Trademark case: HC denies relief to fashion magazine
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.”