India: The Fight Against Fake Food

Last Updated: 18 September 2019
Article by Sanjana Kala and Manjit Kaur Bhalla

A trademark, by definition, is a word/phrase/symbol/design that is capable of distinguishing the source of the goods and/or services (in relation to which it is used) of one party from another. This enables consumers to identify goods/services that originate from a particular brand or business and acts as an indicator of the nature and quality of the good/service they are availing. Such indication can stem from various factors, such as, the name, design, get-up, fonts and colors used in packaging, slogans, etc. In essence, a trademark ties consumer perception with the goodwill and reputation associated with a brand or business, thereby playing a very important role in purchase decisions related to all commercial industries.

One such industry, where a trademark is inherently linked to the quality of the goods and/or services of a brand or business, is the food industry. Given that in the food sector, the health and safety of the public at large is of primary concern, the value of a trusted trademark that instills confidence in the mind of a consumer, increases manifold. Moreover, once consumers are convinced about the reliability of a food brand, they will more often than not return to the brand they are familiar with, even i f there are cheaper replacements available in the market. In such a scenario, counterfeit or fraudulent food products not only pose a major risk to the health and safety of consumers, but also act as a major threat to brand owners who are likely to suffer a loss in revenue and reputation.

In India, the regulation and supervision of food products in circulation in the country rests with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is the apex regulatory body in this regard. The FSSAI was established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which covers activities throughout the food distribution chain, from primary production through distribution to retail and catering. In addition to regulating the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of food products, the aforementioned statute also ensures availability of safe and healthy food for human consumption. The FSSAI regulations in India have categorized food products into two categories, namely, standardized and non-standardized or proprietary.1

Standardized food products Non-standardized/Proprietary food products
Standardized food products have prescribed standards and do not require prior approval for manufacture, storage, distribution, sale or import of the same Non-standardized/Proprietary food products on the other hand are those for which no identity standards have been prescribed in the regulations as they are not known or not yet ascertained
A manufacturer/distributor/importer of standardized food products only requires an FSSAI license to commence business Whereas, for a manufacturer/ distributor/ importer of non-standardized food products obtaining a license is subject to product approval. Such product approval for nonstandardized foods has to be done within ninety (90) days.

Some pertinent points to note in this regard are:

  • Traditional foods (without any new ingredients/additives) in India do not require product approval owing to customary practices;
  • The above-noted regulatory regime is not applicable to exporters as the exported food products are not being sold to consumers to India;
  • As regards importing food products, India is known to have strict packaging and labelling requirements that ensure imported food products carry all the relevant information on the packaging/labelling before entering the market for sale/consumption. For more information on rules relating to packaged commodities, please refer to our articles on Legal Metrology2

In light of the above, the health and safety risks of ingestion of counterfeit/unregulated food products that are circulating in the market without any rigorous quality control become imperative. In this regard, the Trade Marks Act, 1999, offers remedies to counter infringement and counterfeiting under Section 135, in addition to Sections 102 and 103, which deal with falsification and false application of a trademark. Notably, Section 103 mandates imprisonment of three (3) years and a fine up to two lakh rupees as penalties for counterfeiting and can be employed in cases of fake packaging. Another effective recourse against a counterfeiter of a food product can be taken under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, which prohibits manufacture and sale of "misbranded food" and provides stringent penalties for counterfeiters who are infringing trademark rights. Since charges under multiple statutes can be clubbed into one, these remedies are not mutually exclusive of each other and may be pleaded together.

However, brand owners are now coming up with ingenious ways to combat large scale counterfeiting on their own.

  • For instance, in 2017 Cargill Foods India announced that they will be investing approximately INR 2, 00,00,000 (USD 279152.20) in anti-counterfeiting technology for its cooking oil brand Gemini.3
  • Brand owners are also increasing consumer reliance on packaging by recognizing it as a fundamental component of source indication for food items. What is required now, is a need for brand owners to think one step ahead and ensure they have all the requisite protections that they can enforce against counterfeiters.

For instance, after acquiring copyright and trademark rights for their packaging/labelling, brand owners can apply to register their trademarks with the Customs Authority of India,





For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: or call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at

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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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