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'Will Confuse Clients': Delhi High Court Grants Ad Interim Ex-Parte Injunction In Favour Of Law Firm Against Use Of Deceptively Similar Mark

Zeb Hasan
17 May 2022 1:42 PM GMT
Will Confuse Clients: Delhi High Court Grants Ad Interim Ex-Parte Injunction In Favour Of Law Firm Against Use Of Deceptively Similar Mark
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Delhi High Court recently granted ad-interim ex-parte injunction in favour of "Singh and Singh Law Firm LLP" against a company namely Singh and Singh Law, PLLC and two others, on grounds that the names are deceptively similar and can cause a confusion in the minds of clients in India and abroad.

Justice Jyoti Singh observed :

"Confusion amongst the clients can have undesirable ramifications for the Plaintiffs in case injunction is not granted. This Court is thus of the view that Plaintiffs have made out a prima facie case for grant of ex parte ad-interim injunction. Balance of convenience lies in favour of the Plaintiffs and they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in case the injunction, as prayed for, is not granted.."

Present suit was instituted by the Plaintiffs, aggrieved by the use of the name "Singh & Singh", "Singh & Singh Law", "Singh & Singh Law, PLLC" and other derivatives, by Defendants No. 1 to 3.

It was averred by the Plaintiffs that the name "Singh & Singh" was coined in the year 1997 by its founders and the mark has been used continuously and uninterruptedly by the Plaintiffs, ever since. They registered this trademark in 2005 as "Singh & Singh Advocates". Registration was sought in 2009 with respect to another mark "Singh & Singh". The trademarks were subsequently assigned to its current Proprietor/Plaintiff No.2 with effect from April, 2014. In 2011, the Plaintiff No.1's founder registered a Limited Liability Partnership by the name "Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP".

The Court was informed that Singh & Singh has been protected against misuse by this Court on two separate occasions in the past. In June, 2021 Plaintiffs instituted a suit for infringement and passing off against a Canadian Law Firm titled Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP & Another vs. Singh + Singh & Ors., and an interim injunction was granted by this Court against the Defendants.

In another suit filed for infringement of trademark and passing off, this Court by a detailed judgment held that the reputation of Singh & Singh was well-recognized and accordingly granted protection to the said mark. Court also recognized the fact that it was in the interest of clients also that the distinction between the legal service providers is maintained.

In March 2022, the plaintiff claims to have discovered that the name Singh & Singh was used on the website www.singhandsinghlaw.com by Defendant No. 1. It is alleged that Defendants No.1 and 3 have copied the name Singh & Singh and the corresponding logo for providing legal services. A bare look would indicate that the mark and the logo are identical. Defendants have used all capital letters like the Plaintiffs including the '&' (ampersand) in their name.

The defendants were also served a notice to cease all current and future use of "Singh & Singh" and any derivative, identical or similar mark/name/logo in connection with legal services but they have made it clear that they will continue to use it.

Court after hearing the submissions made by Counsel for plaintiff was of the prima facie opinion that the adoption of the identical name by Defendants No.1 to 3 is not bona fide and is with a view to ride over the formidable goodwill and reputation of the Plaintiffs.

In view of the above observation the court granted ad interim ex parte injunction in favour of the plaintiff.

Case Title: SINGH & SINGH LAW FIRM L.L.P & ANR. v. SINGH & SINGH LAW, PLLC & ORS.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 459

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