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Bajaj Electricals Ltd. v. Gourav Bajaj & Anr.



Citation: 2020 (82) PTC 40 (Bom)

Court: Bombay High Court

Bench: Honourable Justice B.P. Colabawalla


Facts:

Bajaj Electricals Ltd. (“Bajaj”) filed an application for an interim injunction to restrain Defendant No. 1, Gourav Bajaj (“Gourav”), who operated two retail electrical appliance stores in Punjab under the name “Bajaj” as “Apna Bajaj Store” and “Bajaj Excellent”. In addition to the latter, a domain name – www.apnabajajstore.com was operated by Gourav. Despite having been sent numerous notices, Gourav failed to appear at court. In light of the above facts, Bajaj prayed for a temporary injunction restraining Gourav’s infringing activity, which comprised the use of Bajaj’s registered trademark “BAJAJ” in their business, label, and domain label. The injunction prayed for was to prevent use that included publishing, reproducing, or communicating to the public or usage in any other manner.


Issues:

Whether Gourav’s usage of the term “Bajaj” constituted an infringement and a passing off of Bajajs' registered trademarks and copyrights?


Laws:

Section 14(c) of the Copyright Act 1957 and Section 14 of the Trademarks Act, 1999.


Analysis:

Bajaj contended that the mark “Bajaj” was a well-known trademark and has had goodwill for several years, being one of the oldest businesses in the country. It was also argued that “Bajaj” was declared as a well-known trademark by the Bombay High Court in 1987 in Bajaj Electricals Limited v. Metals & Allied Products and Anr. (AIR 1988 Bom 167). Upon hearing the submissions by Bajaj, the bench held that there was prima facie proof sufficient to show that “Bajaj” – registered trademark, and artistic labels were the acquired right of Bajaj.


Thus, it was held that the impugned trademark, label, and domain used in respect of the impugned goods or services of Gourav were nearly identical and similar to Bajaj’s mark (Bajaj). In light of the above, the bench observed a strong prima facie case and granted a temporary injunction in favor of Bajaj.


Conclusion:

The use of a common surname or family name as a trademark may not necessarily be objectionable, but it is necessary to examine the overall context in which the mark is used to determine whether it amounts to infringement or not (whether the mark has acquired distinctiveness, whether it is a well-known mark, etc.).


The case exemplifies that a trademark owner can sue for infringement even if their trademark has not been used in the exact form as it is registered, as long as the essential features of the mark have been used. Having reinforced basic legal principles governing trademark infringement, this case has also contributed to trademark jurisprudence of stronger protection for well-known trademarks and to prevent their dilution by unrelated third parties.

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