India: Parle Group Engaged In A House Marks Dispute

Last Updated: 15 June 2009

Large business facilities in India have often sprung from family collaborations and partnerships. In doing so, the family name often plays a key role and gains a prominent place as a "house mark" often inviting litigation. The case of Parle Products v. Parle Agro 2009 (39) PTC 405 revisits the dicta behind the use and sharing of "house marks".

Parle Products and Parle Agro, parties to the suit are Companies incorporated by two Groups of the family of Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan who had been carrying on business in the name of "Parle" as a part of their corporate name in respect of products for which each of these companies obtained registered trademarks, for the use of the word "Parle" singly or in conjunction with other words. Parle Products deals in biscuits and confectioneries, while Parle Agro is engaged in the business of beverages as also confectioneries which are manufactured and marketed by them. Parle Products contended that the two groups being part of the same family, hailing from Vile Parle, Mumbai were carrying on business in distinct and separate fields and that neither of them could trample upon the field of business activity of another so as to use any trade name or market any product which would be similar to the registered trademarks of that other.

Elucidating facts regarding their inception and the incorporation of the companies, it was accepted by both parties that each of them were entitled to use the word "Parle" for the specific products which each group was initially manufacturing or looking after. Parle Products expressed no grievance regarding the use of the word "Parle" by Parle Agro in respect of its beverage products. The same position is propounded by Parle Agro with the use of the mark in respect of confectioneries and biscuits by Parle Products. Each of these corporations was observed to have used separate names /marks / brands for each of their separate products.

The Court noted that the initial business being in the nature of a Partnership Firm, expanded and diversified to form a Limited Company which later was split to form another Company, leading to the division of the management and shares held amongst the brothers being sold so as to "exit" from one of the Companies. Their trademarks using the word "Parle" have been registered under Classes 29, 30 and 32 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

The Court noting the expansion and diversification into the confectionery arena observed that Parle Agro used their product identification mark and brand name "Mintrox" and "Buttercup" in conjunction with the words "Parle" or "Parle Confi" on the labels of the products.

The Court noted that there was no Agreement between the parties, by which either of the groups was restrained from carrying on business of the other group for any period of time or within any place upon the "exit" of the partners. Parle Products did not dispute Parle Agro' right of carrying on business in confectioneries or biscuits. Parle Products' contention was only with respect to the use of the trademark "Parle" singly or in conjunction with its product identification marks such as "Buttercup" or "Mintrox".

In response, Parle Agro contended that Parle was a "house mark" and that the same could be used by members of the family of Parle to denote the lineage for any business – confectionery and biscuits or beverages. They further stated that they could carry on the business of confectioneries and biscuits by virtue of the object clause in its Memorandum of Association. It was argued that initially all the brothers were partners and later as Directors of the Limited Company formed, being Parle Bottling Company Private Limited, had knowledge of the object. They also averred that one division of their company was called "The Parle Confi Company" which belonged to the Parle Group of Companies. Therefore they contended that use of the word "Parle" for products manufactured by their confectionery division was honest and bona fide. They also contended that they had acquired enormous reputation and goodwill in its product identification mark under the house mark "Parle" and confusion or likelihood of confusion was said to be absent.

The Court noted that the trademarks of the Parle Products must be first seen and appreciated. The earliest registration of 1940s in the name of "Parles" and "Parle" continued until about 2001 for various products showing Parle on their labels. In 2005, Parle had registered the trademark "Parle Mint" and had also registered the mark "Parle Logo". Parle Products admitted that they manufactured various biscuits such as Glucose, Monaco, Krackjack, etc but the names of these were not shown as separate trademarks. The Court opined that these were identification marks of those products which Parle Agro stated to be "product identification marks." The Court noted that Parle Products' business upon its expansion could not continue selling the products only in the name of Parle or Parles since the products were being sold under a host of brand names.

The Court opined that a Company or a business house which manufactures an array of products would require separate brands for each product to give an identity to the product, which in turn would enhance the recognition of the product and distinguish it from the others. The fact that the two groups hailed from a single seminal partnership were said to be entitled to carry on both the businesses of the partnership Firm was not disputed. The Court stated that the aspect that needed to be looked into was if the use of the word "Parle", be it a house mark or otherwise along with a new word "Confi" was feasible.

The Court to address this question, drew an analogy between the UK case of Anderson & Lembke Limited vs. Anderson & Lembke Inc., (1989) R.P.C. 124 dealing with the rights of the parties having a common origin but trading under dissimilar names using the word of the original Company. The Court noted that Parle Agro manufactured toffees which are confectionery items under identifiable product names but in smaller print referred to, its own Company division looking after the confectionery business. Further, in the absence of Parle Products having a registered trademark "Parle Confi" the use of that mark by Parle Agro could not per se be forbidden. The Court stated that the question of any misrepresentation being caused vide the use of such a mark would have to be examined.

The Court noted that in a situation where a third party were using the word "Parle", they would be restrained by the Court from doing so, however, in the present scenario where Parle Agro was entitled to enjoy the mark by virtue of lineage, is "stating no more than the truth". Since Parle Agro's product name was noted to be entirely different, the words "Parle Confi" were said to at best include additional truthful information that it was a division, of the beverage manufacturing company. As in the case of Anderson, the Court stated that the words "Parle Confi" were merely a reference to the parent Company, but the fact that they held a distinct corporate name made it clear that it does not refer to Parle Products or its business. The Court stated that two concepts i.e. the "product name" or the "brand name" and the "house name" were existent : Parle being the house name is Parle and the different product names being brand names for each of their products.

Parle Products asserting their contentions cited and discussed several precedents including the case of Ramdev Food Products Pvt. Ltd. vs. Arvindbhai Rambhai Patel & ors., 2006 (33) PTC 281(SC) and the three- fold test for confusion in the case of Canon Kabushiki Kaisha vs. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., (1999) RPC 117 referred therein. The considerations under the test aid down are:

  1. The public would confuse the sign and mark in question. (Direct confusion).
  2. The public would make a connection between the proprietor of the sign and the mark and confuse them. (Indirect confusion)
  3. The public would consider the sign to be similar to the mark although the two are not confusing. (Association)

The Court differentiating the cases, the Court stated that the ambit set out in the case of Ramdev was correct upto the point that if Parle Agro entered the business of confectioneries and biscuits, it would do so without using a trademark deceptively similar to that of Parle Products' mark but that it could not do so by infringing Parle Products' mark, i.e. it could not "traffic in trade" as coined in Ramdev. The Court also observed that the mark "Parle Confi" was not deceptively similar to any of the Parle Product's trademarks.

The Court also noted that in the present case no restrictive MOU between the parties existed that that in spite of the parties' "exit" from each others' businesses by sale of their shares, they never ceased to be members of the house of Parle.

Parle Agro brought to the notice of the Court, the Judgment of Astra Pharmaceuticals (P) Ltd. vs. Collector of Central Excise, Chandigarh, (1995) 2 SCC 84 whereby the notion of a house mark depicted that:

"677- A. House mark and product mark (or brand name). - In the pharmaceutical business a distinction is made between a house mark and a product mark. The former is used on all the products of the manufacturer. It is usually a device in the form of an emblem, word or both. For each product a separate mark known as a product mark or a brand name is used which is invariably a word or a combination of a word and letter or numeral by which the product is identified and asked for. In respect of all products both the product mark and house mark will appear side by side on all the labels, cartons etc. Goods are ordered only by the product mark or brand name. The house mark serves as an emblem of the manufacturer projecting the image of the manufacturer generally."

The Court stated that the word "Parle" did constitute a house mark, vis-à-vis the parties in dispute. Several precedents and authorities were taken note of in concluding so. The Court opined that in Parle Agro would have complied with the procedure under the Companies Act, 1956 and in this pursuance; Parle Products could hold no objection in the use of the same in the absence of any objections taken by them under Section 21 of the Companies Act, 1956. In view of being a house mark, Parle Agro urged that it must be entitled to use the same. The Court held that the same could not be restrained and permitted the same upon certain directions issue by them.

© Lex Orbis 2009

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions