The Delhi High Court vide its judgment dated July 04, 2018 in a case titled Rohit Singh vs. Apple Inc. ruled in favour of Apple in a suit for passing off. The said suit was filed by the plaintiffs, Rohit Singh and Vyooh Low Level Computing LL for an injunction to restrain the defendant Apple Inc. USA from using the mark "SPLITVIEW‟ in relation to any of its software products. Apple primarily argued that the phrase "SPLITVIEW is inherently descriptive as it describes the characteristics and the intended purpose of product with respect to which it is used. It was argued that the plaintiff's product "SPLITVIEW‟, which is a descriptive term, informs the users of the precise "view" "splitting" function of the plaintiff's software. Apple further argued that the combination of the terms "Split" and "View‟ was in no way unique to the plaintiffs and there were at least 1839 patents with a priority date before September, 2005 which used the combination terms "SPLITVIEW‟ or the phrase "SPLITVIEW". The main contention of the Plaintiff was that its trade mark "SplitView" was not a dictionary word but a unique combination of two English language words and was not descriptive and merely because third parties were also using the term "SPLITVIEW", did not make the term descriptive.
The Delhi High Court after hearing the parties refused to grant the interim injunction against the use of the term SPLITVIEW by Apple. The Court observed that at the stage of interim injunction application, it is required to protect the plaintiffs, only if finds the defendant to be passing off its goods or services as that of the plaintiffs. The Court held that in an action for passing off, the plaintiff cannot be entitled to interim injunction, if the use by the defendant of the phrase / term "SPLITVIEW", whether as a trade mark of one of the features of its product or as descriptive of the said feature, will buy the product of the defendant assuming it to be that of the plaintiffs. The Court held that the plaintiff's contentions of suffering injury of dilution by wrongful association of the plaintiff's products with that of the defendant or by reverse confusion are questions which can be adjudicated only after trial. The suit has now been fixed for trial wherein several issues including the question on descriptiveness of Plaintiff's trademark SPLITVIEW have been framed.
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