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Khairatabad, Hyderabad, Telangana, 500004
Khairatabad, Hyderabad, Telangana, 500004

Kosha Doshi | Symbiosis Law School, Pune | 25th March 2020

International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Iskcon Apparel Pvt. Ltd. [INTERIM APPLICATION NO.1 OF 2020 IN COMMERCIAL IP SUIT (L) NO. 235 OF 2020 WITH LEAVE PETITION NO. 44 OF 2020; Bombay High Court]

Facts:

         International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a religious organization which had been founded by Late Acharya AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the year 1966. Around that time, he had started Krishna Conscious movement and in lieu of the same International Society for Krishna Consciousness the movement flourished in New York. 

         International Society for Krishna Consciousness had discovered the website of the defendant in the second week of February, 2020. The company manufactured clothing, textiles, clothing accessories, garments and so on under the trade name ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd. Discovery of another website took place wherein the trade name had been changed from ISKCON Apparel Pvt. Ltd to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. But the defendant continued trade under the expression of ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd. 

The suit was filed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) alleging infringement of trade mark. 

Issue:

         Whether after the trade name changed, the act of continuing trade under the previous trade name was an infringement of trade mark?

Judgment:

         The Bombay High Court granted an ad-interim injunction against the appealing company which used the trade name ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd. The case heard by Justice BP Colabawalla stated that one of deliberation whereby the company could trade based on the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiff based on the trade mark ISKCON. 

         The court observed that prima facie there was no doubt that the defendant’s (ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd.) trading name is identical and deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff’s (International Society for Krishna Consciousness ISKCON) trading name. It was held that the use of expression ISKCON Apparel Pvt Ltd. even after its change to Alcis Sports Pvt. Ltd. when continued to use the previous name was held to be an infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks and meant passing off considering the registrations secured and reputation acquired by the plaintiff. 

         Further, the court stated that if the defendant uses the changed trade name, no prejudice would be caused to the defendants if they are injuncted from using the term “Formerly known as ISKCON Apparel Pvt. Ltd.” The plaintiff had made a strong prima facie case and if relief is not granted, it would cause injury and grave injustice. The balance of convenience is in favor of the plaintiff and therefore was granted relief for defendant’s act of infringement. 

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