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The Taj Group of Hotels has won a legal battle in the Delhi High Court over trademark 'JIVA' used for spa services in its hotels across the globe.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva restrained businessman Ashwajeet Garg from using "deceptively similar" trademark 'ZIVA' for providing similar spa services in hotels in India.
"The plaintiff (Indian Hotels Company Ltd also known as the Taj Group of Hotels) has established a prima facie case. Further, balance of convenience is in their favour as they are prior users of the said mark and irreparable injury would be caused to them if the defendant is allowed to carry on its infringing activity...."
"In the present case, it is an undisputed fact that the trademark and name used by the defendant is identical to the plaintiff's and in relation to the same goods and services, therefore, the question of delay in filing the suit, if any, does not arise," the court said.
It restrained Garg and others from "using the trademark ZIVA or JIVA or any other trademark deceptively similar to the the plaintiff's in respect of spa services and any other service similar to that of the plaintiff and the ex-parte ad-interim order granted on 15.03.2011 is confirmed".
The Taj Group claimed that in 2004 it had adopted the mark JIVA for its spa business and later 'JIVA SPA' was launched in as many as 24 places across India and abroad.
It claimed that the lawsuit, seeking to restrain Garg and others from using trademark 'ZIVA' for their spa services, was filed the moment it came to know about the infringement of the trademark in 2012.
The trademark 'ZIVA' is "phonetically and visually" deceptively similar and the court, in its interim and ex-parte order, had also restrained Garg from using it.
The court, in its 43-page judgement, dealt with various legal and factual requirements needed for restraining a party from using a trademark.
"For a plaintiff to be entitled to relief of injunction, the plaintiff has to satisfy three basic ingredients. The plaintiff has to show a strong prima facie case for grant of an ad-interim injunction, the balance of convenience should be in favour of the plaintiff and in favour of grant of an ad-interim injunction and finally it should be shown that in case ad-interim injunction is not granted, the plaintiff shall suffer an irreparable loss and injury," it said.
It held that all the basic requirements have been met as the Taj Group is the prior registered user of 'JIVA' trademark and moreover, the consumers may get confused as the area of operation is also same.
"The consumers/customers are likely to be confused and likely to believe that the mark of the defendants is associated with the mark of the plaintiff. The marks are put to use by both, the plaintiff and the defendant for same services.
"The defendants are also operating in five star hotels and at least two cities are common between the spas of the plaintiff and the defendant," it said.
The court also permitted the Taj Group to approach patents panel IPAB to seek rectification of trademark 'ZIVA', registered in the name of Garg and others.
It, however, said that Garg and others will be "entitled to use the mark 'JIVAYA'" as it relates to some other business and the Taj Group had no objection to its use.