Questsfor personal gains have become so intense that those involved in litigation donot hesitate to take shelter of falsehood and misrepresent and suppress factsin the court proceedings. Materialism, opportunism and malicious intent haveovershadowed the old ethos of litigative values for small gains.
The Plaintiff, MittalElectronics, filed the suit before the Delhi High Courtalleging trademark infringement, passing off and other ancillary reliefs againstthe Defendants, Sujata Home Appliances (P) Ltd (SHAP) and Ors., and sought restrainorder against SHAP from using the mark SUJATA, STAR SUJATA, in relation totheir business.
Mittalin the plaint states:
They are the registered proprietor of themark SUJATA, adopted by their predecessors in the year 1980 and being used inrelation to electrical goods and home appliances such as Mixer, Grinder,Grater, Shredder, Chopper, etc. The mark is registered since 1991 in severalclasses including 7, 8, 9, 11 and 35. On becoming aware of SHAP’s use of anidentical mark SUJATA in relation to their business suit was filed. On thebasis of its registration and other materials placed by Mittal an ex-parteinjunction was granted restraining SHAP from using the mark SUJATA.
SHAPfiled application to modify the injunction on the following grounds:
1. Mittal has suppressedmaterial facts to obtain ex-parte injunction.
2. One of the Directors of SHAP,namely Rajesh Kumar Bansal, started business in the year 2008, trading as LuxmiEnterprises, a proprietorship firm and was manufacturing and selling waterpurifiers under the brand name ‘SUJATA’. Rajesh Kumar Bansal has obtainedtrademark registration in the year 2012 for the device mark ‘SUJATA’ in class11 in respect of water purifiers, RO system and water filters claiming usesince 2008. The said trademark is being used by SHAP under license from RajeshKumar Bansal.
3. Mittal is selling onlyjuicer, mixer, grinders and geysers and not dealing with water purifier, ROsystems or water filters for which SHAP’s use of the trademark ‘SUJATA’ isprior in time. This fact was concealed by Mittal for obtaining ex-parteinjunction.
4. SHAP seeks modification ofthe injunction order allowing them to use the mark SUJATA for water purifiers,water filters and RO systems.
I. Both parties are using thetrademark ‘SUJATA’ in relation to home and kitchen appliances which are alliedand cognate goods, having same trade channels and target customers. Hence, SHAP’scontention that the goods are different is not correct.
II. Mittal has registrationfor the mark ‘SUJATA’ in various classes including those relating to waterpurifiers, RO systems and water filters and is at liberty to use the same asand when it deems fit.
III. SHAP has not filed anyproceedings challenging Mittal’s registration and thus, estopped from allegingnon-use of the mark in relation to water purifiers and filters.
IV. Mittal adopted the mark’SUJATA’ in the year 1980 and the first registration is of the year 1991,whereas, SHAP’s claim of user is only 2008 and the invoice on record is ofJune, 2013. Adoption of an identical mark is dishonest. Mittal has filedrectification petition to cancel Rajesh Bansal’s registration for the mark SUJATAand in view of prior adoption, injunction granted is justified.
A. Mittal is not manufacturingor selling water purifiers, water filters or RO systems and only deal withjuicer, mixer, grinder, etc.
B. Mittal has not opposed theregistration of the SUJATA mark for water purifiers and filters. The avermentthat Mittal was not aware of the aforesaid registration is not sustainable.
C. SHAP’s prior use andexclusivity of the use of the mark ‘SUJATA’ in relation to water purifier,water filter and RO system is irrefutable and even now Mittal is not dealingwith the aforesaid products.
The court after considering the pleadings,arguments and case laws held:
· Registration of thetrademark is a prima facie evidence of its validity. SHAP has filed documentsto show that since 2013, earlier as Luxmi Enterprises and even now they are sellingwater purifiers, RO system and water filters. On the other hand there are nodocuments on record to show Mittal deals with water purifiers, RO systems andwater filters.
· Mittal’s prior knowledgeof registration for the mark SUJATA in the name of one Rajesh Bansal trading asLuxmi Enterprises is evident from the documents on record. Mittal’s plea thatdespite due diligence there was no way to ascertain that Rajesh Bansal who isthe registered proprietor of the trademark ‘SUJATA’ for water purifiers, waterfilters and RO system is the Director of SHAP is not sustainable. Consideringthat Rajesh Kumar Bansal is one of the Directors of SHAP was sufficient for Mittalto have carried out further investigation and ascertain whether it was the sameperson in whose favour registration of the mark ‘SUJATA’ has been granted.
· Mittal in the prayerclause has sought to injunct geysers, water purifiers, RO systems, etc, though tilldate they have neither manufactured nor sold water filters, water purifiers andRO system, nor is there pleadings in respect of its use of the trade markSUJATA qua water purifiers, RO Systems and water filters. Thus, it is a case ofclever drafting and shows the oblique manner in which the injunction was sought.
· In the present casedespite the fact that SHAP is selling its water filters, water purifiers and ROSystems under the mark ‘SUJATA’ at least since 2013, there is no material thatany customer was deceived into buying SHAP’s product as that of Mittal.
Inview of the above the Court modified the injunction granted earlier and allowedSHAP to use the mark SUJATA for water filters, water purifiers and RO Systemsand also released the goods seized by the Local commissioner.