Trademark infringement disputes have involved parties from
nearly all types of corporations and business. The media, typically
involved in copyright issues is also witnessing trademark rows with
respect to their brand name and identity. Disputing the use and
consequent infringement of 'Aaj Tak', the case of TV
Today Network and Anr. v. Kesari Singh Gujjar and Ors 2008
(38)PTC 262 (Del.) arose forth the High Court of Delhi.
TV Today Network Ltd. and co-party are engaged in various
business operations including TV programme production and
publication. They stated that since then they had acquired
sufficient expertise in mass media and due to the popularity of its
ventures, they decided to commence a news programme in Hindi to be
telecast in Doordarshan, in 1995 under the name "Aaj
Tak". The trademark "Aaj Tak" was applied for and
also Subah Aaj Tak, Khel Aaj Tak and Saptahik Aaj Tak under Class
9. TV Today promoted his co-party to manage and administer the said
channel, as a new corporate entity and also licensed the use of the
word, logo and trademark in 'Aaj Tak' with respect to the
news channel to the latter.
TV Today claimed the term 'Aaj Tak' to be an arbitrary,
unique combination of words in the Hindi language, thereby
attributing to its distinctive character. Further, since the mark
was continuously in use since 1995, they stated that the members of
the public associated the mark only with them and that the
combination became synonymous to their identity. They also averred
to have invested considerable sums of money for the promotion of
the said brand and produced figures to substantiate the growing
revenue, the viewership of around 19. 4 million (as on April 2005),
and in turn vouch the channel' popularity. They also propounded
that the numerous awards received by the channel over the years,
had cemented its goodwill and reputation. TV Today Network also
uses the domain name www.aajtak.com, where the said mark and logo
are depicted, in order to provide news through the Internet. They
also said to have proprietary rights in other domain names such as
www.aajtakfirm.in , www.aajtak.co.in and www.aajtak.org.in among
others and stated that the said mark was a well-known mark within
the meaning of section 2(1) (zg), of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. TV
Today Network contended that since a prima facie case of
infringement and passing off had been made out injunction must be
confirmed. They also vouched themselves to be the first and prior
users of the mark, and prayed that the adoption being malafide with
the intention to deceive, the court must restrain Kesari Singh
Gujjar and his co-parties from further harming their goodwill.
Kesari Singh averred that TV Today Network had suppressed
material information from the Court. They claimed that their
newspaper had been in publication and circulation since 1996, and
that the same was registered with the Office of Registrar of
Newspapers for India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
They alleged that since the co-plaintiffs were also engaged in the
publication of magazines and newspapers, they would have also known
that registration was a pre-requisite for obtaining the right to
the title in the newspaper and that on several occasions, they were
denied registration because of the prior registration under the
Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (hereafter the PRB Act).
Kesari Singh also propounded of a valid registration since 1996. TV
Today and co-parties acquiesced to the publication of the newspaper
therefore, an estoppels operating against them. At the time of
filing the suit the mark of TV Today was not registered with
respect to newspapers.
Kesari Singh averred that they had been in the market since
1996, much before TV Today had opened its news channel, and that
hence, they could not be alleged of having taken unfair advantage
of the TV Today' goodwill owing to the protection afforded to a
prior user under the Indian law of infringement and passing off. On
the question of delay and acquiescence, the Court reiterated that
the delay must be of an inordinate nature and that mere delay by
itself is not recognized as a defense.
Responding to Kesari Singh' contention concerning the right
to freedom of press, the Court stated that the question of an
injunction restraining it from infringing a registered trademark
violating such a fundamental right did not arise. The Court
concluded its verdict, confirming the interim injunction order on
the premise that Kesari Singh was free to propagate his views and
publish news which it chose to, so long as the trademark of TV
Today was not infringed.
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