Monday, 24 January 2022

trademark infringement by kanishq dhas

      India being a mixed market, has many industries that operate under the free market concept. The competition in the market system is extreme. For any enterprise to thrive in the open market, they have to create brand recognition and brand value. The simplest way through which this is achieved is via trademarks.

The need for trademarks can be considered a three-prong approach to represent goods or services by:

Helping consumers recognise the source

Helping consumers determine the quality

Helping consumers make a purchasing decision

    Once such value is attached to the trademark, it is imperative to protect it from misuse and infringement by others.

    The Trademarks Act, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) is the legislation that protects trademarks in India. The Act lays down the rules dealing with registration, protection and penalties against infringement regarding trademarks. Trademarks are given the status of intellectual property across the globe. There are many organisations, both international and national, that endeavour to protect intellectual properties such as trademarks. In India, the organisation that deals with the protection of trademarks are the Indian Patent Office administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. In simple words, trademark infringement is the unauthorised usage of a mark that is identical or deceptively similar to a registered trademark. The term deceptively similar here means that when an average consumer looks at the mark, it is likely to confuse him/her of the origin of the goods or services.

    There are mainly two types of trademark infringements, direct and indirect infringement. Direct infringement is defined by Section 29 of the Act. There a few elements that have to be met for a direct breach to occur, for example use by an unauthorised person, this means that violation of a trademark only happens when the mark is used by a person who is not authorised by the holder of the registered trademark. If the mark is used with the authorisation of the holder of the registered trademark, it does not constitute infringement.

     The trademark used by the unauthorised person needs to either be identical to that of the registered trademark or deceptively similar to it. The term ‘deceptively similar’ here only means that the common consumer ‘may’ be confused between the marks and may think of them being the same. The operational word here being ‘may’, it only needs to be proven that this is a possibility and does not require proof of actually happening. As long as there is a chance of misrecognition of the marks, it is enough for proving infringement.

     The Act only extends protection to trademarks that have been registered with the trademark registry of India. In the case of breach of an unregistered mark, the common law of passing off is used to settle disputes. It is a tort law that is used where injury or damage is caused to the goodwill associated with the activities of another person or group of persons.

     For the infringement of the trademark, the unauthorised use of the mark has to be used for the propagation of goods or services that fall under the same class of the registered trademark.

     Unlike direct infringement, there is no provision in the Act that deals with indirect infringement specifically. This does not mean that there is no liability for indirect infringement. The principle and application of indirect infringement arise from the universal law principle. It holds accountable not only the principal infringer but also anyone that abets, induces that direct offender to infringe. There are two types of indirect infringement : 

Vicarious liability - According to Section 114 of the Act, if a company commits an offence under this Act, then the whole company will be liable.

Contributory infringement - There are only three basic elements to contributory infringement:- When the person knows of the infringement – When the person materially contributes to the direct infringement – When the person induces the principal infringer to commit infringement In the case of contributory infringement.

     In India, the infringement of a trademark is a cognisable offence which means that the infringer may also face criminal charges along with civil charges. It is also not required by the Indian law for the trademark to be registered for the institution of civil or criminal proceedings

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