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Goodwill Of A Partnership Firm And Its Entitlement

The case at hand involves a complex legal dispute surrounding the trademark "FOX & MANDAL" and a passing-off lawsuit filed by Petitioner No. 1, a partnership company, against Respondents No. 1 and 2. This article delves into the key legal arguments and decisions made by the Honorable Court in this matter.

The Respondents claimed to presented themselves to been providing legal services since 1896, and associated with Petitioner No 1 firm Both parties hold trademark registrations for it. The crux of the issue lies in the alleged attempt by Respondents No. 1 and 2 to pass off their services as those of Petitioner No. 1, emphasizing a 125-year legacy.

A crucial aspect of this case is the involvement of Respondent No. 1, who is the son of one of the partners of Petitioner No. 1 firm. Furthermore, Respondent No. 2 was formed by one of the former partners of Petitioner No. 1 and father of Respondent No 1 .These intricate relationships add layers of complexity to the dispute.

The Grievance and Arguments:
The crux of the Petitioners' grievance stems from articles published on October 15, 2022, in various newspapers and online portals, which referred to Respondents No. 1 and 2 as India's oldest law firm since 1896. This led to the passing-off lawsuit filed by Petitioner No. 1.

In response, the Respondents argued that Petitioner No. 1 lacked the exclusive ownership to possess the "Fox & Mandal" trademarks. They contended that, since the passing of father of Respondent No 1, the Mandal family has retained ownership of the family marks, including variations like "Fox and Mondal" or "F & M." Additionally, Respondent No. 1 claimed ownership of a portion of late Dinabandhu Mandal's goodwill associated with Petitioner No. 1 firm.

The Legal Analysis:
The Honorable Court's analysis hinged on the fundamental principle that any goodwill generated by a partnership is considered an asset of the partnership itself. Although each partner may have an interest in the partnership's assets, this does not translate into individual ownership of those assets.

In this context, the Court established that Petitioner firm unequivocally owns the goodwill associated with the trademark "Fox & Mandal." Consequently, the Court's decision affirmed that Respondents No. 1 and 2 are not entitled, under any circumstances, to use Petitioner No. 1's trademarks or business name.

The Concluding Note:
The Court clarified that Respondent No. 1, as the successor of the late Dinabandhu Mandal, is solely entitled to monetary compensation for any claim related to the goodwill but not to the use of the trademarks or business name. As a temporary remedy, an injunction was issued against the Respondents to prevent further infringement. This case serves as a significant legal precedent emphasizing the principle that goodwill of a partnership firm is an asset belonging to the firm itself.

Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Fox & Mandal and Ors Vs Somabrata Mandal and Ors
Date of Judgement:27/09/2023
Case No. CS. No.269 of 2022
Neutral Citation No: N.A.
Name of Hon'ble Court: High Court of Calcutta
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Ravi Krishan Kapur , 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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