Updated: January 23, 2021 12:14:42 am
THE two parties in the injunction suit against the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) use of trademark ‘Covishield’ for its vaccine, concluded their arguments on temporary injunction on Friday. The next hearing is scheduled on January 30, when an order is expected from the court.
The injunction has been sought in the Commercial Court in Pune by Cutis Biotech, a sole proprietorship concern headquartered in Nanded district, which is a pharmaceutical and medicinal products sales company. Cuits has claimed in the suit, filed on January 5, that it had applied for the ‘Covishield’ trademark on April 29 last year for their various sanitisation products before SII applied for the trademark in June.
Cutis had filed a similar suit at a court in Nanded on December 11 last year. However, their lawyer Aditya Ashok Soni submitted to the court on Friday that they have filed an application to the court in Nanded seeking withdrawal of the said suit. The SII, through its lawyer, had filed its reply to the suit on January 19. The case is being heard by the Commercial Court presided over by Judge AV Rotte.
Meanwhile, Cutis has sought a temporary injunction against the use of trademark Covishield by SII, till the time the suit for permanent injunction is decided.
Senior Advocate S K Jain, who is the attorney for SII, presented his arguments against the temporary injunction sought by Cutis. Speaking to The Indian Express, Jain said, “The plaintiff has claimed first use of the trademark and has said they applied for it in April last year. We have submitted to the court the information about labels of Covishield, which were printed in March last year as part of its development process by Serum Institute. We have told the court that the Cutis had applied for a vaccine trademark in December, when they do not even make vaccine. This information was suppressed and a fraud was committed upon the court. We have also pointed to the court, discrepancies in submission of papers regarding the suit in Nanded and also in submission of invoice of their sanitisation products.”
However, Advocate Soni refuted the allegation of suppression of information and fraud in court by citing a Supreme Court judgment, which says that a trademark registration application has no relevance in a case of trademark ‘passing off’. The ‘passing off’ is a concept under the Common Law system, which enforces unregistered trademark rights and protects the goodwill of a business from misrepresentation. Soni also cited High Court and Supreme Courts judgments ruling that actual damage was necessary to seek relief but likelihood of damage is sufficient.
Soni told The Indian Express, “Both sides have concluded the arguments on temporary injunction today. A ruling is expected on January 30, when the next hearing is scheduled. The suit for permanent injunction will continue.”
Cutis Biotech has said in its suit that it applied for the trademark Covishield on April 29 last year, after a thorough trademark search. The application is still pending. Since May 30 last year, the company started using the said trademark Covishield for products like disinfectants and sanitisers. The company has said that on December 7, they came across the news that SII has applied to the Drug Controller General of India for immediate approval for a vaccine named Covishield in India. Subsequent to that, the suppliers of the company started pulling back due to the name confusion, the suit claims. Cutis again conducted a trademark search and found that SII had applied for the same trademark on June 6 and also for some more names for their vaccine, after which it approached the court in Nanded.
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