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Trademark infringement: SC directs 'London Pride' whisky maker to consider changing packaging

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Jan 22 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday directed a Madhya Pradesh-based company which manufactures and sells whisky under the trade mark 'London Pride' to inform if it was willing to change the trade dress and colour of its product as they were similar to liquor major Pernod Ricard India Pvt Ltd's 'Blenders Pride' and 'Imperial Blue' whisky.

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A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud asked senior advocate S Muralidhar, appearing for brand 'London Pride', to seek instructions and inform it about the company's response by the next date of hearing.

"Why have you ('London Pride') adopted the same trade dress and colour and all? Get instructions on whether you will change the trade dress and colour (visual appearance of a product)," the bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

The apex court said it will hear arguments on the issue of trademark dispute on names at the next hearing.

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The legal battle over the alleged infringement of trademark of the whisky brands witnessed an unusual sight in the Supreme Court on January 5 as liquor bottles were placed before the country's highest court.

The top court was hearing a plea by liquor major Pernod Ricard India Pvt Ltd, which manufactures and sells 'Blenders Pride' and 'Imperial Blue' whisky, against last November's verdict of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Pernod Ricard had approached the high court against an order passed by the commercial court, Indore, which rejected its application for issuance of temporary injunction. The firm had alleged infringement of their trade mark.

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It told the high court it had registered the trade mark in respect of 'Blenders Pride' and 'Imperial Blue' and also has registered trade mark in respect of Seagram's, which is their house mark and appears on their products sold under various brands.

It alleged that JK Enterprises has imitated their trade mark and is manufacturing and selling its whisky under the trade mark 'London Pride'.

The high court had dismissed Pernod Ricard's plea, saying the trial court had not committed any error in holding that no similarity was found in the mark of JK Enterprises which can be said to be such imitation of Pernod Ricard's trade mark.

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Pernod Ricard had argued before the high court that 'Pride' was the most essential and distinctive component of the mark 'Blenders Pride' which they have been using since 1995.

The firm had said they were also using another mark 'Imperial Blue' since 1997 and are selling whisky under the same in distinctive label, packaging and trade dress.

"The plaintiffs (Pernod Ricard) acquired knowledge that defendant is selling London Pride whisky which is deceptively similar to its Blenders Pride trade mark. The whisky of defendant is being sold by putting label, using packaging, getup and trade dress deceptively similar to Imperial Blue," the high court had noted in its verdict.

The other side had said they were manufacturing and selling liquor in the brand name of 'London Pride' in Madhya Pradesh and the trademark 'London Pride' was entirely different in name, style and composition from any of the earlier registered trademarks.

The counsel appearing for the other side had argued before the high court that the overall comparison of the trademarks unmistakably showed that there was no similarity in them which may cause any confusion in the mind of a consumer while purchasing the whisky. PTI PKS SJK PKS SK SK

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