Delhi High Court Rejects Claim that Trademark Was Inspired by Hindu Gods Citing Lack of Supporting Evidence

Delhi High Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 28 September 2023 at 00:08 IST

The Delhi High Court, presided over by Justice C. Hari Shankar, has dismissed the defense put forth by an Indian entity accused of trademark infringement against a German company.

The defense argued that their use of the trademark was inspired by Hindu Gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh.

In its ruling, the court stated, “The ‘Vishnu Brahma Mahesh’ explanation is too simplistic to withstand legal scrutiny, and it lacks any corroborating documentary evidence.”

The court further noted, “In my opinion, it is evident that the defendant has consistently intended to create confusion in the minds of consumers between the products produced by the plaintiff and other products sold under the ‘VBM’ label.”

This legal dispute involved a trademark infringement case filed by a German medical equipment manufacturer named VBM Medizintechnik GMBH against Geetan Luthra, the proprietor of VBM India Co (VBMIC).

The German company alleged that Luthra had violated their trademark by using the ‘VBM’ mark, which they argued stood for “Mr. Volker Bertram Medical.” Conversely, the defendants claimed that ‘VBM’ represented “Vishnu, Brahma, and Mahesh.”

The High Court did not accept the “somewhat clever” explanation for the acronym “VBM” and expressed the view that the defendant might have invoked divine retribution for using the holy Trinity for potentially dishonest purposes.

Furthermore, the Court determined that the defendant’s registration of the ‘VMB’ mark lacked good faith and could not benefit from the provisions of Section 33 of the Trade Marks Act.

The Court also found that all the elements of a passing-off claim were present in this case.

Consequently, the Court was convinced that by adopting “VBM” as part of its corporate and intellectual identity, the defendant was attempting to pass off products it dealt with as those of the plaintiff, even when they were not manufactured by the plaintiff.

In this regard, the Court stated, “In this case, the defendant not only adopted a trade name and a mark identical to those of the plaintiff but also, under the same mark, marketed goods not manufactured by the plaintiff. This was done by affixing a deceptively similar mark on the goods to mislead consumers into believing they were the plaintiff’s products. It is not a valid defense for the defendant to claim that it was not selling any products that directly competed with the plaintiff’s under its registered ‘VBM’ logo. In both cases, the defendant was dealing in medical equipment.

The screenshot provided is revealing. Clearly, the defendant’s intention was to use the plaintiff’s mark to deal in goods from various manufacturers, applying its deceptively similar mark to those goods.”

As a result, the Court deemed it appropriate to grant the interlocutory injunction sought by the plaintiff.

Case Title: VBM Medizintechnik GMBH V. Geetan Luthra

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