MADRAS HIGH COURT RESTRAINS KUTE GROUP FROM USING THE MARK TIRUMALAA

Our Associate, Madhurima Gadre discusses “Madras High Court restrains Kute Group from using the mark TIRUMALAA”

Recently the Madras High Court granted Tirumala Milk Products Pvt. Ltd. (“Plaintiff”) an interim injunction restraining Swaraj India Industries Limited’s (“Defendant”) use of the mark TIRUMALAA and any deceptively similar mark. The Plaintiff, the proprietor and user of the marks TIRUMALA and THIRUMALA in respect of dairy products, had filed a suit against the Defendant’s use of the nearly identical mark, TIRUMALAA, for identical goods. The Plaintiff, who claims to have a strong presence in the state of Maharashtra, alleged that the Defendant, who is also based out of Maharashtra, had dishonestly adopted the deceptively similar mark TIRUMALAA to encash upon the goodwill and reputation of the Plaintiff.

The Defendant questioned the Plaintiff’s monopoly over the term TIRUMALA, which is the name of a town in Chittor, Andhra Pradesh, and forms part of the corporate name of around three hundred (300) companies in India. The Defendant also pointed out that the Plaintiff, in its response to an Examination Report issued by the Trade Marks Registry in relation to one of its marks, had distinguished its mark from the mark THIRUMALA (in English and Telugu).

Despite these contentions, the court noted that the Defendant, in its counter affidavit, had not denied the Plaintiff’s claims that it has a strong presence in Maharashtra and that the Defendant was attempting to solicit the distributors of the Plaintiff. As such, the court observed that the Defendant’s lack of denial of these crucial claims must be construed as an admission of facts. Given that the Defendant was using a nearly identical mark for identical goods so as to draw away the Plaintiff’s customers, its actions amount to infringement and passing off of the Plaintiff’s marks. Therefore, the court granted an interim injunction in the Plaintiff’s favour.

Tirumala Milk Products Pvt. Ltd. v. Swaraj India Industries Ltd. and Ors., decision dt. 15.10.2020 in C.S (Comm. Div.). 190 of 2020