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The Significance of Proving Actual Trademark Confusion in Assessing Similarity

This legal article delves into the pivotal aspect of establishing actual trademark confusion when comparing trademarks, as demonstrated by a recent case under Section 91 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

The appellant contested the dismissal of their opposition against the trademark 'RASANAND,' asserting similarity with their registered mark 'RASNA.' The Hon'ble High Court, in its verdict, emphasized the necessity of proving actual confusion and scrutinized the distinctiveness of the marks in various aspects phonetically, graphically, visually, and structurally.

The case under consideration involves a Trade Marks Act, 1999 appeal against the Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks' order dated 12.7.2023.

The appellant argued against the dismissal of their opposition, asserting that 'RASANAND' and 'RASNA' were deceptively similar. The Hon'ble High Court's analysis focused on the perceptible differences between the two marks and the absence of demonstrated confusion in the market.

Distinctiveness of Marks:
The court examined the phonetic, graphic, visual, and structural elements of 'RASNA' and 'RASANAND.' It concluded that, ex-facie, the marks exhibited distinctiveness. This thorough assessment highlights the court's commitment to scrutinizing trademarks comprehensively, emphasizing the need for clarity in differentiating between marks to prevent consumer confusion.

Absence of Deceptive Similarity:
The Hon'ble High Court's dismissal of the appeal rested on the determination that 'RASANAND' was not deceptively similar to the registered mark 'RASNA.' The court underscored the lack of confusion among consumers actively seeking the product 'RASNA.' This underscores the court's commitment to protecting consumers from potential confusion in the marketplace.

Role of Actual Confusion in Trademark Disputes:
A crucial aspect leading to the dismissal of the appeal was the appellant's failure to present evidence demonstrating actual confusion between 'RASNA' and 'RASANAND.' Despite 'RASANAND' co-existing in the market for over 19 years, the absence of documented cases of confusion played a pivotal role in the court's decision. This reiterates the significance of tangible proof of confusion in trademark disputes.

The Concluding Note:
This case underscores the importance of proving actual confusion in trademark disputes. The Hon'ble High Court's emphasis on distinctiveness and the absence of demonstrated confusion reinforces the principle that legal determinations in trademark matters must be grounded in tangible evidence.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Piruz Khambatta Vs Deputy Registrar of Trademarks

Date of Judgement/Order:04.12.2023
Case No. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 18 of 202
Neutral Citation No:NA
Name of Hon'ble Court: Gujarat High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Niral R Mehta, HJ

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are 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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