Author: Krithika Muthuraman
In the matter of M/s. Arudra Engineers Private Limited v. M/s. Pathanjali Ayurved Limited & Anr. [O.A. No. 258 of 2020, A. Nos. 1532 and 1533 of 2020 in C.S. No. 163 of 2020], the Madras High Court, vide its order dated August 6, 2020, granted an interim injunction restraining the Defendants from using the mark ‘CORONIL’ in relation to immunity boosting tablets for cold, cough and fever.
The Plaintiff is the registered proprietor of the marks ‘CORONIL-92 B’ and ‘CORONIL-213 SPL’ since 1993, in relation to chemical cleaning agents used for preventing corrosion of machinery. The Defendant No. 2 (Divya Yog Mandir Trust) is the applicant for the mark CORONIL in relation to tablets which were manufactured and initially marketed by Defendant No. 1 as the cure for COVID-19. Upon seeing such marketing, the Plaintiff filed the instant suit for infringement of its CORONIL marks under Section 29(4) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. This Section provides that a registered trademark having a reputation is infringed by an identical or similar mark being used in respect of dissimilar goods and services and use of which “without due cause takes unfair advantage of or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or repute of the registered trade mark” (emphasis supplied). The plaintiff was granted an ex parte interim injunction, which the Defendants subsequently applied to have suspended and vacated.
The Plaintiff argued that owing to lack of evidence of efficacy of the tablets in treating/preventing COVID-19, the Defendants lacked “due cause” for adoption and use of ‘CORONIL’, which was resulting in dilution of the Plaintiff’s mark. The Defendants contended that there was no infringement as their goods were completely dissimilar to the Plaintiff’s goods and their adoption of the mark CORONIL was justified as it is an immunity booster against the Coronavirus.
The Court held that in the absence of evidence of efficacy against COVID-19, the Defendants’ adoption and use of CORONIL was without “due cause” under Section 29(4)(c) of the Act. Further, while confirming the interim injunction, the Court recognized the Plaintiff’s reputation and rights in the mark and held:“It is also detrimental to the repute of the registered trademark Coronil of the plaintiff since…the general public might question whether the trademark ‘Coronil’ of the plaintiff would also not prevent corrosion by drawing the analogy of the ‘Coronil’ of the defendants, which does not cure Coronavirus…”.
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