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August 1, 2020

Differences In Font And Style Sufficient To Render Trademarks Dissimilar

Author: Andri Shukla

In the matter of Shri Shakti Schools Private Limited v. M/s. Chirec Public School [Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No. 160 of 2020], the Telangana High Court, vide its order dated July 3, 2020, refused to grant an interim injunction to Shri Shakti Schools Private Limited (Appellant) in a trademark infringement suit, finding that there is prima facie dissimilarity between the font and stylization of the parties’ trademark CHIREC.

The Appellant provides educational services at its schools ‘CHIREC PUBLIC SCHOOL’ and ‘CHIREC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL’ in Hyderabad. The Appellant claimed that it has been using the trademark CHIREC since 1989 and has acquired exclusive rights therein. The Appellant alleged that in February 2017, it learnt of the Respondent’s use of an identical mark – CHIREC PUBLIC SCHOOL, for educational services offered at a school in Karnataka. The Appellant claimed that the Respondent’s unauthorized use amounts to infringement of the Appellant’s registered trademark CHIREC. After a cease-and-desist notice issued to the Respondent did not yield compliance, the Appellant filed the instant suit for trademark infringement. The District Court refused the Appellant’s application for interim injunction. Thus, the Appellant filed the present appeal.

The Respondent denied the Appellant’s alleged longstanding use of the trademark CHIREC in respect of educational services and claimed that the Appellant had not acquired any reputation beyond Hyderabad. The Respondent contended that it adopted the trademark CHIREC in respect of its school/educational activities in 2005 and that it was an honest and concurrent user. The Respondent further contended that the fonts and colour combination in the respective marks are entirely dissimilar. On these grounds, the Respondent asserted that it had not infringed the Appellant’s mark.

On a comparative study of both parties’ trademarks, the Court found significant differences in the font, style and colour combination applied therein, holding that “…it appears that the respondent is using the word ‘CHIREC’ with a logo and its name is written only in blue colour with same font, but the appellant is using the said trade name with different style and with different font without any logo. Therefore, it is unlikely that the parents of the children who would admit their children into the schools would be misled into thinking that the respondent is using the appellant’s trade mark…”. The Appeal was accordingly dismissed.

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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