Veer Ji Malai Chaap Trademark Suit: Delhi High Court Holds Restaurant Owner Guilty Of ‘Subverting’ Injunction By Tweaking Name
6 Nov 2023 7:00 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has held a Meerut based restaurant owner guilty of disobeying a last court order which restrained him from having any online listing on Zomato or Swiggy using the name “Veer Ji Malai Chaap Wale” by “subverting” the injunction and using a different name “Veer Di Malai Chaap Wale.”
“There was a specific direction to the defendant to remove the online listings from Zomato and Swiggy using the id VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE. The defendant has, while removing the said id, engineered a stratagem by which orders can be placed on the same outlet using the new id VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE though no such outlet bearing the said name is present at the address,” Justice C Hari Shankar observed.
In October last year, the court had passed an interim order directing Ankit Kumar, the restaurant owner, to remove the online listing of his two restaurants in Meerut within a month using the name “VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE.”
This was after a trademark infringement suit was filed by Veerji Restaurant Private Limited. Kumar was also restrained from opening any further outlets under the name or logo VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE.
An application was filed by Veerji Restaurant alleging that Kumar disobeyed last year’s order by referring to two invoices which reflected the name of his restaurants as “VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE” on which order was placed.
The counsel appearing for Kumar submitted that there were no physical outlets with the name VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE and that the outlets available were VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE, which are continuing as there was no injunction against the continuing of existing outlets.
However, the court said that Kumar’s counsel had no answer as to why orders were placed through Zomato on outlets with name VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE reflecting the names of the outlets on the invoices as VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE.
“It is simple logic that, if the name of the outlets….are, in fact, VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE, it cannot be reflected on the invoice of Zomato as VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE,” the court said.
Justice Shankar said that prima facie, Kumar had devised an “ingenious method” to subvert the judicial order and that it is worse than contempt as it amounts to fraud on the court.
“To my mind, the defendant has played a calculated fraud on the Court with a view to nullify direction (iii), passed by this Court in para 21 of the Order dated 19 October 2022. There was a specific direction to the defendant to remove the online listings from Zomato and Swiggy using the id VEER JI MALAI CHAAP WALE. The defendant has, while removing the said id, engineered a stratagem by which orders can be placed on the same outlet using the new id VEER DI MALAI CHAAP WALE though no such outlet bearing the said name is present at the address,” the court said.
Observing that Kumar did a subversion of process of justice and a calculated attempt at disobeying the judicial order, the court directed him to place on record details of the entire amounts that have been earned by him through the orders placed on the outlets.
“Defendant 1 is also directed to file an affidavit as to why the Court should not proceed to pass sentence on him for having disobeyed the orders passed by this Court in a calculated fashion,” the court said while listing the matter for hearing on December 07.
Counsel for Plaintiff: Advocate Nishant Mahtta
Counsel for Defendant: Advocate Shekhar Aggarwal
Title: VEERJI RESTAURANT PRIVATE LIMITED v. ANKIT KUMAR & ORS.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 1070