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Visually Dissimilar but Phonetically Similar Trademark

In a recent trademark dispute, the plaintiff sought a permanent injunction restraining the defendant from using the trademark 'RALLEYZ' or any other marks deceptively similar to the plaintiff's trademark 'RALEIGH.' The plaintiff alleged that the defendant's mark was phonetically similar to theirs and used for identical goods, bicycles.

Plaintiff's Contentions:
The plaintiff claimed extensive commercial use of the 'RALEIGH' mark since 1939, with substantial goodwill and recognition in the market. They argued that their mark was inherently distinctive and had acquired secondary meaning through continuous use. The plaintiff also pointed out their website,, registered in 1998, as evidence of their trademark rights.

Interim Relief Granted:
The court granted interim relief in favor of the plaintiff, acknowledging the phonetic similarity between 'RALEIGH' and 'RALLEYZ.' It emphasized that in a linguistically diverse country like India, where accents and dialects vary widely, the pronunciation of words can differ significantly. Thus, the argument that 'RALEIGH' and 'RALLEYZ' are not phonetically similar was deemed untenable. The court noted that the defendant's mark was phonetically close to the plaintiff's, likely to cause confusion among consumers.

This case underscores the importance of considering phonetic similarities in trademark disputes, especially in linguistically diverse regions. While marks may appear visually dissimilar, their pronunciation and phonetic resemblance are crucial factors in determining likelihood of confusion among consumers. The court's decision highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of linguistic variations and accents prevalent in the market where the trademarks are used.

Trademark disputes involving phonetically similar marks require careful analysis of pronunciation and linguistic factors. Courts must consider the diverse linguistic landscape of the jurisdiction and assess the likelihood of consumer confusion based on phonetic similarities. This case sets a precedent for recognizing the importance of phonetic resemblance in trademark infringement cases and emphasizes the need for comprehensive evaluation of linguistic nuances in such disputes.

Case Title: Swiss Bike Vertriebs GMBH Vs Reliance Brands Limited
Order Date: 04.03.2024
Case No. CS COMM 25 of 2023
Neutral Citation:2024:DHC:1884
Name of Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Anish Dayal, H.J.

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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