In a trademark infringement suit filed by Meta (formerly known as Facebook), the Delhi High Court has permanently restrained the use of marks namely 'facebake' and 'facecake', Facebook marks, Facebook Visual Presentation and any other 'Facebook‟ formative trademarks of the social media giant.
Justice Navin Chawla also awarded nominal damages of Rs.50,000 in favour of Meta Platforms Inc. and against the defendants. The Court also directed the defendants to pay cost of the suit to Meta.
Meta moved the Court after being aggrieved over the adoption of the mark "Facebake" by the defendant no.1, namely Noufel Malol, which was allegedly mimicking the visual presentation by copying the colour scheme, font, commercial impression, and overall look and feel of Facebook, and thus was intentionally trading off the significant goodwill established in "Facebook‟ marks.
It was Meta's case that the aforesaid activity came into its knowledge when it came across the advertisement of the application in the Trade Marks Journal filed by the defendant no. 1 seeking registration of its mark "Facebake‟.
The plaintiff had also filed an opposition against the said application, claiming that the use of the similar mark by the defendants was an infringement of its statutory as well as common law rights as also results in passing off, dilution and unfair competition by the defendants.
The plaintiff also claimed that that on service of the ad-interim order of injunction, Facebake mark was changed to Facecake which was equally deceptively-similar to the Meta's "Facebook‟ marks.
The Court was of the view that it cannot be disputed that the marks of Meta were well-known in India and that its user base and reach were evident from the documents filed by it.
"The plaintiff also has obtained registrations of its marks for various classes of goods and the use of a similar mark without due cause would certainly amount to unfair competition, which is detrimental to the distinct character and reputation of the plaintiff‟s „Facebook‟ marks," the Court observed.
The Court was of the view that though there was some distinction between the marks of the plaintiff and of the defendants, however, the overall visual representation adopted by the defendants, clearly depicted the mala fide intent of the defendants in obtaining unfair advantage by the use of the mark similar to that of Meta. The Court added that the same also leads to the dilution of Meta's mark.
"It can lead to an unwary consumer being at least interested in taking note of the defendants as having some kind of connection with the plaintiff. The mala fide intent of the defendants is also evident from the fact that upon the knowledge of the ad-interim injunction passed by this Court, the defendants changed the mark from „facebake‟ to „facecake‟ thereby changing only one alphabet, however, chose not to appear before this Court to defend the suit in spite of service," it added.
Case Title: META PLATFORMS, INC. v. NOUFEL MALOL & ANR
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 635