Bombay High Court heard an appeal against the order of the Ad-hoc District Judge-6, Pune, in a trademark infringement and passing off dispute, dismissing the injunction application filed by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff, Sharmilee Kapur and Ors (SK) filed the suit before the District court against the Defendant, Kiran Bharekar (Kiran) alleging trademark infringement.
SK, registered proprietor of the mark ‘Atmantan-be transformed’ in Class 44 filed the action to restrain Kiran from using the mark ‘Tanman’ in relation to their business of providing Ayurvedic medicines and research centre. The court after hearing the parties held the marks to be different. Aggrieved by the dismissal of the injunction application by the District court SK filed the appeal before the Bombay High Court.
Grounds of Appeal by SK:
- SK is the registered proprietor and owner of the trademark “Atmantan-be transformed” and running a Luxury Wellness destination. It deals in human health, hygiene, beauty care and hospitality providing health, medical, spa services and well known for their high degree of professional management and quality of unmatched services.
- The mark/name of their wellness resort is an amalgamation of concepts of atma (soul), mana (mind) and tan (body). They have Doctors and experts in Ayurveda, Indian Naturopathy, Chinese Medicine, Energy Healing, Fitness, Physiotherapy, etc, and won several awards due to their hard work, dedication and unmatched standards.
- SK owns registration of the mark “atmantan be transformed” in Class 44.
- Kiran has filed application for registration of the mark ‘TanMan’ in Class 44 which is deceptively similar and almost identical to ‘Atmantan be transformed’.
- TanMan” is a mere re-arrangement of the mark ‘Atmantan be transformed”. Adoption and use of the mark ‘Tanman’ amounts to infringement of the registered mark and is creating confusion among the customers and the public at large.
Kiran filed counter stating:
- There is neither infringement nor passing off.
- The averments in the suit are silent with regard to the details of the alleged infringement or passing off or the deception and confusion being played upon the customers and general public.
- They have never engaged in any activities amounting infringement of SK’s mark or any other person.
- The rival marks, ‘Atmantan be transformed’ and ‘Tanman’ do not bear any resemblance and there is no reason for confusion among the trade and public.
- SK is running a wellness resort and spa centre under the mark ‘Atmantan be transformed’, whereas, Kiran is running an “Ayurvedic Research/Treatment Centre” and thus, business activities of the parties are entirely different.
- ‘Tanman’ is a coined word adopted from ‘Tanmana Muni’ who brought Ayurveda from the Gods to human health and Kiran’s Ayurvedic Treatment Centre is named after him.
The High Court after considering the pleadings and arguments made the following observations:
- In appeal, Court without going into the minute details of the merits of the case, is basically required to be seen whether the impugned order warrants interference, i.e., whether the learned District Judge has rightly exercised his discretion by refusing to grant equitable relief to the appellants.
In the instant case, the rival marks, “Atmantan be transformed” and ‘Tanman’ do not bear any resemblance oral, visual or any other kind of similarity. Therefore, it would be too hard to infer that a reasonable person would get confused or deceived.
- The marks are visually, structurally and phonetically different. Moreover, SK has not quoted any instance as to how and when the customers or clients were in fact confused by the rival trademarks.
- Admittedly, Kiran offers Ayurvedic treatment and carries out research in the field of Ayurvedic science under the brand name “Tanman, whereas, SK is running a resort and spa services under the name viz.; “Atmantan be transformed”. Thus, customers availing the services of the party also differ.
In light of the above findings the court held that no case is made out for interference with the impugned order passed by the trial court and accordingly dismissed the appeal filed by SK.