Trade­mark case: HC de­nies re­lief to fash­ion mag­a­zine

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Mustafa Plumber p_ mustafa@ dnain­dia. net

The Bom­bay High Court re­fused to grant in­terim re­lief to fash­ion mag­a­zine Vogue, which sought an in­junc­tion against pri­vate com­pany, Just Life Styles, which has re­tail shops across In­dia by the name Just In Vogue, from us­ing its trade­mark. The shops sell lifestyle prod­ucts such as watches, writ­ing in­stru­ments etc.

While re­ject­ing the plea of Ad­vance Mag­a­zine Pub­lish­ers, which has been pub­lish­ing the mag­a­zine in In­dia since 2007, Jus­tice S C Gupte said, “The de­fen­dant is a re­tailer of fash­ion goods and is cer­tainly en­ti­tled to de­scribe his stores as an out­let, which deal in fash­ion­able or trendy goods, that is to say, goods which are “in vogue”. It can­not be said that there is any prima fa­cie case of dis­hon­est adop­tion by them so as to trade on the rep­u­ta­tion or good­will of the mark of the plain­tiff, Vogue.”

The mag­a­zine re­ferred to its rep­u­ta­tion by re­ly­ing on quotes of In­dian celebri­ties’ pub­li­ca­tions in re­puted jour­nals, and cases in var­i­ous courts of the US as well as In­dia, in sup­port of their case that Vogue is a well- known trade­mark, en­ti­tled to pro­tec­tion not only in the classes in which it is reg­is­tered, but also in other classes.

The plea read, “The use of the trade­mark fea­tur­ing promi­nently the word ‘ Vogue’ amounts to an in­fringe­ment of the well- known trade­mark Vogue. Thus, adop­tion of the trade­mark is ex- fa­cie de­lib­er­ate, wil­ful and mala fide with in­tent to cap­i­talise on the good­will and rep­u­ta­tion of the plain­tiffs and give an im­pres­sion to the pub­lic that the ser­vice of the de­fen­dants are as­so­ci­ated with or con­nected to the plain­tiffs.”

Af­ter go­ing through the plea and ar­gu­ments, the court said, “While the plain­tiff ’ s mag­a­zines are read by their con­sumers, the de­fen­dant’s ser­vices are used for buy­ing goods of rep­utable third par­ties. The tar­get users of the plain­tiff goods are in­tel­li­gent, af­flu­ent, well trav­elled women in the age group of 26 to 45 years. On the other hand, cus­tomers of the de­fen­dant are said to be pri­mar­ily men from the mid­dle strata of the so­ci­ety. There is no com­mon­al­ity in the trade chan­nels of the two. Thus, it is ab­surd to sug­gest that dis­cern­ing cus­tomers are likely to some­how imag­ine that th­ese goods or the re­tail ser­vices of­fered by the de­fen­dant in con­nec­tion with them have some trade con­nec­tion or as­so­ci­a­tion with the plain­tiff.”

The court added, “Mag­a­zine pub­lish­ers are not or­di­nar­ily known to be re­tail­ing fash­ion goods, and hardly any­one is likely to be mis­led into be­liev­ing that the mag­a­zine and the fash­ion goods come from the same source.”

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