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Use of House Mark as Prefix and Trademark Infringement

This article discusses a legal case involving the use of a house mark as a prefix with another trademark and its potential implications for trademark infringement.

The case revolves around a plaintiff who claimed ownership of the trademark "PEBBLE" and filed a suit against a defendant using the trademark "CROMPTON PEBBLE" for dry irons.

The defendant argued that the use of the house mark "CROMPTON" distinguished its products from the plaintiff's, but the court rejected this defense and restrained the defendant from using the trademark "PEBBLE."

The plaintiff was the registered proprietor of the trademark "PEBBLE" under no. 2503134 in Class 11 for water heaters, electric water heaters, heating coils, electric water geysers, etc. The defendant was using the trademark "CROMPTON PEBBLE" in relation to dry irons, which the plaintiff alleged to infringe upon their registered trademark.

Defendant's Defense:
The defendant argued that there would be no confusion among the public since they were using "CROMPTON PEBBLE" and not "PEBBLE" for dry irons, which were not sold by the plaintiff.

They contended that their products were known for their quality and were sold in the market with various product identification marks associated with the house mark "CROMPTON."

The defendant further asserted that the plaintiff could not claim exclusive rights to the word "PEBBLE" and, therefore, could not allege infringement against "CROMPTON PEBBLE."

Court's Ruling:
The court rejected the defendant's contentions by observing that the Trade Marks Act does not recognize the concept of sub branding.

In cases of infringement involving label or word marks, the test for infringement is based on the prominent word of the mark.

Therefore, adopting a prominent word from the plaintiff's label/device mark, as the defendant did with "PEBBLE," constitutes infringement.

In this case, "PEBBLE" was an essential part of the plaintiff's registered trademark, and the defendant could not argue for exclusive use of the word based on registration.

Additionally, the court noted that the defendant had consistently used the mark "PEBBLE" with its house mark "CROMPTON" as a source identifier for its products.

The plaintiff had been using the registered mark/label with the dominant part being the word "PEBBLE" since 2013.

The defendant's lack of a plausible explanation for adopting the word "PEBBLE" in conjunction with "CROMPTON" further strengthened the court's decision.

The Concluding Note:
In light of the court's observations, the defendant was restrained from using the trademark "PEBBLE."

The case highlights the importance of not using prominent words from other trademarks as part of a new trademark, even if a house mark is used as a prefix.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: V Guard Industries Ltd Vs Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Ltd
Date of Judgement/Order:12.05.2022
Case No. CS Comm 92 of 2022
Neutral Citation: NA
Name of Hon'ble Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Jyoti Singh, H.J.


Information contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for legal advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the facts and law involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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