Why the Miss India Trademark infringement case reinforces the importance of registering trademarks?

In Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. & Ors. v. Rising India Entertainment Production & Ors., the Delhi High Court passed an order granting a permanent injunction against the defendant organization prohibiting the use of registered trademarks “MISS INDIA’ and ‘MR. INDIA’ (“Registered Trademarks”)

The suit was filed by Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (“Bennett Coleman”) in respect of a beauty pageant that was being promoted by the defendants under the title ‘MR. & MISS INDIA WORLD’, which was alleged to be infringing on the Registered Trademarks, owned by Bennett Coleman.

Bennett Coleman claimed that the Registered Trademarks had obtained registrations under Classes 38 (Services related to Telecommunications & Broadcasting) and 41 (Services related to Education, Entertainment & Training). Further averments were made that the Registered Trademarks constituted well-known marks and that the defendants were seeking to take advantage of the reputation and goodwill that Bennett Coleman had attained in India and internationally. The beauty pageant was being promoted by the defendants by way of a Facebook page inviting applications from participants, and mentioning a winner of the pageant organized by Bennett Coleman, as the judge in the defendant’s pageant.

The two partners of the defendant organization made statements on oath before the court that they were unaware of the fact of registration of the Registered Trademarks and assured the court that they ‘would not use the same or deceptively similar marks in the future’.

In view of the statements made by the defendants, the Court passed a permanent injunction against them prohibiting them from conducting the beauty pageant under the title ‘MR. & MISS INDIA WORLD’, and accordingly disposed off the suit.

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In this case, though Bennett Coleman claimed that their Registered Trademarks were well-known marks, it did not attempt to substantiate such claim nor did the court go into the merits of such claim. The court while relying upon the finding that the infringed marks were registered, and taking into account the defendant’s statement, granted the injunction to prevent confusion between the marks.

This demonstrates the importance of registration of trademarks in seeking to protect the goodwill of the brand and to enforce the rights associated with the same. In addition to acting as a source identifier, helping promote the brand, a trademark registration also makes available the remedies associated with trademark infringement. As seen in the above case, the fact of registration acts as prima facie proof working in favor of the plaintiff filing the suit.

Disclaimer: This post has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information/or observations contained in this post does not constitute legal advice and should not be acted upon in any specific situation without seeking proper legal advice from a practicing attorney.