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Letters from Dealers, Having Similar Contents, Do Not Prove Use of Defendant's Trademark

This article examines a legal judgment where the court restrained the defendant from using the trademarks LW and LW+. The case emphasizes the importance of genuine evidence over similar letters from different dealers to prove the use of a trademark. The defendant was denied the benefit of trademark registration due to registration in a different class and the established prior use by the plaintiff. Additionally, the defendant's adoption of a similar trademark to the plaintiff's was found to be indicative of dishonesty.

The plaintiff and defendant were involved in a trademark dispute where the plaintiff held registrations for the trademarks LW and LW+ in Class 19. The defendant had a registration for a similar mark in Class 01 but was restrained from using LW and LW+. The plaintiff demonstrated prior use of these trademarks, strengthening their claim. The defendant, previously using the mark HYDROBUILD, adopted HYDROBUILD LW+ subsequently.

The defendant provided letters from different dealers, all with similar content, as evidence of their use of the trademark. However, these letters were not found to be convincing. The court also noted that the defendant could not argue that the trademark was descriptive, generic, or common to trade since they had applied for its registration themselves.

The court found that the plaintiff was the prior user of the trademarks LW and LW+, thus establishing their right over the marks. The defendant's evidence, consisting of letters from different dealers with similar content, was deemed insufficient to prove their use of the trademarks. The court further noted that the defendant's registration in a different class (Class 01) did not entitle them to use the trademarks in question, as the plaintiff's prior use and registration in Class 19 took precedence. The defendant's subsequent adoption of HYDROBUILD LW+ after using HYDROBUILD was viewed as an act of dishonesty.

Legal Implication:
This case underscores the principle that mere submission of letters from different dealers with similar content does not constitute credible evidence of trademark use. The decision highlights the necessity for genuine and substantial proof of use when asserting trademark rights. Furthermore, the judgment reinforces the significance of prior use in trademark disputes, particularly when registrations are in different classes. The ruling also illustrates that a defendant cannot claim a trademark to be generic or descriptive if they have sought its registration.

The core reasoning in the court's decision is that the plaintiff's prior use of the trademarks LW and LW+ establishes their superior rights over the marks, regardless of the defendant's registration in a different class. The similarity in content among the letters submitted by the defendant from various dealers does not provide sufficient evidence of trademark use. Moreover, the defendant's subsequent adoption of a similar mark to that of the plaintiff demonstrates dishonesty, further weakening their position.

Concluding Note:
The judgment serves as a crucial reminder for parties in trademark disputes to present authentic and substantial evidence of use. It reiterates that mere letters with similar content from different dealers are inadequate to prove trademark use. The case highlights the importance of prior use in establishing trademark rights and the limitations of registrations in different classes. Additionally, it underscores the judiciary's stance against dishonest practices in trademark adoption.

Case Title:Pidilite Industries Limited Vs Dubond Products India Pvt. Ltd.
Order Date: 21.05.2024
Case No. CS Comm 523 of 2023
Neutral Citation:2024:BHC:OS:8329
Name of Court: Mumbai High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: R.I.Chagla. H.J.

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

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