Bombay High Court Declares ‘ISKCON’ a Well-Known Trademark Under the Trade Marks Act, 1999

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The authorities of the ISKCON temple filed a suit for infringement of their trademark. The plaintiff also asked the Court to declare that ‘ISKCON’ is a well-known trademark.

Issue

The plaintiff had filed a suit at the Bombay High Court to get a permanent injunction. In this case, the plaintiff alleged that the respondent authorities infringed the ‘ISKCON’ trademark. Herein, the Iskcon Apparel Private Limited already changed their name to the Alcis Private Limited, but the company sold its products through the online mode in the name of ‘ISKCON’.

Arguments Advanced

Mr. Kamod appeared on behalf of the petitioner. He stated that the Late Acharya founded the ‘ISKCON’ in 1966 in New York. He started the Krishna Consciousness Movement. The movement started in name of International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He said that movement got popular within a short time.

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Plaintiff submitted that the first built temple was in 1971 in India. The plaintiff uses the ISKCON as a trademark for advertising its goods and services. The name as a trademark is used extensively and continuously. He spent a lot of money on advertisement, promotion and marketing. This was to make the trademark more popular.

The plaintiff also owns a website: www.iskcon.org. This website has been operational from 1994. The plaintiff has also owned other 12 domains in the name of ‘ISKCON’. The Counsel further stated that the ‘ISKCON’ deals with a wide range of products. Thus, ‘ISKCON’ enjoys a goodwill globally.

The Counsel submitted that ‘ISKCON’ fulfils all conditions to be a well- known trademark. ISKCON also fulfils all necessary conditions under Section 11(4) and 11(7) of the Trademarks Act, 1999. To support its arguments, the plaintiff relied on the case of ITC Ltd. v. Rani Sati Foods Pvt. Ltd. 2018 of Bombay High Court.

Court’s Analysis

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The Court said that there is no doubt that ‘ISKCON’ is a well-known trademark. It requires the highest degree of protection. The ‘ISKCON’ trademark is closely associated with the plaintiff. The documents produced before the Court clearly showed that trademark has gained immense popularity. It also earned goodwill across the globe. The trademark is only associated with the plaintiff. The plaintiff has initiated proceedings against the misuse of Trade Mark. Thus, it has become successful in enforcing its rights in its Trade Mark.

Court’s Decision

The judges passed the order in favour of the plaintiff and stated that-
(a) The plaintiff’s trademark ISKCON has wide acceptability;
(b) the plaintiff’s trademark also is famous across the globe;
(c) the plaintiff is using trademark from its inception;
(d) the plaintiff has taken actions against several infringers in the past.

Therefore, the aforementioned grounds, satisfy the provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. Thus, the Court held that ISKCON is a ‘well-known’ trademark in India. ISKCON is a well-known trademark under Section 2(1) (zg) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.


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