Family feud over the mark ‘Kwality’

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Co authored by Ms. Shristi Bansal, LexOrbis Associate and Ms. Indrani Das, Final Year, LLB, Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi. 

The profitability, sustainability and viability of any business venture cannot be exclusively gauged on the basis of the pecuniary profit it makes. The various assets owned by a business entity play a pivotal role in enhancing its net worth. In today’s day and age, intellectual property has become such an asset which has carved out a special niche for itself in deciding the fate of a business entity. Intellectual Property (IP) can, literally, make or break a company. Hence, protection of intellectual property rights is inevitable for the efficient running and incessant existence of every business organization.

Feuds amidst business corporations over IP rights are not something that is unheard of. Also, there have been cases where business partners or founder families of business entities indulge in conflicts relating to ownership and protection of intellectual property rights. After Vadilal, another iconic ice-cream brand is seeing a meltdown in relations between the families of its founders; latest to join this bandwagon of disputes is popular ice-cream giant ‘Kwality’[1].

The partners behind the popular brand ‘Kwality’ are said to be entangled in an IP dispute where it has been alleged by one of the partners (Complainant) that the other (Defendant) has unlawfully sold the copyright in the artistic works of the word ‘Kwality’ to a Delhi based dairy firm (the firm) for milk and non-alcoholic beverages. According to the complainant, the rights over trademarks vested with him and the Defendant was given only limited rights to use the said trade mark for ice-creams and ice-lollies.

It is further stated that the said partners began by selling handmade ice-cream under the `Kwality’ brand in pre-Independence and later opened iconic fine dining chains under the ‘Gaylord’ and ‘Kwality’ brands in India and internationally. The Defendant owned the territorial rights for the brand in the northern region, while the territorial rights for south and east were given to two other individuals. These rights were restricted to manufacturing ice cream and ice cream on sticks for the respective territories.

The Delhi High Court has passed ad interim injunction, in favor of the Complainant directing the Defendant and the firm to not to use the brand till next order.

 

[1]“Kwality mired in feud among founder families over intellectual property”, Available at http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-01-04/news/69511921_1_kwality-ltd-ice-cream-brand-ice-cream

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