Updated: July 30, 2021 5:14:56 pm
In a relief for the popular ice cream brand ‘Naturals’, the Bombay High Court has restrained a Gujarat-based firm with a similar name from using the word “natural” for its ice cream or any other related product until further orders.
A single-judge bench of Justice Gautam S Patel on July 26 was hearing an interim application in a commercial intellectual property (IP) suit filed by Raghunandan Kamath promoted firms Siddhant Icecreams LLP and Kamaths Ourtimes Icecreams Pvt Ltd against Manjalpur (Vadodara) based ‘Natural Ice Cream’.
The plea sought to restrain the defendant Gujarat-based company for using the same trade name for their products and seeking nearly Rs.150 crore damage compensation for infringing its trademark.
Senior Counsel Viraag Tulzapurkar and advocate Hiren Kamod representing Siddhant Ice-creams and other plaintiffs submitted that it is in the business of manufacturing, selling, and distributing ice cream and related products through branded ice cream parlors under ‘Natural’ family of brands.
The plaintiff Raghunandan Kamath submitted he adopted the mark NATURAL in 1984 and then began using it to vend ice cream products through his then proprietary concern, “M/s Natural Ice cream”.
As per court order, the plaintiff company had sold nearly 48 lakh kilos of ice cream under the Natural family of Marks and had a cumulative turnover of Rs. 312.7 crore during the same period.
The plaintiffs submitted that it is a popular mark with a large reputation that is uniquely associated with them and the company has 130 franchises across the country.
Senior Counsel Tulzapurkar said that by using the mark ‘ Natural,’ which is identical and bears resemblance to the Natural Family Marks (plaintiffs), the defendants are misrepresenting their goods/ services, causing confusion or deception for the trade, public, and consumers.
The defendant Vadodara-based company and its proprietor Sanman Patel opposed the claims made by the plaintiffs.
After hearing submissions, Justice Patel observed, “There is a prima facie case by the Plaintiffs against the named defendants. Clearly, the second defendant (Sanman Patel) has no independent right to use the ‘Natural’ mark. Even if the legend on his signage is to be accepted, his use is only ‘since 1992’. The Plaintiffs are registered proprietors with use that can be traced back to 1984. There is no question that the plaintiffs have made out a sufficient prima facie case and the balance of convenience is with them.”
Granting an interim relief to Kamaths, the bench passed an injunction order and restrained defendants from using ‘ from using or infringing ‘Natural’ Family registered marks for their products or as business/trading name or other similar names through any mediums till September 9.
The Court also asked the defendants to file an affidavit in reply by August 6 and a rejoinder by the plaintiff by August 13. HC is likely to hear the matter next on August 17.
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