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Scotch Whisky in Supreme Court

Khoday India manufactures whisky under the mark ‘Peter Scot’.

Written by Solijsorabjee |
July 6, 2008 12:56:26 am

Khoday India manufactures whisky under the mark ‘Peter Scot’. One Peter Warren, an employee of Khoday, explained that the brand name ‘Peter Scot’ was coined primarily with his father in mind i.e. using his forename, ‘Peter’, and his nationality, ‘Scot’. Another factor was the internationally known British explorer, Captain Scott, and his son Peter Scott, who is widely known as an artist, naturalist and Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund. Although the name ‘Scott’ is spelt with two ‘t’s, it is phonetically the same as ‘Scot’. The Scotch Whisky Association & others initiated legal proceedings against Khoday inter alia for passing off of the mark, Peter Scot. One of their contentions was that some customers were deceived into thinking that Peter Scot brand whisky is also a Scotch whisky. Khodays lost in the High Court, but succeeded in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in its recent judgment elaborately considered the tests applied by courts in England, Australia and USA regarding deceptive similarity of goods. The Court also referred to a passage in Kerly’s classic book on trademark and ruled that “if the goods are expensive and not of a kind usually selected without deliberation and the customers are generally educated persons which are all matters to be considered”. It held that “where the class of buyers is educated and rich, the test to be applied is different where the product would be purchased by the villagers, the illiterate and the poor”. The Court concluded that it was concerned with the class of buyers who are supposed to know the value of money, the quality and content of Scotch whisky and the difference in the process of manufacture, the place of manufacture and their origin. Applying these tests the Court decided in favour of Khodays. One wonders whether ordinary consumers of Scotch whisky, including judges who are not teetotalers, are really aware of these factors. The decisive test is the taste of the beverage. But that alas can be only after the bottle is purchased and its contents are savoured.

Unknown Chupe Rustam Queen Victoria

The British media blatantly violated the privacy of Princes Diana during her lifetime and also after her tragic death with focus on her sex life. Now the spotlight is on Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, a puritanical personality, associated in the public mind with exacting rectitude. A recent documentary, Queen Victoria’s Men, portrays her in a different light. The film narrates her relationship inter alia with important men in her life including two prime ministers, Lord Melbourne and Benjamin Disraeli.

Surprisingly, one person the Queen was particularly fond of was an Indian khidmatgar, Abdul Karim, who taught her Hindi and Urdu and is said to have discussed Indian philosophy with her. Thereafter, Abdul Karim’s career changed dramatically. From the servant’s quarters he was installed as a member of the royal household and stayed in a cottage in the palace grounds. Understandably, there was great resentment in other members of the royal household, but the Queen was not bothered. She wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne, to make a substantial land grant in India to her trusted Karim and went to the extent of requesting the Viceroy that when he visited Agra he should see Dr Wuzeeredin, Karim’s father, and tell him how satisfied she was with his son. The Viceroy was bewildered and after shelving the Queen’s request for some time ultimately acceded to his sovereign wishes. It turns out that Karim had lied to Victoria about his family, claiming that his father was a medical practitioner in Agra. When this was pointed out to the Queen, she dismissed these allegations by the remark, “you British”.

Abdul Karim, though a liar, was different from contemporary members of the royal household who have revealed intimate details about Princes Diana. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Abdul Karim burnt all his papers and never spoke a word about his benefactor until he died in 1909.

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