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Infringement made out, but injunction declined on the ground of prima facie sustainable challenge to the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration

This detailed analytical legal article examines a trademark dispute involving the plaintiff's registered trademark "PANTOCID" and the defendant's trademark "PANTOPACID." Both parties were engaged in the sale of medicinal products. The article critically analyzes the court's observations on trademark infringement, phonetic similarity, likelihood of confusion, price difference, and the challenge to the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration. The article delves into the implications of the court's decision and the broader considerations of trademark law.

Trademark protection is essential in preserving brand identity and preventing consumer confusion. In this case, the plaintiff's registered trademark "PANTOCID" was alleged to be infringed by the defendant's trademark "PANTOPACID." This article aims to analyze the court's reasoning behind the decision and evaluate the complex interplay between trademark infringement, likelihood of confusion, price differences, and the challenge to the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration.

Phonetic Similarity and Likelihood of Confusion:
The court observed that there is marked phonetic similarity between "PANTOCID" and "PANTOPACID." Phonetic similarity can lead to consumer confusion, particularly in the medicinal product context where purchasers may rely on the sound of the brand name. The court's observation about the likelihood of a customer mistaking the two trademarks is significant in assessing potential infringement.

Impact of Price Difference:
The defendant argued that the difference in prices between the drugs should negate the possibility of confusion. However, the court rejected this argument, emphasizing that price differences are not determinative of trademark infringement. Consumer confusion may arise from factors beyond just pricing, making the visual and phonetic similarities more critical.

Validity Challenge and Section 28(1) of the Trade Marks Act:
The court's decision, while acknowledging the infringement claims, declined relief to the plaintiff due to a prima facie sustainable challenge to the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration. This challenge is grounded in Section 28(1) of the Trade Marks Act, which requires the registration of the asserted mark to be valid for the plaintiff to be entitled to relief. The court's stance indicates the critical importance of a valid and unchallenged trademark registration.

Implications and Conclusion:
The case of "PANTOCID" vs. "PANTOPACID" highlights the intricate nature of trademark disputes and the multifaceted considerations that courts must take into account. The court's recognition of phonetic similarity and the likelihood of consumer confusion aligns with established principles of trademark law. The rejection of the defendant's price difference argument reinforces the broader notion that trademark infringement is not solely determined by pricing disparities.

The Concluding Note:
The court's decision to decline relief based on the challenge to the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration underscores the significance of maintaining a strong and unassailable trademark registration. This case illustrates the delicate balance between infringement claims and the validity of a trademark, both of which are crucial for effective trademark protection. In conclusion, the "PANTOCID" vs. "PANTOPACID" case serves as a noteworthy precedent in the realm of trademark law, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive evaluation of all relevant factors when adjudicating trademark disputes.

Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Sun Pharma Laboratories Limited Vs Fine cure Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Date of Judgement:16.08.2023
Case No. CS(COMM) 283/2023
Neutral Citation No: 2023: DHC: 5755
Name of Hon'ble Judge: C Hai Shankar, H.J.
Name of Court: Delhi High Court

Information and discussion contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for expert advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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