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Defense on the Basis of Erroneously Granted Trademark Registration

The case concerning the trademarks 'GK hair' of the Plaintiff and 'GK wellness' of the Defendants delves into the intricacies of trademark registration and its implications on legal defenses.

The Plaintiff had been utilizing the trademark 'GK hair' since 2010 concerning hair care products and had obtained rightful registration for the same. Contrarily, the Defendant secured a trademark registration for 'GK wellness' in 2021. The contention arose from the Plaintiff's assertion that the Defendant's trademark registration was erroneously granted, sidestepping the established procedure of trademark registration.

The Doctrine of Prima Facie Invalidity:
The cornerstone of the dispute lies in the principle that no legal right can emanate from an illegal act. The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi's pronouncement emphasizes this doctrine. When a trademark registration is obtained in contravention of the statutory scheme, such a registration is deemed invalid from its inception, known as 'prima facie invalid ab initio'.

The term 'ab initio' signifies that the act or decision was flawed right from the beginning. In this context, the grant of trademark registration to the Defendant was flawed due to the failure to consider the timely opposition raised by the Plaintiff. Consequently, any rights purportedly derived from such an erroneously granted registration stand on shaky legal ground.

Implications for the Defendant:
The ramifications of holding a trademark that is prima facie invalid:

One of the primary benefits of trademark registration is the exclusive right to use the mark concerning the goods or services it represents. However, an erroneously granted registration deprives the registrant of this exclusive right.

The Concluding Note:
The defense predicated on an erroneously granted trademark registration, as illustrated by the case between the Plaintiff's 'GK hair' and the Defendant's 'GK wellness', is untenable in the eyes of the law.

The doctrine of prima facie invalidity reinforces the sanctity of the statutory scheme governing trademark registration, ensuring that rights emanate from legitimate and procedurally sound actions.

Consequently, a registrant cannot shield themselves from legal repercussions or claim exclusive rights based on a registration obtained through circumvention of established procedures.

Case Title: Van Tiboli Vs K Srinivas Rao
Date of Judgement/Order:26.12.2023
Case No. CS Comm 339 of 2023
Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:9407
Name of Hon'ble Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: C Hari Shankar

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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