Contumacious Disobedience Against The Famous Brand HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA

In a recent case of Haldiram India Pvt. Ltd vs. M/S Nandipat Enterprises & Anr. an order was passed by the Delhi High Court keeping in mind the reputation and goodwill of the popular brand “HALDIRAM’S“. The factual matrix and background of the case is that the Plaintiff had initially filed the present suit seeking a permanent injunction against the Defendants from infringing its registered trademarks viz. “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” and 1377954a.jpg as well as the copyrights of the Plaintiff, passing off their goods as those of the Plaintiff and for other ancillary reliefs, as the Plaintiff is the registered proprietor of the trademarks “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA“/ “HALDIRAM’S” in respect of edible articles of human consumption. In March 2023, the plaintiff became aware that its registered marks were being used in conjunction with 137795b.jpg logo by the Defendants. In this regard, the plaintiff filed the suit wherein the Court restrained the Defendants from using and infringing the plaintiff’s registered trademarks and copyright. Further, on May 19, 2023, the Defendants reached out to the Plaintiff to settle the matter. However, it was during this time that the plaintiff learnt that the Defendant No. 1, operating in Bihar under a Super Stockiest/Distributorship Agreement with the Defendant No. 2, i.e., Mr. Ashok Aggarwal, was using the said trademarks and copyright of the Plaintiff for its own products instead for the pre-packaged products of the Defendant No. 1 as per their agreement. Further, the attention of the Court was brought to the Settlement Agreement dated May 3, 2016, entered into between the Plaintiff and Defendant No. 2, wherein the Defendant No. 2 was only permitted to sell packaged goods manufactured by it using the Plaintiff’s marks. The Plaintiff’s marks were also being used on the packaging of the products manufactured by Defendant No. 1 as well as on its restaurants. Thus, a prima facie case was made out by the Plaintiff wherein the Court was convinced that the “balance of convenience” lies in favour of the Plaintiff and irreparable harm would be caused to the Plaintiff as well as the public at large. Further, despite reminders, the Defendants failed to appear in front of the Court. In view of the above, on June 1, 2023, this Court granted an interim injunction in favour of the Plaintiff and against the Defendants.

Further, the application was filed by the Plaintiff under Order XXXIX Rule 2A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC), to inform the Court that Defendant No. 1, i.e., Nandipat Enterprises, was wilfully and deliberately violating the above-mentioned injunction order passed by this Court. The Plaintiff alleged that Defendant No. 1 in violation of the Settlement Agreement dated May 3, 2016, had started manufacturing its own pre-packaged food items and sold it with the label “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” alongside the 1377954b.jpg logo. The packaging as sold by Defendant No. 1 was depicted 1377954c.jpg as and 1377954d.jpg, wherein the mark “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” was clearly depicted. These items were also sold on food delivery apps such as Swiggy. Further, the Court also reiterated that the Settlement Agreement dated May 1, 2016, was also very clear that Defendant No. 1 is only permitted to use the marks “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA“, 1377954a.jpg and 13779454a.jpg logo for pre-packaged food items manufactured by Defendant No. 2. The Court held that the misuse of the above-mentioned marks of the Plaintiff whether in violation of the Settlement Agreement or in violation of the injunction earlier order passed by this Court, would amount to contempt. It was also held that the mere permission given to Defendant No. 1 to sell pre-packaged items manufactured by Defendant No. 1 does not permit it to confuse the public and pass off it goods as the original products of the plaintiff. The Court also stated that “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” is an extremely popular brand for sweets, namkeen and other snack items and thus, the snacks sold by Defendant No. 1 were misleading to the public at large as though the said items were Plaintiff’s original “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” products. In addition to this, it was also alleged that Defendant No. 1 was using the logo and the name “HALDIRAM BHUJIAWALA” on the billboards outside its restaurant in Bihar. In view of the above, the Court appointed a Local Commissioner to immediately visit and inspect the premises of Defendant No. 1 and directed the following:

  1. to seize all the products of the Defendant No. 1 manufactured by Defendant No. 1 and which were not the pre-packaged products of Defendant No. 2, bearing the Plaintiff’s marks and logos.
  2. to ensure that there are no billboards, display boards, menu cards, carry bags, or any other stationery or material bearing the Plaintiff’s marks and logos.
  3. obtain the details since when the Defendants sold infringing products post the injunction order dated June 1, 2023, and obtain copies of their accounts.
  4. after preparation of the inventory found at Defendant No. 1’s premises, the Local Commissioner shall seal the same. If the Defendants wish to remove any food items in the infringing packaging, the same shall be permitted to be removed from the packets and handed over to the Defendant No.1.
  5. the local SHO of the area was instructed to extend complete assistance to the Local Commissioner in the matter.

It was also clarified that the Defendant No. 1 was free to distribute pre-packaged goods of Defendant No. 2. Further, the listing of the products manufactured by Defendant No. 1 by itself under Plaintiff’s marks on the food delivery apps was directed to be taken down with immediate effect. Further, the Court also clarified that if the Defendant No. 2 wants to advertise itself as the authorised distributor of Defendant No. 1, it may do so in its outlets on the shelf where snack products are stored to mitigate any confusion in the minds of the public. The matter is yet to be finally decided by the court.