that ISKCON is a coined trademark of the plaintiff and the term did not exist prior to the plaintiff’s adoption and use of the same, it noted.

Justice Colabawalla said, “I have no doubt in mind that the plaintiffs trade mark ISKCON has come to enjoy a personality that is beyond mere products/services rendered thereunder and the recognition, reputation and goodwill of the trade mark ISKCON is today no longer restricted to any particular class of goods or services.”

According to the court, the trademark ISKCON has wide acceptability and its popularity extends not only in India, but also abroad.



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