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Bad Faith and Trademark Rectification

Trademark law places a significant onus on trademark registrants to act in good faith when seeking registration and using their marks. In this article, we delve into the case of ROCKPAPA, a brand specializing in children's products, and explore the concept of "bad faith" in trademark registration, particularly in the context of trademark cancellation.

ROCKPAPA, founded in 2014 in the UK, swiftly gained international recognition for its children's products, including headphones, pencil boxes, and school bags. The brand's trademark, 'ROCKPAPA,' became widely associated with quality and innovation, extending its reach to the USA, Canada, Australia, and India in subsequent years.

In contrast, Respondent No.2 applied for the registration of the mark 'ROCKPAPA' on January 7, 2020. The mark was officially registered under Certificate No. 2500462 on September 13, 2020, as per Trade Mark Journal No. 1966. This registration stands as the focal point of the ongoing dispute.

Understanding Bad Faith:
In trademark law, "bad faith" refers to an unfair practice characterized by a lack of honest intention, a deliberate wrongdoing, and actions that deviate from accepted standards of commercial behavior.

It entails an intention to capitalize on the goodwill associated with another party's trademark. In the case of ROCKPAPA, it is crucial to scrutinize whether Respondent No.2's adoption of the trademark 'ROCKPAPA' was conducted in bad faith.

Evidence of Bad Faith:
Several aspects of Respondent No.2's actions suggest bad faith:
  1. Similarity in Mark:
    Respondent No.2 adopted a mark, 'ROCKPAPA,' strikingly similar to the Petitioner's established trademark. This similarity extended to the use of identical wording color, font, and style. Such a blatant replication raises suspicions of an intention to confuse consumers and capitalize on the goodwill associated with the original mark.
  2. Identical Goods:
    Both parties were involved in the production and sale of children's products, creating direct competition. Respondent No.2's use of 'ROCKPAPA' for identical goods further reinforces the notion of an intention to ride on the coattails of the Petitioner's brand.
  3. Lack of Contest:
    Perhaps the most telling sign of bad faith is Respondent No.2's non-contestation. In the face of the Petitioner's challenge, Respondent No.2 failed to appear in the matter, did not file a counter statement, and provided no evidence to rebut the claims of prior usage. This lack of response implies a consciousness of wrongdoing and an unwillingness to defend the legitimacy of the mark.

Trademark Cancellation:

Given the evidence of bad faith, the impugned trademark 'ROCKPAPA' is vulnerable to cancellation. Trademark cancellation is a legal process that rectifies the register by removing marks that were improperly registered. In this case, it seeks to protect the integrity of the trademark system by eliminating marks that were registered in violation of the principles of good faith and fair competition.

The Concluding Note:
Trademark law is fundamentally rooted in the principles of honesty, fair competition, and protection of intellectual property rights. The case of ROCKPAPA underscores the importance of maintaining these principles in trademark registration. Respondent No.2's adoption of the mark 'ROCKPAPA' for identical goods, coupled with the absence of contestation, strongly suggests bad faith. As such, the impugned trademark should rightfully be canceled to uphold the integrity of the trademark system and protect the interests of honest trademark holders like the Petitioner.

Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Kia Wang Vs Registrar of Trademark
Date of Judgement:15/09/2023
Case No. C.O.(COMM.IPD-TM)02/2021
Neutral Citation No: 2023:DHC:6684
Name of Hon'ble Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Jyoti Singh, H.J.

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

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


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