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Case Law Summary: HDFC Bank Limited v/s The Registrar of Trademarks

Facts of the Case:
The present case involves a petition filed by HDFC Bank Limited challenging the order passed by the Registrar of Trademarks refusing the registration of the trademark "MILLENNIA" under Section 11 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The petitioner argued that the reason recorded in the impugned order for refusal of registration is not supported by the evidence and that the Registrar failed to consider the material submitted by the petitioner. The petitioner specifically requested the deletion of certain services from its application and provided a list of services for which it sought registration.

Court and Bench:
The case was heard in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in the Ordinary Original Civil Jurisdiction. The bench comprised Justice Manish Pitale.

Issues Involved:
The main issue in this case was whether the Registrar's refusal to register the petitioner's trademark "MILLENNIA" under Section 11 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 was justified. The court needed to examine whether there was a likelihood of confusion between the petitioner's trademark and an earlier registered trademark for similar services.

Petitioner's Argument:
The petitioner argued that the Registrar's decision was unjustified. They contended that the services for which they sought registration were distinct from those offered by the entity holding the earlier registered trademark. The petitioner also emphasized that the two trademarks were device marks, and the Registrar erred in finding similarity between them. They referred to previous judgments to support their argument and suggested that the court should direct the Registrar to accept and advertise the mark.

Respondent's Argument:
The respondent did not appear before the court, and no arguments were presented on their behalf.

The court examined the impugned order and found that the Registrar had refused registration based on the likelihood of confusion between the petitioner's trademark and the earlier registered trademark. Although both trademarks were device marks, the court did not accept the petitioner's contention that they were distinct and distinguishable. However, the court noted that the Registrar had ignored the fact that the petitioner had requested the deletion of certain services and specified the services for which they sought registration. The court held that the Registrar's order lacked a reasoned analysis of whether the restricted application for registration deserved approval and if there was similarity between the marks.

The court further observed that the Registrar had failed to consider the contentions raised in the petitioner's reply to the examination report. The court concluded that the impugned order was passed mechanically without proper application of mind. While setting aside the order, the court remanded the matter back to the Registrar for fresh consideration, allowing the petitioner to submit additional materials to support their application for registration. The court left the decision regarding acceptance and advertisement of the mark open for the Registrar to determine.

In conclusion, the court quashed the impugned order and partly allowed the petition. The matter was remanded to the Registrar for fresh consideration, giving the petitioner an opportunity to submit additional evidence. The court directed the Registrar to dispose of the application within a specified timeline. The petitioner was granted liberty to present a copy of the court's order to the Registrar for further action.

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