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Delhi HC Verdict on ‘Rooh Afza’ Trademark

Context:

Recently, the Delhi High Court, in the case of Hamdard National Foundation (India) vs Sadar Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., restrained Sadar Laboratories from manufacturing and selling beverages under the impugned trademark ‘Dil Afza’. The court observed that the trademark ‘Rooh Afza’ is prima facie a strong mark requiring a high degree of protection as it has acquired immense goodwill.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a trademark?
  2. What is the dispute?
  3. Court’s verdict
  4. About Intellectual Property Right

What is a trademark?

  • A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by a business organisation to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
  • It serves as a badge of origin exclusively identifying a particular business as a source of goods or services.
  • Trademark infringement is the unauthorised usage of a sign that is identical or deceptively similar to a registered trademark.
What is a strong trademark?
  • A mark is said to be strong when it is well-known and has acquired a high degree of goodwill.
  • The degree of the protection of any trademark changes with the strength of the mark; the stronger the mark, the higher the requirement to protect it.
    • Rooh Afza requires more protection as it is more likely to be subjected to piracy by those who seek to draw an undue advantage of its goodwill.

What is the dispute?

  • The manufacturers of ‘Rooh Afza’ moved an appeal against the rejection of its application seeking an interim injunction against Sadar Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. for their product ‘Dil Afza’. The appellant stated before the court that the trademark ‘Rooh Afza’ is a highly reputed mark in the market with regard to sharbat (sweet beverage).
  • Furthermore, it was claimed that the design of the product ‘Dil Afza’ is deceptively similar to the get-up and trade dress of the appellant’s product.

Court’s verdict

  • A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court restrained the respondent (Sadar Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.) from manufacturing and selling any product under the trademark ‘Dil Afza’ till the final disposal of the trademark infringement suit.
  • The court held that “it is not difficult to conceive that a person who looks at the label of ‘Dil Afza’ may recall the label of ‘Rooh Afza’ as the word ‘Afza’ is common and the meaning of the words ‘Rooh’ and ‘Dil’, when translated in English, are commonly used in conjunction.

About Intellectual Property Right

  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
  • Intellectual property right (IPR) is the right given to persons over the creations of their minds: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
  • They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.
  • These rights are outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.
Protection
  • IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.
  • By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.
Where was intellectual property first recognized?
  • The importance of intellectual property was first recognized in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886).
  • Both treaties are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Intellectual property rights can be divided into two main sections:

Copyright and rights related to copyright:
  • The rights of authors of literary and artistic works are protected by copyright.
  • These works are books and other writings, paintings, sculptures.
  • Even computer programs, films and music are included.
  • It is valid for a minimum period of 50 years after the death of the author.
Industrial property: It can be divided into 2 main sections-

Related to signs- trademarks and geographical indications.

Trademark:

  • A trademark is a symbol, phrase, or insignia that is recognizable and represents a product that legally separates it from other products.
  • A trademark is exclusively assigned to a company, meaning the company owns the trademark so that no others may use or copy it. A trademark is often associated with a company’s brand.

Geographical Indications

  • Geographical Indications (GIs) recognize a good as originating in a place.
  • Some specific characteristics of the good is related to its geographical origin.
  • The protection may last indefinitely.
  • The only point is that the sign-in question should continue to be unique and distinctive.
Industrial designs and trade secrets-
  • Some types of industrial property are protected primarily for innovation and design.
  • Also, protection of particular technology should be also included.
  • Inventions (protected by patents), industrial designs and trade secrets are essential examples of this category.
  • trade secret is a company’s process or practice that is not public information, which provides an economic benefit or advantage to the company or holder of the trade secret.
    • Trade secrets must be actively protected by the company and are typically the result of a company’s research and development.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


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