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Nobody can claim monopoly over names of Hindu Gods, says Bombay high court

Claiming and protecting the label mark is different than to claim monopoly over a common word, said the bench

mumbai Updated: Aug 16, 2017 09:08 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Bombay high court,God

Names of Hindu Gods are “not exclusive and nobody can be allowed to claim monopoly over such words as trademarks or trade names”, the Bombay high court (HC) said.

“Prima facie, we find substance in the submissions of the learned counsel appearing for the defendant [GEBI Products] that the names of Hindu Gods are not exclusive and such words cannot be monopolised by one party,” said the division bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice Bharati Dangre, while rejecting an appeal filed by Freudenberg Gala Household Product Private Limited.

“Claiming and protecting the label mark is different than to claim monopoly over a common word.”

Freudenberg Gala Household Product Private Limited, which manufactures and markets household and industrial cleaning products such as mops, brooms, brushes, etc., had approached the division bench in appeal against a single judge’s order rejecting its plea for injunction against GEBI Products.

The firm said it was using the mark ‘Laxmi’ in respect of brooms since 1995 and got it registered in 2003 for the same product. In 2015, it came across identical products – brooms – manufactured by GEBI Products and they were being marketed under the trade name ‘Mahalaxmi’. It sought an injunction against GEBI Products, restraining it from using the mark ‘Mahalaxmi’, alleging that the company had deliberately adopted a mark that was identical and deceptively similar to the trade mark being used by them for their products.

It was argued on behalf of GEBI Products that ‘Laxmi’ was a very common name amongst Hindus and the names of Hindu Gods are not exclusive and such words cannot be allowed to be monopolised by a party.

The bench accepted the contention and rejected the appeal. Besides, it also took into consideration that there was marked difference between the two marks used by Gala Products and GEBI Products and therefore there was no question of confusion among the consumers.

The bench said in a case of trade mark infringement, it was required to be seen if the rival marks are similar and the test is of the man of average intelligence with imperfect recollection, but it did not find any such similarity between the two marks, Laxmi and Mahalaxmi.

It noted that while the mark ‘Laxmi’ was in elaborate 3D font, ‘Mahalaxmi’ was written in simple font. ‘Laxmi’ was written in navy blue colour, whereas ‘Mahalaxmi’ was written in red. The background of the first mark was pink, while that of the second, yellow, green and blue. Besides, the words on the wrappers of both the products were different and therefore there was no similarity between the two marks.

First Published: Aug 16, 2017 08:49 IST