An interim injunction was passed by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court against Vintage Distilleries Ltd. in the case of Radico Khaitan Ltd. v. Vintage Distilleries Ltd.on the 27th of October 2020. The suit was filed by Radico Khaitan against Vintage Distilleries accusing the latter of infringing the plaintiff’s trademark – “Magic Moments”. In the plaint, the Plaintiff claimed that the word “Magic Moments” had been registered by them as both a word and device mark and they have been using the said trademark for a very long time. The plaintiff also stated in their submissions that the mark “Moments” was also registered and used by the plaintiff for a long time.
The issue before the court was that the defendant had adopted the alleged trademark “Vintage Moments” for identical goods and sought registration of the aforementioned trademark with the Trademark Registry under class 33 on 26th August 2020 on a ‘proposed to be use’ basis vide application no. 4625185 for alcoholic beverages including wines, spirit, Whisky, Rum, Vodka, Gin and Brandy, but the said mark had already been objected to by the Registrar. The plaintiff approached the Hon’ble Delhi High Court and prayed for an ad interim injunction on the impugned mark used by the defendant because it would cause insufferable loss to the plaintiff if the defendant was allowed to produce and sell under the impugned mark.
The single bench of Hon’ble Justice Mukta Gupta while granting the ad interim injunction stated as follows: “considering the averments made by the plaintiff, the plaintiff has successfully made out prima facie case in its favor and in case no ad-interim injunction is granted the plaintiff will suffer an irreparable loss. Balance of convenience also lies in the favor of the plaintiff.”
THE GATEWAY TO AD-INTERIM INJUNCTION IN TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT
The plaintiff approached the court for injunction under order 39 rule 1 and 2 of CPC but the question that we intend to find the answer for is, what is the primary consideration for courts while granting ad-interim injunction in cases of trademark infringement? In the instant case, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court granted the ad-interim injunction stating that there was a prima facie case made out and the balance of convenience lay in favor of the plaintiff. There have been a plethora of judgments in which Courts have granted relief to applicants in cases of infringement of their trademark which have ensured their belief in Indian Trade Mark law.
The object of the interlocutory injunction has been discussed in the case of Wander Ltd. v. Antox India (P) Ltd., where the appellant Wander Ltd approached Supreme Court of India when an interlocutory injunction was granted by High Court against them. Antox India (P) Ltd. had filed a suit against Wander claiming that the trademark ‘Cal-De-Ce’ belonged to Antox based on the agreement entered between the two companies which was revoked by Wander Ltd. after a few years. The Supreme Court in this case held that “to protect the plaintiff against injury by violation of his rights for which he could be adequately be compensated in damage recoverable in the action if the uncertainty were resolved in his favor at the trial.”
In the case of Ansul Industries v. Shiva Tobacco Company, the hon’ble Delhi High Court opined that “while considering the question of injunction, the Court is required to find out the existence of prima facie case. The Court is also required to find out whether irreparable loss would be caused to the party seeking interim injunction is refused and whether the balance of convenience is with the applicant or not.”
It is to be noted that a prima facie case is not a mini trial. It only means that the plaintiff has made out a triable case. Therefore, such a case is not one of certainty as in the case of infringement of the trademark itself, but instead relates to there being a likelihood of causing confusion and deception.
In the instant case question arose as to whether there was a prima facie case or not and the same was clearly established by the plaintiff in the affirmative.
Once, prima facie case is established, the test for balance of convenience will follow suit.. The question of balance of convenience arises when both the parties are practically on the same level and such that their rights are equal. However, in the case at hand, the plaintiff’s position was much superior to that of the defendant as the plaintiff had been a user of the mark for a much longer time than the defendant. The court therefore found no difficulty in holding that balance of convenience lay in favour of the plaintiff and hence an ad-interim injunction was inevitable.
The next question which follows is whether irreparable injury is bound to follow if an injunction is not granted? In cases of ad interim injunction the court can assume that irreparable injury is bound to follow if it has been proven that balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff. A similar observation has been made by the Court in the case of Ramdev Food Products (P) Ltd. v. Arvindbhai Rambhai Patelwhere it was held that -when prima facie case is made out and balance of convenience is in favor of the appellant, it may not be necessary to show more than goodwill and reputation to fulfill the condition of irreparable injury.
Cases of injunction do not require the plaintiff to prove that there is deception. However, the object of trademark law will diminish if the Court issues injunctions without first verifying as to whether there is irreparable loss to the plaintiff or not. The object of trade mark law is to stop traders/ producers from carrying out acts which are aimed at injuring the goodwill of other traders. In Shree Nath Heritage Liquor Pvt. Ltd. v. Allied Blender & Distillers Pvt. Ltd., the Court found the words ‘Officer’s Choice’ and ‘Collector’s Choice’ to be prima facie deceptively similar as they conveyed the same meaning and granted an injunction against the mark ‘Collector’s Choice’.
The judgment in Radico Khaitan Ltd. v. Vintage Distilleries Ltd is a much appreciable decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. If the temporary injunction would not have been granted, the plaintiff would have suffered huge loss as the impugned trademark was not only similar but the trademark was being used for identical goods. In the instant case the plaintiff successfully established that there was prima facie case and balance of convenience lay in favor of the plaintiff. Every plaintiff approaching the court should therefore remember that the following are of paramount importance when seeking relief from the Court:
- establishing a prima facie case and balance of convenience
- clearly establish the above with the help of all the required documents and data required for grant of relief to the plaintiff.
Radico Khaitan Ltd. v. Vintage Distilleries Ltd , https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-383137.pdf.
 Wander Ltd. v. Antox India (P) Ltd,1990 (supp) SCC 727.
Ansul Industries v. Shiva Tobacco Company ,2007 (34) PTC 392 (Del).
Ramdev Food Products (P) Ltd. v. Arvindbhai Rambhai Patel (2006)8 SCC 726 at p. 772.
Shree Nath Heritage Liquor Pvt. Ltd. v. Allied Blender & Distillers Pvt. Ltd.,2015 (63) PTC 551 (Del) (DB), p. 570.