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Challenging The Authenticity Of Invoices At Interim Stage In A Trademark Dispute

The case at hand involves a dispute over trademarks relating to the sale of asafoetida. The plaintiff alleges infringement and passing off of their registered trademark "HOTEL SPECIAL" by the defendant's use of the similar mark "SVT HOTEL SPECIAL". The crux of the matter lies in the authenticity of the invoices presented by the defendant to substantiate their claim of prior use, which has been challenged by the plaintiff.

Legal Framework:
The legal framework governing interim restraint orders under Order 39 Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides the court with discretionary power to grant or refuse such injunctions based on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Plaintiff's Allegations:
The plaintiff asserts that their trademark "HOTEL SPECIAL" has gained goodwill and reputation in the market for the sale of asafoetida. They argue that the defendant's use of the deceptively similar mark is likely to cause confusion among consumers, thereby harming their business interests.

Defendant's Defence:
On the other hand, the defendant contends that they are the prior user of the mark "SVT HOTEL SPECIAL" for asafoetida since 1990. They challenge the validity of the plaintiff's trademark registration and argue that the disputed mark lacks distinctiveness.

Challenge to Invoices:
To discredit the invoices produced by the defendant, the plaintiff presents additional evidence in the form of newspapers dating back to 1990-1996. These newspapers feature advertisements from various traders and merchants with six-digit landline telephone numbers, whereas the defendant's invoices contain seven-digit numbers during the same period.

Court's Observations: The Hon'ble High Court, even at the interim stage, scrutinizes the authenticity of the defendant's invoices. It observes that the discrepancy in the telephone numbers raises serious doubts about the genuineness of the invoices presented by the defendant.

Based on the prima facie evidence presented, the Court discredits the alleged invoices of the defendant, considering them suspicious. Consequently, the Court rejects the defendant's appeal against the interim restraint order.

In intellectual property disputes, particularly concerning trademarks, the authenticity of evidence presented, such as invoices, holds significant weight in determining the outcome of interim restraint orders. The case exemplifies the importance of thorough scrutiny by the court, even at the interim stage, to ensure the integrity of the legal process and protection of the parties' rights. Ultimately, the decision to discredit the defendant's invoices underscores the judiciary's commitment to upholding fairness and justice in intellectual property disputes.

Case Title: S.V.T Products Vs S.S Pandian And Sons
Order Date: 04.04.2024
Case No. MFA NO.2680 OF 2023 (IPR)
Neutral Citation:2024:DHC:2510
Name of Court: Karnataka High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Anant Ramanath Hegde H.J.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as substitute for legal advice as Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation perceived and expressed herein are are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue of law involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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