The court ruled in favour of Intex, dismissing a single judge order restricting the mobile manufacturer to use the name Aqua on its products
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 15, 2017
The Delhi High Court has allowed mobile manufacturer Intex Technologies to sell its Aqua branded mobiles and accessories in the local market. With this judgement, the court has dismissed an order passed by a single judge, also rejecting an injunction application.
AZ Tech had claimed that it had been selling mobile handsets under the brand name Aqua since 2009 and that Intex was trying to leverage on the former’s goodwill. In 2012, according to AZ Tech’s allegation, Intex had opted for a similar trademark.
According to the High Court order, “We are of the view that AZ Tech has not been able to establish that it has a goodwill/reputation in the mark in August 2012 when Intex launched its product under the mark ‘Aqua’.”
The Division Bench of Delhi High Court delivered the verdict after a plea filed by Intex Technologies against the order passed by a single judge in December 2016.
The court concluded, “We feel that the respondents (M/s AZ Tech and Peace Zone (HK) Ltd.) have neither made out a prima facie case in their favour nor is the balance of convenience in their favour. In fact, irreparable injury would be caused to the appellants (Intex) if an injunction were to be granted or continued. And above all, the conduct of the respondents has not been honest, to say the least. This by itself disentitled the respondents from getting an order of injunction in their favour.”
The court found that Intex had prominently used its house mark Intex on its mobile phones and the prominence given to Intex was as much, if not more, as that given to Aqua. This added matter was prominent and distinct so as to dispel any chance of confusion. According to the court, the added matter was sufficient to distinguish Intex’s products from those of AZ Tech.
The court also made several observations on the ‘dishonest conduct’ of the respondent (M/S AZ Tech) in reportedly copying the font and style of the logo used by Intex. The court was of the view that the AZ Tech’s conduct was dishonest and this would disentitle the respondents to remedy of injunction. The court noted that no explanation was forthcoming from the respondents for their act of ‘deliberately copying’ the Intex logo in style, font and colour scheme.
The court also found that the respondents’ conduct of using the ® symbol, despite the fact that the mark was not registered in India, was also not honest. The court also looked at Intex’s sales figures running into thousands of crores and found that the balance of convenience was in Intex’s favour and that irreparable injury would be caused to Intex by an injunction.
Based on the respondents’ conduct, the court also noted that instead of Intex passing off the respondents’ goods, it appeared to be the other way around and went on to observe “Prima facie, this would amount to a deliberate act of copying in an attempt to ride on the reputation and goodwill of appellant (Intex).”