Published on: October 18, 2022 at 20:46 IST
The Delhi High Court recently granted Triumphant Institute of Management Education (T.I.M.E) a temporary restraining order preventing one “Times Coaching Centre” from using its registered mark for educational services.
The defendant institute was forbidden by Justice Jyoti Singh from using the trademarks “TIMES COACHING CENTRE” and “FUTURE TIMES COACHING CENTRE” in connection with educational activities.
The court further ruled that the plaintiff’s trademarks’ abbreviation “T.I.M.E.” is a distinctive and important feature.
“Plaintiff (T.I.M.E) is thus prima facie correct in its submission that because of the commonality in the services of the respective parties, the public at large and more particularly”
“The students would get confused with the origin of services offered by the Defendant and mistake the same to be that of the Plaintiff, on account of the deceptive similarity in the acronym T.I.M.E. and TIMES in the Defendant’s trademarks,” the order stated.
Furthermore, the Court rejected T.I.M.E’s request for contempt against the defendant for failing to abide by an earlier order issued by the court.
“Since notice of contempt and punishment has far reaching consequences, these powers should be invoked only when a clear case of wilful disobedience of Court’s order is made out,” the Court reasoned while dismissing the same.
T.I.M.E. had filed a lawsuit, alleging that the defendant had engaged in passing off and trademark infringement by using the word “TIMES” as part of its trade name for educational services.
The prevailing organisation asserted that it was the well-known proprietor of an extensive network of coaching institutions that provided top-notch instruction and preparation for numerous national and state-level exams, including the CAT, GATE, CLAT, IIT-JEE, and GMAT.
“The institutes are run under the trademark and style T.I.M.E., which is an acronym derived from the name of the Company, i.e., TRIUMPHANT INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT EDUCATION,” the plaintiffs had submitted.
The Court determined that “TIME” and “TIMES” are phonetically identical and deceptively similar after comparing the two.
The court further ruled that the defendant used the word “TIMES” dishonestly and with the intent to mislead its affiliation or relationship to the plaintiff to the general public.
“…the use of the word ‘TIMES’ by the Defendant for which it has no plausible explanation, is dishonest and only with a view to misrepresent to the general public that Defendant’s Institute has an association or a connection with Plaintiff’s Institute or is a branch thereof and is calculated to injure its goodwill and reputation,” the Court said.
The Court concluded that “T.I.M.E.” is an acronym of the plaintiff’s corporate name, completely connected with the plaintiff’s business, and as such, entitled to legal protection.
The Court rejected the defendant’s contention that the word “TIMES” is a word used in common parlance or is common to trade.
The defendant’s decision to use the word “TIMES” as part of its trademark without providing any explanation as to why it selected only the word TIMES for similar educational and training programmes, according to the Court, was itself indicative of its intention to mislead consumers and profit from the plaintiff’s reputation.
The Court made it apparent that the defendant, even without using the phrase “TIMES,” is free to operate its institute under any other trademark, including “FUTURE COACHING CENTRE.”
The petition was dismissed, and the defendant was ordered to pay costs of Rs. 20,000 to the Delhi High Court Bar Clerk’s Association within two weeks of the order’s date.
Advocates J. Sai Deepak and Bitika Sharma, Luv Virmani, and Aadya Chawla of Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP represented the plaintiff.
For the defendants, attorneys Rajeshwari H and Nupur Goswami were present.
Case Title: Times Coaching Centre vs. Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt Ltd.