Trademark litigation, is more often than not centered around
the premise of "deceptive similarity". The aspect
becomes more debatable where an argument regarding generic
usage or public knowledge of the mark be raised. This is
particularly evidenced in marks that incorporate words of
colloquial and regional significance, while having been granted
trademark registration. The set of scales may swindle between
registration being prima facie evidence and being in the public
domain. Long drawn litigations are often witnessed, as in
Amaravathi Enterprises v. Karaikudi Chettinadu
The suit between Amaravathi Enterprises and Karaikudi
Chettinadu reflects the strict standards that the Indian Courts
maintain in trademark disputes. The dispute is centered around
a registered trademark "Kaaraikudi Chettinad
Resturant", (held by Amaravathi Enterprises) and
"Karaikudi Chettinadu Resturant" (used by Karaikudi
Chettinadu), both the marks being deceptively similar to each
other except for a slight variation in spelling.
This infringement suit was contested by Amaravathi on the
ground that their presence in the hospitality industry with a
chain of hotels, catering services and restaurants, was noted,
as part of the reputed Savera Group. They vouched that their
restaurant was popular for its Chettinad cuisine, attracting
customers including some eminent personalities. They vouched
that by virtue of use since 1989, the mark "Kaaraikudi
Chettinad Resturant" had acquired a secondary meaning and
was identified by the public at large.
The grounds propounded by Amaravathi were rebutted by the
opponents, on the account that they were prior users of the
mark "Karaikudi Chettinadu Resturant". They also
argued that the word "Chettinadu" denoted
"Karaikudi", since it referred to the spicy cuisine
that originated from Karaikudi and surrounding areas. They
stated that Karaikudi could not constitute a trademark as the
same had become public juris.
The High Court in its decision took into account several
precedants to elucidate the requirements of
'constituting a prima facie case',
'balance of convenience' and
'irreparable injury' to pronounce an order of
injunction. The High Court stated that the documents produced
by "Karaikudi Chettinadu" were insufficient to
reflect that they were prior continuous users of the mark.
Also, they stated that evidence did not sufficiently reflect
the volume of business of the mark. The court also reiterated
the trite law of registration of a trademark being prima
facie evidence in favour of the holder of the mark, and
noted that the same leaned in favour of Amaravathi. The court
opined that being in the business of food items, it was
quintessential to maintain a high standard, a fall in which
would lead to loss of reputation and goodwill.
The High Court of Madras granting an interlocutory
injunction ruled in favour of Amaravathi. A time period of
three months was granted to Karaikudi Chettinadu to replace the
phrase from their trade name. The trial court was also ordered
to expedite the hearing of the suit, judging the same on
In a country with vibrant culture, cuisine and innumerable
dialects and pronunciations to follow, transliteration of
expressions is bound to create disputes such as these. The
Courts in this event need to follow the well established dicta
of the law in administering justice to the parties, while the
Trade Mark Registry bear caution in granting registration to
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