On December 4, 2023, the Delhi High Court issued a significant ruling concerning trademark infringement and unfair competition in the case of Cable News Network Inc. vs City News Network & Ors. This case highlighted the nuances of trademark law and the ramifications of non-compliance in the digital era.
The plaintiff, owner of the registered “CNN” trademarks for news services since 1989, asserted claims against the two Defendants. Defendant 2’s matter was resolved through court-sponsored mediation, culminating in a settlement agreement dated August 3, 2023. Under this agreement, Defendant 2 acknowledged the plaintiff’s ownership of the well-known CNN trademarks and agreed to refrain from using similar marks or actions that could cause confusion. The Court approved this settlement as lawful and concluded the dispute between the plaintiff and defendant 2, also ordering a 50% refund of court fees paid by the plaintiff for this matter.
Defendant 1 chose not to participate in the legal proceedings, filing no written response or appearing before the Court. The Court examined the plaintiff’s assertions and found Defendant 1, operating from Lucknow, using identical marks and for news services, thereby encroaching upon the plaintiff’s registered trademarks and ‘CNN’.
The Court’s analysis established Defendant 1’s use of identical marks for similar services violated the Trade Marks Act of 1999 by causing a likelihood of consumer confusion between Plaintiff and Defendant 1’s services. As a result, the Court issued a permanent injunction against Defendant 1, mandating the removal of specified websites and social media pages using the infringing marks. Additionally, Defendant 1 was directed to pay costs of INR 7 lakhs to the plaintiff, approximately 50% of the plaintiff’s litigation expenses.
This legal saga serves as a testament to the significance of safeguarding trademarks in an era of digital proliferation. It elucidates the Courts’ commitment to upholding intellectual property rights and maintaining the integrity of established, well-known trademarks. The case also underscores the legal recourse available to protect against trademark infringement and passing off, ensuring fair competition and consumer clarity in the marketplace.
As intellectual property laws continue to evolve, this case sets a precedent, reinforcing the need for stringent enforcement to safeguard trademarks and prevent unauthorised use, thereby fostering an environment conducive to innovation and fair competition.
Authors: Manisha Singh and Ritika Agarwal
First published by Lexology Here