Case Summary On Vardhman Properties Ltd V. M/S Vardhman Developers

Introduction

There has always been a question that whether similar or phonetically similar trademarks can be registered same under the same class or not. Here in this case the plaintiff has registered the trademark on his name and wherein the respondent who has been accused for infringement of his mark and using the same mark under their name. Since the mark which is registered is a common term and respondent herein seeks that that the trademark which has registered on the same of owner to be revoked and to be general term and the plaintiff has the sole monopoly on that name.

 Parties:

Vardhman Properties (Appellant) v. Vardhman Developers (Respondent)

Bench: JUSTICE S. RAVINDRA BHAT

Facts

In this case, the Vardhaman Properties filed a suit against the defendants for permanent injunction to restrain the defendant from using its name and trademark “VARDHAMAN GROUP” and “VARDHAMAN”. The plaintiff is involved in construction business in Delhi and NCR region. As per the plaintiff their associate companies fall under the title of “VARDHAMAN GROUP” and he has registered it under the Trademark Act, 1999. Since the plaintiff stated that he has widespread and well-established reputation and has submitted that unless an ad-interim injunction is granted his reputation and goodwill would be injured beyond repair, as the defendant would be free to use the trademark under their name which is leading to confusion among the public since both the companies deal in the same business. The defendant has entered into the real estate development business and started using the VARDHAMAN mark, being fully aware that the plaintiff is registered proprietor of such trademark. The use of word “VARDHAMAN” is infringing the statutory right of the plaintiff of their registered trademark. To this the defendants contended that the name “VARDHAMAN” is generic name or term since it is associated with the name of god in Jains and also contended that no one can claim exclusivity to such name and in such case it is widely used by 230 companies so here question of trademark can arise.

Vardhman Case

[Image Sources : Shutterstock]

Judgement

The plaintiff herein has established a prima facie case for grant of temporary injunctive relief sought by them. The defendant (Vardhman Developers) is hereby restrained from using the mark and word “VARDHMAN” in relation to their trade or corporate name or the services offered by it or on its behalf by anyone else.

Outcome Of The Case

Since here the defendants by using the name and mark of “VARDHMAN” in his service and business he has infringed the rights of the plaintiff who already owns a registered trademark over the same. The plaintiff has registered the their mark under class 36 since they offer services related to real estate, also same kind of service are offered by the defendant hence they cannot operate with the same mark that of the plaintiff. Also as per section 11(1) of the Trademark Act, 1999 an objection can be raised or the trademark can be refused if it’s identical with an earlier trade mark and similar to an earlier registered trademark. The plaintiff was also the prior user if the mark VARDHAMAN GROUP, they have relied on copies of annual reports of its company, for various years where the defendant has entered into the real estate development business later and started using the VARDHAMAN mark, fully aware that the plaintiff is registered proprietor of such trademark. The plaintiff had contended to Section 29 of the act, that they were the proprietors of the registered mark and the defendant by using such mark has infringed the rights of the plaintiff and on this the plaintiff has sought for temporary injunction against the defendant since use of such mark by them is causing damage to the business of the plaintiff. The court herein has relied on the judgement passed by division bench by SC in case of Midas Hygiene Industries P. Ltd. vs Sudhir Bhatia And Ors[i] (2004) such that, in cases of infringement either of Trade Mark or of Copyright normally an injunction must follow also the grant of injunction also becomes necessary if it prima facie appears that the adoption of the Mark was itself dishonest. Subsequently the court in this case granted temporary injunction and the defendants were restrained from using the same mark.

Conclusion

The court in this case held that the plaintiff has developed a prima facie for grant of temporary injunctive relief. The court restrained the defendant from using mark “VARDHMAN” in relation to their trade or business or any other kind of services offered by them. It is emphasized that by virtue of Section 29, there is no doubt about the fact that as registered trademark proprietor, the plaintiff should be protected from attempts by other traders and businesses, trying to ride on with the reputation of the plaintiff,  in respect of the mark, as well as the corporate name. It can be observed from the courts judgement that the similar trademarks can be registered in the same class if they are not similar business. There have to be certain modification or changes the mark applicant wishes to obtain or that is used by them.

Findings

  • Since using such similar marks may lead to confusion among the consumers.
  • Consumers may be misled if similar marks prevail in the same class.

Author: : Vaibhav Ramdas Misal is a 4th year student at Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

REFRENCES

[i]Midas Hygiene Industries P. Ltd. vs Sudhir Bhatia And Ors (2004) 3 SCC 90

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