In the recent case of Larsen & Toubro Ltd & another v/s Radheshyam Singh & another, a District Court in New Delhi restrained the defendant from using the marks which were deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s trademark since it amounted to infringement.
The main plaintiff was Larsen & Toubro Ltd an international technology, engineering, manufacturing, and construction company that had been using the marks Larsen & Toubro, L&T, LT, LT, LK since 1938. The marks Larsen & Toubro, LT and L&T were registered in India under the Trade Marks law. The second plaintiff company, General Industrial Controls Pvt Ltd, was the registered proprietor of (i)GIC/GIC in class 9 (computers and scientific devices). This mark was presented artistically through a unique and original combination of font style, colour, layout, etc. They also manufactured and packaged these products while the main plaintiff marketed them in India.
The defendants were engaged in selling, manufacturing, marketing, purveying, supplying, and soliciting the trade of various analogue time switches, electrical and electronic goods and other related products.
The plaintiffs came to know about the infringement in January 2017, when they found the impugned products were sold in local markets. The defendants were brandishing the marks – Larsen & Toubro, Larsen, Toubro, L&T, LT, LT, LK, and the (i)GIC/GIC on their products and claimed deceptive visual, phonetic, and structural similarity. Even the original artworks of the logo were copied by the defendants, thus infringing on the plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights.
The plaintiffs submitted that the defendants were not the proprietors of the impugned trademarks and used them without taking prior consent from the plaintiffs. They had no right to use the registered marks in any manner. They added that the defendants were trying to pass off their goods as that of the plaintiffs thereby, creating a likelihood of confusion among consumers. The defendants adopted and used the impugned trademarks with a dishonest and fraudulent intention and wanted to misuse the established goodwill and reputation of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed huge losses due to the infringement. To substantiate their case, the plaintiffs submitted several documents, namely – representation of the trademark of the plaintiff, counterfeit packaging/trademark of the defendants, trademark registration certificates of the plaintiff, amongst others.
The defendants did not represent their case in the court.
The court opined that since the plaintiffs were the registered proprietor of the impugned trademarks and the marks used by the defendants were deceptively identical, it amounted to infringement and passing off. Further the report of Local Commissioner, who was appointed by the Court, fructified the claim of the plaintiffs that the defendants were liable for infringement of the trademarks.
The defendants and persons involved in the illegal business with them were permanently restrained from using the trademarks Larsen & Toubro, L & T, LT, LT, LK and (i)GIC/GIC and any version of these marks. They were directed to compensate plaintiffs at INR 100,000. The courts could not gather the actual amount of financial damage to the plaintiffs due to non-appearance of the defendants, the relief based on rendition of accounts was declined.
This case was a prima facie case of infringement, the defendants were not the registered proprietors of the trademark and were using illegal copies of the plaintiffs’ marks for selling similar goods. The lack of representation from the defendants further proves their guilt. Brands should be wary of such infringers who may try to slip through the cracks. Larsen & Toubro is a reputed company with an international footing, yet infringers violated its IP rights. As a brand owner, it is your right to solely use your trademarks. If a third party abuses your authority and rights, you must take quick action and enforce them.
The case of Larsen & Toubro Ltd & Anr v/s Radheshyam Singh & Anr brings forth another incident of trademark infringement as decided by a Delhi court. Summarized by Simran Bhullar, this article was first published in Mondaq.