High Court (India)

March 26, 2019

Trademark Infringement: 12 Firms Banned from Selling Patanjali Goods in International Market


patanjali

The Delhi High Court has granted an ex-parte ad-interim injunction against Masala King Exports Trading Private Limited and 11 other companies, banning them fromexporting products manufactured by Patanjali Ayurved Limited (PAL) in the international market. The respondent companies may continue to sell the petititioner Patanjali’s products in the domestic market, clarified Justice Sanjeev Narula. The respondent companies had been procuring PAL goods, meant exclusively for sale in the domestic market and then illegally exporting them without any authorization from petitioners Patanjali. As such, the respondent companies were infringing on PAL’s exclusive right to use its registered trademark. The Patanjali side was led by Senior Counsel Dayan Krishnan along with Rohan Ahuja and Sonali Dhir of Athena Legal. According to Krishnan, PAL had issued letters to the customs authorities to prevent such illegal exports but the illegal exports had continued. Complaints had also been lodged with the Commissioner of Customs by PAL but the Customs authorities said that intellectual property rules did not apply to exports and no action had been taken on the complaint.

PAL currently did not have any authorized export channel and the entire export was being done solely by PAL itself through its own IEC No. 0506062686. Krishnan also informed that the packaging of products meant for export was completely different from that of products meant for domestic sales. Among the instances of tampering with goods, PAL had come across one where a sticker on a packet of Patanjali wheat flour saying it was fit for consumption within four months from date of manufacture was replaced with a sticker saying it was fit for consumption within nine months from the data of manufacture.

Justice Narula referred to the tampering of Patanjali products by exporters in the international market and ruled, "In view of the categorical stand taken in the suit that the Plaintiff Company does not authorize any dealer to carry out the export of its product, the acquisition of the products for the purpose of export could only be done through the Plaintiff. The goods that are being exported are meant only for domestic sale. Thus, export of such products would conflict the rights of the Plaintiff and prima facie, it would also be an infringement under Section 29 (1) read with Section 29 (6) of the Act. It also prima facie appears that in case the Defendants No. 1 to 13 are permitted to alter the product in question, in the manner which is alleged to have been done, it would attract the provisions of Section 30(4) of the Trade Mark Act 1999."

"In view of the material placed on record, it appears that the Plaintiffs have made a strong prima facie case for grant of ex-parte ad-interim injunction against the Defendants. Balance of convenience is in favour of the Plaintiff and irreparable harm will be caused if, the Defendants are not restrained from continuing the illegal export of the Plaintiff's product in international market," Justice Narula said.

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