Trademark Infringement: H&M or HM?

fashion-1472367Amidst the multiplicity of IP disputes, this is yet another classic case of a multinational corporation’s dispute against an Indian company. Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), which has taken the Indian fashion industry by a storm, has sent a legal notice to HM Mega Brands, a Mumbai based retailer for trademark violation. H&M contends that using the acronym ‘HM’ is confusingly similar and therefore amounts to trademark infringement. Meanwhile, HM Mega Brands states that the name has been uniquely been used by them since they are derived from the names of the founders – Hashim Merchant and his brother Hamza Merchant.

Both the companies have red coloured letters as their logo. While the Swedish company uses an ampersand to separate the two letters, the Indian retailer has kept them in Helvetica font enclosing them between square dots. The Court documents state that HM Mega Brands was registered in 2012 and has been using the brand name since its inception. They claim that their trademark is completely different and distinctive from that of the Swedish retailer. Further, HM Mega Brands, operate three outlets in Mumbai and Jalandhar, besides selling their products through e-commerce platforms. It is contended by them, that H&M is “unnecessarily asserting monopoly over the colour” and “issuing unjustifiable and groundless threats within the meaning of Section 142 of the Trademarks Act of 1999”.[1]

Section 142 of the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999 gives the provision of ‘Groundless threats of legal proceedings’, which states that – “Where a person, by means of circulars, advertisements or otherwise, threatens a person with an action or proceeding for infringement of a trade mark which is registered, or alleged by the first-mentioned person to be registered, or with some other like proceeding, a person aggrieved may, whether the person making the threats is or is not the registered proprietor or the registered user of the trade mark, bring a suit against the first-mentioned person and may obtain a declaration to the effect that the threats are unjustifiable, and an injunction against the continuance of the threats and may recover such damages (if any) as he has sustained, unless the first-mentioned person satisfies the court that the trade mark is registered and that the acts in respect of which the proceedings were threatened, constitute, or, if done, would constitute, an infringement of the trade mark.”

The proceedings are sub-judice as of now.

[1] “Trademark battle: H&M sends notice to Mumbai retailer HM Mega Brands”, available at