FABINDIA VS. FAB INDIA EMPORIUM TRADEMARK DISPUTE

In a recent decision dated May 15, 2024, the High Court of Delhi presided by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anish Dayal addressed a trademark infringement case between Fabindia (Plaintiff) and Fab India Emporium (Defendant). The case, involves multiple interim applications filed by the plaintiff seeking various reliefs including injunction, exemptions, and procedural permissions.

Background of the Case:

Fabindia, a well-established Indian retail company specializing in handcrafted goods, initiated the suit against Fab India Emporium for unauthorized use of the trademark “FABINDIA”. Fabindia claims that the defendant’s use of the mark is deceptively similar to its registered trademark, causing confusion and potential harm to its brand reputation. The plaintiff, represented by Senior Advocate Mr. Viraj Datar, contends that the defendant’s actions infringe upon its rights and seek a permanent injunction to restrain the defendant from using the disputed mark.

Legal Proceedings and Interim Applications

1. Application for Leave to File Additional Documents:

The plaintiff sought to file additional documents under Order 11 Rule 1(4) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, as applicable to commercial suits under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. The Court allowed the plaintiff to file additional documents at a later stage, subject to compliance with relevant rules.

2. Application for Exemption from Filing Pleadings with Proper Margins and Original Documents: The Court granted the plaintiff exemption from filing pleadings with proper margins and original documents, with the condition that clear and legible copies be filed before the next hearing date.

3. Application for Exemption from Pre-Litigation Mediation: Citing urgency and the precedent set by Chandra Kishore Chaurasia v. R.A. Perfumery Works Private Ltd., the Court exempted the plaintiff from pre-institution mediation.

4. Application for Exemption from Advance Service on Defendant: Given the urgency, the Court allowed the plaintiff to bypass the requirement of advance notice to the defendant, enabling the matter to be heard promptly.

5. Application for Conducting Interrogatories: The plaintiff withdrew this application, and the Court dismissed it as withdrawn: The Court ordered the plaint to be registered as a suit and directed the issuance of summons to the defendant, requiring a written statement within 30 days from receipt. The defendant must also file an affidavit of admission/denial of the plaintiff’s documents alongside the written statement. This crucial application sought an ex-parte ad interim injunction to prevent the defendant from using the mark “FABINDIA” or any deceptively similar mark. Fabindia argued that the defendant’s use of “FAB INDIA EMPORIUM” not only causes confusion but also dilutes the distinctiveness of its well-known trademark. The plaintiff provided evidence of substantial sales and market presence under the “FABINDIA” mark, claiming significant turnover figures for the years 2022-2023.

Court’s Decision on Interim Injunction:

After reviewing the presented evidence and arguments, the Court found a prima facie case in favour of Fabindia. The balance of convenience lay with the plaintiff, and the potential for irreparable harm justified the need for an interim injunction.

The Court ordered:

1. Injunction Against Use of Mark: The defendant and all those acting on their behalf are restrained from using “FABINDIA” as part of their trade name or for any products/services. This order will take effect after three months, giving the defendant time to rebrand.

2. Disclosure of Sales and Commencement Date: The defendant must disclose their annual sales and the date of commencement of operations through an affidavit certified by a Chartered Accountant, within four weeks.

Conclusion

The Court’s order highlights the importance of protecting well-established trademarks from unauthorized and deceptive use. By granting the interim relief sought by Fabindia, the Court underscored the necessity of maintaining the integrity of registered trademarks and preventing consumer confusion. The next hearing is scheduled for September 17, 2024, where further proceedings will continue based on the compliance and submissions from both parties.

Author :- Susmita Sarkar (Legal Intern)
Aumirah Insights

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