India: Counterfeiting Louis Vuitton ? – The Delhi High Court Decides.

Last Updated: 20 May 2011
Article by Sonam Lhamu Bhutia

The Delhi High Court in the case of Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Atul Jaggi & Anr., awarded permanent injunction in favour of Louis Vuitton (Plaintiff) thereby restraining Atul Jaggi (the Defendants) from selling any product bearing the "LOUIS VUITTON" mark or any other mark deceptively or confusingly similar to it. Louis Vuitton also claimed an order for delivery up of all finished and unfinished materials and accessories, packaging, labels, dies, blocks and other material bearing any of the Louis Vuitton trademarks or bearing any other mark(s)/logo/device similar thereto for the purpose of erasure/destruction.

The plaintiff is the proprietor of the registered trademark "LOUIS VUITTON" in respect of accessories and variety of leather goods. The mark "LOUIS VUITTON" was coined and has been in use since 1890 and as such, the mark is distinctive and has acquired a worldwide reputation. It was alleged by the Plaintiff that the proprietors of one "Purse Collection" and "M/s, Purse Emporium" with their shops in Karol Bagh, New Delhi had indulged in trademark infringement in similar kinds of goods that were using the "Louis Vuitton" brand or mark.

Previously, the Delhi High Court had directed an ex-parte ad interim injunction in favour of the Plaintiff. In that case it was claimed by Plaintiff that it is a company incorporated under the laws of France and that the name "Louis Vuitton" was derived from the name of its founder, who started creating leather luggage, bags and accessories in Paris from 1954, and had since then gained immense popularity owing to the flawless craftsmanship of the company. It was further claimed that in 1987, Louis Vuitton became part of the Moet Henenssy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Group, which possesses a vast portfolio of around 50 prestigious brands in the world of fashion.

The Plaintiff contended that in addition to the use of the name "Louis Vuitton" as a trademark, the initials of Louis Vuitton, namely "LV", represented in an intertwined manner had also been used as a trademark by the plaintiff since 1890. Jewellery bearing "LV" logo, Toile Monogram and Murakami Monogram sold by the Plaintiff are well known as originating from them and enjoy substantial goodwill and reputation in the market. Louis Vuitton is the first foreign company permitted to set up its own duty free outlets in India . The word mark "Louis Vuitton", the "LV" logo and the monogram patterns, are all registered in India under classes 3,14,18,25 with the registrar of trademark.

The Plaintiff's alleged that the Defendants were involved in counterfeiting the plaintiff's products. Such products, sold by the defendants bore the plaintiff's exclusive trademarks, "Louis Vuitton", the "LV" logo, and the Toile Monogram pattern. The fact that the defendants stocked large quantities of products with infringing marks in their outlets meant that they were engaging in infringing activities. The Plaintiff's supported this claim with the photographs of the counterfeit items purchased by the plaintiff's representative, from the defendant's outlets. The Court had opined that the plaintiff had made out a prima facie case, and if ad interim relief was not granted, restraining the defendants from the use of the similar trademark as that of the plaintiff, serious prejudice and harm would be caused to it. The balance of convenience too, was in favour of plaintiff.

After considering the background of the case the Delhi High Court, accordingly passed an order for permanent injunction .The Court also appointed a local commissioner who's report confirmed the infringing activity of the defendants. The Court further directed the defendants to destroy the goods seized by the local commissioner on a date to be intimated to the plaintiff in its presence or in the presence of the plaintiff's representative. The Defendants were also directed to bear the costs.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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