In a recent legal case, the question arose as to whether the legal heirs of a
deceased partner of a partnership firm should be impleaded in a trademark
cancellation proceeding. The trademark in question had been registered in the
name of "Saroj Rani, Anil Garg, Sunil Garg, trading as M/s Kuria Mal and Sons."
However, the impugned registration was initially issued to "Kuria Mal Gopi Chand,"
in which Saroj Rani was a partner. During the pendency of the cancellation
proceeding, Saroj Rani passed away. The central issue before the court was
whether the legal heirs of Saroj Rani should be made parties to the cancellation
The Petitioner's Argument:
The petitioner in this case contended that the impugned trademark registration
was initially issued to the partnership firm "Kuria Mal Gopi Chand," of which
Saroj Rani was a partner. Importantly, the petitioner argued that this
partnership continued to exist even after the demise of one of its partners,
Saroj Rani. Therefore, the legal heirs of the deceased partner, Saroj Rani, need
not be impleaded in the cancellation proceeding.
The Court's Ruling:
The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi approved the petitioner's submission and held
that the legal heirs of a deceased partner of a partnership firm are not
required to be impleaded in a cancellation proceeding under the circumstances
described in this case.
This ruling by the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi raises several important legal
and practical considerations, which can be analyzed as follows:
Continuation of Partnership:
The core argument in favor of not impleading the legal heirs of Saroj Rani was
that the partnership firm "Kuria Mal Gopi Chand" continued to exist even after
Saroj Rani's demise. In such cases, it can be argued that the partnership
entity, as a separate legal entity, remains responsible for its obligations and
liabilities, including any legal disputes involving trademarks or other assets.
Legal Personality of a Partnership Firm:
Partnership firms in many legal systems are considered separate legal entities
distinct from their individual partners. This legal personality allows them to
own property, enter into contracts, and be parties to legal proceedings. In this
context, the court's decision aligns with the recognition of the partnership
firm as an independent legal entity capable of defending its interests and
Efficiency and Streamlining of Legal Proceedings:
Impleading the legal heirs of a deceased partner can often complicate legal
proceedings. It may require identifying and serving notice to multiple
individuals, potentially residing in different locations, which can lead to
delays and increased administrative burdens. The court's decision reflects an
inclination towards streamlining legal proceedings by focusing on the
partnership entity itself.
Exceptions to the Rule:
While this case establishes a general principle that legal heirs need not be
impleaded when the partnership firm continues to exist, exceptions may arise in
certain situations. For instance, if the partnership agreement explicitly
specifies the procedure to follow in the event of a partner's death, or if local
laws require the legal heirs to be notified, these factors may override the
Protection of the Interests of Legal Heirs:
It is important to note that the court's decision does not negate the rights and
interests of the legal heirs of a deceased partner. They may still have a claim
to the deceased partner's share in the partnership, and their rights and
interests should be safeguarded through appropriate legal channels, which may
include proceedings separate from the cancellation of a trademark registration.
The Concluding Note:
The ruling by the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in this case provides valuable
insights into the treatment of legal heirs in partnership firm-related
cancellation proceedings. It underscores the legal recognition of a partnership
firm as a distinct legal entity, capable of maintaining its rights and
obligations even after the death of one of its partners, under certain
However, this decision should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all
rule, as exceptions may apply based on specific partnership agreements and legal
requirements. Overall, it emphasizes the need for a nuanced approach when
dealing with the complexities of partnership law and trademark cancellations
involving partnership entities.
Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Satish Chand Gupta Vs Saroj Rani
Date of Judgement:24/01/2023
Case No. Co Comm IPD TM 46 of 2021
Neutral Citation No: N.A.
Name of Hon'ble Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: C Hari Shankar 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
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539