The Term “ISKON” Deserves The Highest Degree Of Protection-Bombay High Court

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The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the matter of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) vs Iskcon Appaeral Pvt. Ltd. & Anr has categorically enunciated that “ISKCON” was indeed a well known trademark in India and would fall within the ambit of Sections 2 (1) (zg) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. In the present case, the plaintiff had filed a commercial IP suit seeking a permanent injunction, passing off and other reliefs against the defendant who is a clothing manufacturer for its blatant infringement of plaintiff’s registered trademark “ISKCON”. The plaintiff also prayed for a declaration that “ISKCON” was a well known trademark in India. It is pertinent to note that the Bombay High Court had already issued an order dated 06.03.2020 granting an ad-interim relief in favor of the plaintiff.
The defendants contended that the name Iskcon Apparel Private Limited (Defendant No.1) has changed its name to Alcis Sports Private Limited (Defendant No.2) and at present Defendant No. 1 did not even exist. Defendants also served an affidavit-cum-undertaking to the plaintiff stating that they would refrain from using the trademark “ISKCON” in any manner whatsoever. The plaintiff, on the other hand, submitted that the Krishna Consciousness Movement in the name and style of “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (ISKCON) was first started in New York, the United States of America in 1961 and slowly spread across the globe and now has expanded to more than 600 ISKCON temples, 65 eco-farm communities, 110 Vegetarian Restaurants and centers all over the world including in India. The plaintiff also submitted that the mark “ISKCON” was regularly and continuously in use since its inception and a substantial amount of money was spent on advertising, promotion, etc., of the trademark “ISKCON”.
The Hon’ble High Court considering the facts and circumstances and the long history of usage of the term “ISKCON” by the plaintiff, opined that the term “ISKCON” undoubtedly deserved the highest degree of protection as the same was a term coined by and is exclusively associated with the plaintiff for a very long time. The Court also observed that the plaintiff’s trademark had acquired goodwill that is known all around the world. Further, the Court granting a permanent injunction against the defendants, observed that the plaintiff’s trademark satisfied all tests and requirements of a well known trademark as provided under Section 11(6), 11(7) and other provisions of the Trade mark Act 1999.

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