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Agatha Christie's Book "And Then There Were None" A Distinctive Mark : Delhi HC Directs Trademark Registration

Nupur Thapliyal
14 Dec 2021 1:13 PM GMT
Agatha Christies Book And Then There Were None A Distinctive Mark : Delhi HC Directs Trademark Registration
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Justice Harishankar observed at the outset that he heard the matter after disclosing that he was an "avowed aficionado and an admirer of Agatha Christie".

The Delhi High Court has quashed an order which has refused the registration of trademark to Agatha Christie Limited, a Company established in 1955 by famous book writer Agatha Christie, for one of her works "And There Were None". Justice C Hari Shankar set aside the order dated 14 January, 2021 rejecting the company's application seeking registration of trademark and remitted the matter back...

The Delhi High Court has quashed an order which has refused the registration of trademark to Agatha Christie Limited, a Company established in 1955 by famous book writer Agatha Christie, for one of her works "And There Were None".

Justice C Hari Shankar set aside the order dated 14 January, 2021 rejecting the company's application seeking registration of trademark and remitted the matter back to the office of the Registrar of Trade Marks. 

The Court passed the order with a direction to Registrar of Trade Marks that if the application does not suffer from any other fatal infirmity, the mark "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE" be registered under Classes 9, 16 and 41 of the Schedule to the Trademarks Rules, 2017.

"The right to register a mark under which one intends to provide good or services is a valuable right, partaking of the character of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. Any decision not to allow registration of a mark has, therefore, to be informed by reasons which should be apparent on the face of the decision. The impugned order, in my view, is bereft of sufficient reasons to justify the decision taken therein," the Court said.

Justice Hari Shankar began the order by mentioning that during the course of the hearing, he had asked the counsel appearing for the Registrar of Trademarks as to whether he had any objection to him hearing the matter as he was an "avowed aficionado and an admirer of Agatha Christie."

"He answers emphatically in the negative, asserting, in fact, that he, too, is one," the Court noted in the order.
It was the stand of the appellant that no mark, even remotely similar to "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE" was in use, regarding the goods and services in respect of which registration was sought.

The registration was refused on the ground that the trademark sought to be registered was not "distinctive". Observing that this was "ex facie" an unsustainable ground, Justice Harishankar observed :

"I fail, completely, to understand why "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE" is, by any reckoning, not a distinctive mark, when seen vis-a-vis the categories of services in respect of which its registration was being sought. The impugned order does not allege that the mark, or any mark deceptively similar thereto, was ever registered, or even in use in respect of goods or services identical or similar to the marks in respect of which registration was sought by the appellant. Nor could it be alleged that the mark "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE" was descriptive of the services in respect of which its registration was sought by the appellant."

The Court also said that there was no finding or observation in the impugned order, that the mark "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE" was not capable of being represented graphically or was incapable of distinguishing the services being provided by the appellant, from those provided or intended to be provided by others.

"In fact, the name being the title of the most well-known work of fiction written by Agatha Christie, it is also capable, prima facie, of creating an association between the name and the appellant, which is a company established by Agatha Christie herself. It can, therefore, legitimately be used in the context of services which the said company provides or intends to provide," the Court added.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order.

Title: AGATHA CHRISTIE LIMITED v. REGISTRAR OF TRADE MARKS

Click Here To Read Order 


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