The Bombay High Court while dismissing an appeal filed against an order of a single bench in a commercial suit recently held that names of Hindu gods are not exclusive and cannot be monopolised by one party. A bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Bharti Dangre was hearing an appeal filed by Freudenberg Gala Household Product Pvt Ltd challenging the judgment of a single judge.
The company is in the business of manufacturing and marketing of household and industrial cleaning tools and products, namely mops, brooms, brushes.
A suit was filed against GEBI Products by Freudenberg Gala Household Product Pvt Ltd on August 24, 2015, and a notice of motion seeking interim relief was filed later. This notice of motion was dismissed by a single judge in 2016, leading to the company approaching the HC.
According to the plaintiff company, it came across in 2015 that brooms made by GEBI Products were identical to the plaintiff’s products, but had the mark Mahalaxmi on them.
According to the plaintiff’s argument, the said mark of the defendant is identical to the plaintiff’s mark Laxmi with addition of the word, Maha.
They further argued that the defendant had infringed upon the plaintiff’s trademark Laxmi as the defendant’s trademark was identical with or deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s registered trademark, which was in respect of the same goods — brooms.
Appearing for the defendant, advocate Rohan Cama, meanwhile, pointed to the order of dismissal of appeal and said the single judge had noted that ‘Laxmi’ was a very common name and that there were variations distinguishing the plaintiff’s mark from the defendant’s mark.
He said, “The names of Hindu gods are not exclusive and such words cannot be monopolised by one party. It is one thing to protect a label mark and an entirely different thing to claim monopoly over a common word.”
“Prima facie, we find substance in the submissions of the counsel appearing for the defendant that the names of Hindu gods are not exclusive and such word cannot be monopolized by one party. Claiming and protecting the label mark is different than to claim monopoly over a common word. We find that the learned single judge has considered these basic issues emerging from the matter while considering grant of interim relief. It is a matter of record that the plaintiff registered the trademark in 2003, whereas the defendant had applied for registration in 2014,” said Justice Naresh Patil.