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Trade Mark Infringement in Relation to Pattern of a Product

The case in question involves a well-known company engaged in the manufacturing, selling, and distribution of construction materials, including Thermo-Mechanically Treated (TMT) bars. This company, the plaintiff, has been producing TMT bars with a distinctive "X-ribs" surface pattern since 2001, a feature that has become synonymous with their brand.

The plaintiff holds several registered trademarks, including the wordmark "X-RIBS" (registration No. 1304153, dated August 20, 2004) and the SRMB 3-D Device mark featuring the "X-ribs" pattern (registration dated September 20, 2020). These registrations confer exclusive rights to use these marks on their products.

In January 2020, the plaintiff discovered that the defendant was manufacturing, selling, and advertising TMT bars with an identical or deceptively similar "X-ribs" pattern. This led to the filing of a trademark infringement suit, alleging that the defendant was unlawfully using the plaintiff's registered marks.

Legal Analysis:
"The central issue in this case is the alleged infringement of the plaintiff's registered pattern trademarks by the defendant." Trademark infringement occurs when an unauthorized party uses a mark that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark, potentially leading to consumer confusion and dilution of the original trademark's value.

Plaintiff's Argument:
The plaintiff argued that they have acquired common law rights to the "X-RIBS" pattern/trademark/trade dress through extensive use since 2001. These rights, coupled with their registered trademarks, grant them exclusive rights to use the "X-ribs" pattern on their TMT bars. The plaintiff contended that the defendant's use of the identical "X-ribs" pattern was intended to mislead consumers into believing that the defendant's products were associated with or endorsed by the plaintiff, thereby capitalizing on the plaintiff's goodwill.

The plaintiff further argued that the defendant's actions constituted a deliberate attempt to pass off their TMT bars as those of the plaintiff. This misrepresentation could deceive the general public and harm the plaintiff's reputation and business interests.

Court's Findings:
The court conducted a comparative analysis of the marks used by both parties. It was evident that the defendant had cleverly used the pattern trademark "X-Ribs" in a manner that closely mimicked the plaintiff's registered pattern mark. The court noted that the plaintiff had established common law rights to the "X-Ribs" pattern through continuous and extensive use, further solidifying their claim to exclusive use of the mark.

The court held that the defendant's use of the "X-ribs" pattern on their TMT bars constituted trademark infringement under Section 29(4) (a), (b), and (c) of the Trade Marks Act. These sections address the unauthorized use of a registered trademark in a way that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or association with the registered owner's goods or services.

The court observed that the defendant's actions were likely to cause confusion among consumers, leading them to believe that the defendant's TMT bars were either produced by the plaintiff or were a variant of the plaintiff's products. This misrepresentation was deemed a deliberate attempt to appropriate the plaintiff's goodwill and reputation. In light of the evidence presented, the court decreed in favor of the plaintiff. "The court ruled that the defendant's use of the "X-ribs" pattern infringed upon the plaintiff's registered pattern trademarks and was likely to cause confusion and deception among the general public."

The plaintiff's ability to demonstrate long-term use and registration of the "X-Ribs" pattern was crucial in securing a favorable judgment. It also highlights the courts' role in enforcing trademark rights and deterring infringing activities that exploit established goodwill. This decision reinforces the principle that trademarks, including distinctive product patterns, are vital assets deserving robust legal protection.

Case Citation: Srmb Srijan Private Limited Vs Uma Shankar Jaiswal: 25.06.2024: CS-COM 224 of 2024 : Calcutta High Court: Krishna Rao, H.J.

The information shared here is intended to serve the public interest by offering insights and perspectives. However, readers are advised to exercise their own discretion when interpreting and applying this information. The content herein is subjective and may contain errors in perception, interpretation, and presentation.

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

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