Mumbai: Hearing a copyright violation case filed by producers of 'Society Tea' brand, the Bombay High Court has temporarily restrained S K Food Products from selling or passing off its product under trade mark 'Sahil', which it felt appears deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff.

Observing that a prima facie case of copyright infringement had been made out, Justice S J Kathawala passed an ad-interim order on October 3 granting interim relief to M/s Hansmukhrai & Co, producers of 'Society Tea' against the defendants.

"A look at the wrapper/pouch/packet of the defendant supports the plaintiffs' contention that it is deceptively similar to and indeed a slavish imitation of the plaintiffs' 'Society' label/wrappers/pouch which is likely to cause confusion and deception amongst the public and the trade," the judge noted.

"The plaintiffs are correct in their submission that by printing and using the word 'Sahil' on labels, wrappers and pouches for tea, the defendants have committed an infringement of the registered trademarks of the plaintiffs as well as infringement of copyright and passing of the defendants' goods as and for those of the plaintiffs", the judge noted.

"In view thereof, the plaintiffs have made out more than a prima facie case in their favour and are therefore entitled to ad-interim reliefs as sought (by them). The balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiffs and against the defendants. Ad-interim relief is, therefore, granted to the plaintiffs, justice Kathawala noted.

The plaintiffs filed the suit to stop the defendants from infringing the registered label marks 'Society Tea' and using the same on their wrappers, pouches and packets.

The plaintiffs also sought an injunction against the defendants from passing off their products, wrappers or pouches under the trade mark 'Sahil' and also for those of their products which were deceptively similar to the label trade mark and original artistic work of the plaintiffs.

With a view to acquire statutory protection, the plaintiffs had applied for and obtained registration for their artistic label marks in hues of blue and green with, inter alia, the device of cups and saucers and Rupee one under a series of 'Society Tea' trade marks in English and Devnagari which was registered in 1994 by the Registrar of Trade Marks in respect of tea and coffee, the court was informed.     

On perusal, the court observed that these trademarks are duly renewed and also are valid and subsisting. The court, however, noted that in the event of the defendants being aggrieved by this order, they may move this court for appropriate reliefs after issuing notice to Advocates for the plaintiffs.


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