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Trademark Registration Versus Actual Use

Trademark registration is often seen as a significant milestone for businesses seeking to protect their brand identity. However, a recent appellate decision highlights the crucial distinction between mere registration and actual use of a trademark. The case delves into the complexities surrounding the burden of proof in trademark infringement and passing off actions, emphasizing the importance of substantiating claims with evidence of genuine use.


The appellant filed a trademark suit for infringement and passing off, alleging that the defendant's use of the mark "KARAMGREEN" and "KARAM GREEN TEX" amounted to infringement of their registered trademark "KARAMGREEN TEX." However, the trial court dismissed the injunction application, prompting the appellant to file an appeal.

Contentions and Ruling:
The appellant argued that the defendant's use of similar marks constituted trademark infringement, despite the differences in the goods provided by both parties. However, the appellate court upheld the trial court's decision, emphasizing that mere registration of a trademark does not automatically confer rights to the registrant. The court noted that the respondent/defendant had been using the mark "KARAM GREEN BAGS" since 2010, predating the appellant's/plaintiff's trademark registration in 2013.

Burden of Proof:
The crux of the matter lies in the burden of proof regarding the actual use of the trademark. While trademark registration provides prima facie evidence of ownership, it does not establish actual use in commerce. In trademark infringement and passing off actions, the burden rests on the plaintiff to demonstrate genuine use of the mark in relation to the goods or services specified in the registration.

Importance of Evidence:
The appellate court highlighted the absence of documentary evidence proving the appellant's use of the trademark "KARAMGREEN" in commerce. Mere registration without accompanying evidence of use is insufficient to establish infringement. Therefore, the court's decision underscores the importance of substantiating claims with concrete evidence of actual use in the marketplace.

The case serves as a reminder for trademark owners to not only secure registration but also diligently maintain and demonstrate genuine use of their marks in commerce. While registration provides legal protection, it is evidence of actual use that ultimately determines the success of infringement and passing off actions. Therefore, businesses must prioritize documenting and preserving evidence of trademark use to effectively assert their rights in legal proceedings.

Case Title: Karam Multipack Pvt. Ltd vs Karamgreen Bags
Order Date: 21.03.2024
Case No. First Appeal from Order 136 of 2023
Neutral Citation:NA
Name of Court: High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad
Name of Hon'ble Judge:Sandeep N Bhatt, H.J.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as substitute for legal advice as Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation perceived and expressed herein are are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue of law involved herein.

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

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