Protecting the Reputation and Goodwill of Trademark Owners: The Dispute over “Khadi” Trademark

Protecting the Reputation and Goodwill of Trademark Owners: The Dispute over “Khadi” TrademarkRecently, the Delhi High Court granted an interim injunction order against defendants who were found to be Khadi Earth (word and logo) for the same class of goods in which the plaintiff had prior rights and despite protocol in place, the defendants did not seek any permission/certificate from the plaintiff.

The plaintiff, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a statutory body under the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act, 1956, was established for the promotion and development of textiles. The trademark “KHADI” was adopted in September 1956, registered across several classes and has been recognised as a well-known trademark by the Trademarks Registry. The plaintiff is the registered proprietor of the marks KHADI, its word and logo depictions. This mark has been in continuous use for cosmetics, food and grocery products, etc., which are sold via its website, online and offline retail outlets, exhibitions, third-party e-commerce websites, etc. Any person who wishes to sell products under KHADI trademarks had to obtain a valid certificate from the plaintiff.

The defendants were manufacturing and selling products bearing marks – Khadi Earth and through their website. One of the defendants has also applied for in class 3 on proposed to be used basis. A legal notice was addressed to the defendants to cease the use in November 2020. While no response was received from the defendants, however, product listings from the defendant’s website were pulled down. Subsequently, in July 2023, the plaintiff found domain names and, UDRP complaints against which were decided in the plaintiff’s favour.

In December 2023, the defendants were found to be selling cosmetic products on the website –, claiming to be the “best online Khadi store in India”, and also via e-commerce websites. Their products showed the impugned marks prominently.

The plaintiff’s counsel argued that impugned products showcased deceptively similar marks which incorporated the plaintiff’s registered KHADI trademark, thereby creating a false association in the minds of the customers.

The court conceded to the plaintiff’s argument and granted an ex-parte ad-interim injunction against the defendants, restraining them from manufacturing and selling any products bearing impugned marks, suspending their website, and removing online listings.

This order showcases that the Courts promptly recognise statutory and common law rights of the proprietor, and once a prima facie case is made out, the injunction order may follow to ensure that the owner/ proprietor doesn’t face loss to its reputation and goodwill, which sometimes cannot be monetarily compensated. There should be no likelihood of association/link between the defendant’s marks and the plaintiff’s mark, as any such association negates the mandatory principle that a trademark must be an identifying factor indicative of the source of goods and services.

Authors: Manisha Singh and Akanksha Kar

First Published By: Lexology Here