The Bombay High Court recently restrained an Akola-based firm from marketing an edible oil brand on the grounds that the name was similar to an established product. The court said that merely adding a suffix to a popular name can't be the basis of a new trademark.
Kamani Oil Industries Private Limited had approached the HC, alleging that use of brand 'Riso-Lite' by Bhuwaneshwar Refineries Private Limited was an attempt to take advantage of their mark 'riso'.
While admitting Kamani's plea, Justice S J Kathawala observed, "I am prima facie satisfied that the defendant's mark Riso-Lite is deceptively similar to the petitioner's mark 'riso'." The judge added that suffix 'Lite' could also be misconstrued as a low-cholesterol variant of brand 'riso'.
Kamani's petition states that it has been using the 'riso' trademark for its rice bran oil since July 2011. Within a short span of time, the commodity proved to be a hit among the consumers.
The city-based firm stated that it learnt in 2013 about the defendants manufacturing and selling oil under name Riso-Lite in Akola. After a search with the trademark registry, it found that the Bhuwaneshwar Refinery had applied for registration of the trade mark.
In its defence, Bhuwaneshwar Refinery argued that Riso-Lite was a composite label, where 'riso' was one of the elements written in a particular manner. The defendant claimed that Kamani was entitled to claim infringement if the whole of the brand name were adopted.
Further Kamani had adopted the mark from previous labels like 'Riso-NA' and 'Riso-LA' and thus it could claim to have honestly conceived and adopted the registered trademark, argued Bhuwaneshwar Refinery.
The court after going through the arguments and case laws cited by the parties noted that the defendant had failed to prove that the prior marks Riso-NA or Riso-LA have actually been used or that they have a reputation or market of their own, which the plaintiff by its mark 'riso' is infringing upon.
Granting interim relief to Kamani, the HC adjourned the matter to June 9.