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'Yoko' and 'Yokoso' May Have Different Meanings in Japanese, Doesn't Make Marks Dissimilar: Bombay High Court Grants Relief To Yoko Sizzlers

Sharmeen Hakim
24 Jan 2023 4:29 AM GMT
Yoko and Yokoso May Have Different Meanings in Japanese, Doesnt Make Marks Dissimilar: Bombay High Court Grants Relief To Yoko Sizzlers

The Bombay High Court has restrained a Pune-based restaurant from using the mark 'Yokoso Sizzlers', observing that prima facie it is deceptively similar to the registered trademark 'Yoko Sizzlers'.

Justice Manish Pitale granted interim relief to Yoko Sizzlers in an intellectual property rights suit filed by it against Yokoso Sizzlers.

"Merely because Yoko and Yokoso have different meanings in Japanese language, it would not amount to dissimilarity of the marks in question. Therefore, it is found that a strong prima facie case is made out on behalf of the plaintiff, for granting ad-interim relief. This Court is convinced that unless such relief is granted, the plaintiff will suffer grave and irreparable loss, thereby indicating that the balance of convenience also lies in favour of the plaintiff," the court said.

The court observed that a bare comparison between the two marks would show that the defendant merely added the ‘SO’ to the registered trademark.

“Hence, prima facie, the impugned mark of the defendant is found to be deceptively similar to the registered trade mark of the plaintiff.”

Significantly, the bench observed that Yokoso was trying to copy Yoko’s entire business idea. “…layout of the restaurant and table mats used therein, also prima facie, indicate the efforts on the part of the defendant to copy the business practices of the plaintiff, associated with the registered trade mark Yoko Sizzlers.”

Yoko Sizzlers, represented by Advocate Rashmin Khandekar, earlier submitted that the company has been in the hospitality business since 1986. The trademark was registered on June 16, 1994. He submitted the plaintiff was running outlets all over the country and has presence in the form of its outlets, internationally in various countries like UAE, UK and Qatar.

In August 2022, the plaintiff came across Yokoso restaurant at Pune. The defendant was also allegedly found to have copied Yoko’s website. While initially Yoko Sizzlers served the defendant with a cease and desist notice, the company subsequently approached the court on January 13 after receiving Yokoso’s response.

The court has listed the application for interim relief for further consideration on February 24.

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