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Daimler Benz Aktiegesellschaft vs Hybo Hindustan



Citation: AIR 1994 Delhi 2369

Date of Judgement: 10th November 1993

Court: Delhi High Court

Bench: Justice M Narain


Facts:

Hybo Hindustan adopted a “Three Pointed Human Being in a Ring” mark for trading in the business of undergarments. Daimler Benz claimed that the said mark infringed their well-reputed “Three-pointed star in a circle” device.


Issues:

Whether Hybo Hindustan infringed Daimler Benz’s mark despite operating in different industries?


Analysis

The Delhi High Court established that “Mercedes Benz” along with their symbol is a well-reputed brand that is known in every Indian household. It reiterates that a symbol of such stature should not be “up for grabs” for any business owner regardless of the industry they operate in.

Hybo Hindustan relied on numerous cases such as Amritdhara Pharmacy v. Satya Deo Gupta to evoke the defense of “honest and concurrent use”, only to be rejected by the Court due to Daimler’s dominating presence across the world. Hybo Hindustan also relied on a plethora of other defenses to weaken the “Benz” mark; one such claim was that the mark is a common German surname and should be made available for all to use. However, the Court rejected all defenses raised by Hybo Hindustan and granted the injunction to stop the infringement of Daimler’s mark.


Conclusion

This was one of the first trademark cases where the court considered a brand’s reputation across borders despite its limited presence in the Indian market. Further, it dwelled on the concepts of trademark dilution (though not expressly mentioning the term) as both brands operated in distinct product markets.


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