Raghunandan Kamath-promoted firms Siddhant Icecreams LLP and Kamaths Ourtimes Icecreams Pvt. Ltd. had sought the court’s intervention to restrain Vadodara-based Natural Ice Cream from using the same trade name for their products and claimed damage compensation of over Rs 100 crore.
Lawyers for the Mumbai-based Naturals brand argued that the company was founded in 1984 and has over 130 franchises across the country.
“By using the mark ‘Natural’, which is identical and bears resemblance to the Natural Family Marks (petitioner’s), the defendants (Patel) are misrepresenting their goods/services and businesses,” lawyers for the company said. “Such misrepresentation…is causing or likely to cause confusion or deception for the trade, public and consumers.”
The Mumbai-based company’s lawyers also argued that by such misrepresentation, the defendants are passing off or attempting to pass their goods/business as those of the petitioners as if their franchise parlour is authorised by the company.
Passing-off in IPR law means making a false representation that is likely to induce a person to believe that the goods or services are those of another.
On July 26, while granting interim relief to the Kamaths, the court restrained the Vadodara-based company from using the word “Natural” for their products or as a business/trading name or any other similar name until September 9.
“As far as I am concerned, there is a prima facie case by the plaintiffs against the named defendants,” said Justice GS Patel in a 12-page order. “Clearly, the 2nd defendant has no independent right to use the ‘Natural’ mark. Even if the legend on his signage is to be accepted, his use is only ‘since 1992’. The plaintiffs are registered proprietors with use that can be traced back to 1984.”
The court has directed the respondent (Patel) to file his response by August 6 and has posted the matter to August 17 for further hearing.
Hiren Kamod, an advocate who appeared for Siddhant Icecreams and Kamaths Ourtimes Icecreams, along with senior advocate Viraag Tulzapurkar and law firm ABH Law, confirmed the development but refused to divulge any details since the matter is subjudice.
As per the court order, the petitioner company in 2019-2020 had sold nearly 4.8 million kg of ice-cream under the ‘Natural’ family of marks. The cumulative turnover for the same period stood at Rs 312.7 crore.