In what should come as relief to cigarette major ITC, the Bombay High Court on Friday restrained its rival Godfrey Phillips from selling its recently launched Sun Flake Gold brand.
Justice R.Y. Ganoo temporarily restrained Godfrey Phillips from selling its product, following a suit filed by ITC alleging violation of its copyrights. The HC observed that there was a prima facie (on the face of it) case of copyright violation.
However, the HC has not asked the company to call back those stocks of the product that are already in the market.
ITC had approached the HC in February after Godfery Phillips launched Sun Flake Gold earlier this year. It alleged in its suit that the packaging, look and dimensions of the cigarette pack, price and cigarette size were similar to its product Wills Flake Excel, which was introduced in the market last year.
Virendra Tulzapurkar, counsel for ITC, argued that Godfrey Phillips’ product was launched in packaging that could “pass off for ITC's product” and confuse the consumer.
Countering this argument, Godfrey Phillips’ counsels Aspi Chinoy and Venkatesh Dhond, argued that although there was some similarity in the packs, it could not be termed copyright violation.
Godfrey Phillips' counsel said both packs are golden-coloured, and the artwork is in black and red, a colour combination that is commonly used in the cigarette industry. The dimensions of the packs are also common in the industry and cannot be called a violation of copyright, they contended.
They further pointed out that the text, logo and fonts were different, and that their “mark” was registered three years before ITC launched its brand in the market.