The Bombay High Court last Friday granted an ad-interim injunction against an apparel company using the trade name ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd after hearing a commercial suit filed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) alleging infringement of their trade mark.
Justice BP Colabawalla concluded that the adoption of the ISKCON trade name was "deliberate with a view to trade upon the enviable reputation and goodwill acquired by the Plaintiff in the said ISKCON marks."
Plaintiff is a religious organization founded by the Late Acharya AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada around the year 1966, when he started Krishna Consciousness Movement in the name and style of "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" (ISKCON) in New York.
Advocate Hiren Kamod appeared on behalf of the plaintiff along with Advocates Vaibhav Keni and Neha Iyer of Legasis Partners. None appeared for the defendants.
Plaintiffs alleged that they discovered the defendant's website in the second week of February. Although defendant number 1 was carrying on business of manufacturing of clothing, textiles, garments, clothing accessories, etc. under the trading name ISKCON Apparel Private Limited, another website was discovered. Thereafter, the plaintiff realized that the defendant may have changed its name from Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd. to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. but is still using the expression "formerly known as Iskcon Apparel Pvt Ltd".
Advocate Kamod argued that ISKCON has acquired an enviable and longstanding reputation and goodwill throughout India and worldwide. Plaintiff's said ISCKON marks are inherently distinctive and deserve the highest degree of protection. Also, in the absence of any authorization from the plaintiff, the defendants cannot use the mark ISKCON as a part of their trading name including using the expression "Formerly known as Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd." as it would lead people to believe that the defendants are somehow associated with the plaintiff.
After going through the material placed on record, Justice Colabawalla observed-
"Prima facie, there is no manner of doubt that the Defendants' impugned trading name is identical and/or in any event deceptively similar to the Plaintiff's ISKCON marks. Assuming that the name of the Defendant No.1 has changed to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. (Defendant No.2), the use of the expression "Formerly known as Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd" on its website amounts to infringement of the Plaintiff's trademarks and passing off considering the registrations secured and reputation acquired by the Plaintiff in the said ISKCON marks.
In any event, if the name of the Defendant No.1 has changed from Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. (Defendant No.2), no prejudice would be caused to the Defendants, if the Defendants are injuncted from using the term "Formerly known as Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd."
In the circumstances, the Plaintiff has made out a strong prima facie case. Unless reliefs as prayed for are granted, the Plaintiff is likely to suffer injury. The balance of convenience is in favour of the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs are also likely to suffer irreparable injury if the Defendants' acts of infringement and passing off continue."
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