DETTOL obtains favourable decision against DEVTOL in India

Manisha Singh and Omesh Puri bring news of an important decision in a lookalike case, following a hearing held by video conference by the Delhi High Court.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the significance of brands dealing with healthcare products such as medicines, soaps and hand sanitizers has increased greatly. As per WHO Guidelines, washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand rub are the recommended measures to protect against infections.

This has resulted in a huge demand for such goods which has also prompted infringers to take undue advantage of reputed brand owners by using either an identical or a deceptively similar mark for their products.

In one such instance, the Delhi High Court has passed a decree of permanent injunction against the use of the mark DEVTOL in a suit filed by Reckitt Benckiser asserting infringement of its well-known trade mark DETTOL.

The hearing on the injunction application was conducted by video conferencing. The suit was filed against the infringing mark and logo DEVTOL. The plaintiff’s and defendant’s marks are shown above.

During the hearing, the defendant agreed not to manufacture and/or sell the product i.e. hand sanitizer, under the infringing mark. It was also informed that the defendant had already asked its agents and dealers to withdraw the infringing product from the market.

Accordingly, the suit was decreed in favour of the plaintiff and the defendant was restrained from using the infringing mark and was directed to deposit a sum of Rs 1,00,000 (€1,175, $1,325) to the Juvenile Justice Fund.

During this crisis, the courts have recognized the importance of holding hearings through video conferencing. The Delhi High Court, which hears and adjudicates on a high number of IP suits, has been the most favoured forum to obtain relief against infringing products during this unprecedented time.

As in the present case, brand owners when faced with counterfeit/infringing products can approach the courts citing urgency and can seek relief in the form of injunction during this pandemic.

When the products are related to the healthcare industry, the urgent hearing through video conferencing against the infringers and counterfeiters could be obtained in order to prevent losses and damages but also because such goods may be detrimental to public health due to sub-standard quality.

Article by Manisha Singh and Omesh Puri, 1st published in MARQUES Class 46