Patanjali Ayurved Limited (“Patanjali”) need not be introduced anymore for its desi products dominate Indian as well as international households. In the recent case of Patanjali Ayurved Limited v. Masala King Exports Trading Pvt. Ltd. & Ors, the Delhi High Court observed that a re-seller, who buys branded products for further sale in the market, is obliged to sell them in the same condition as they were first sold to him. This is also known as the ‘principle of first sale’.
Patanjali found that the products which were meant exclusively for the domestic market were being procured and illegally exported to various countries for sale. Patanjali came across instances where the exported products are tampered or altered. This posed a threat to the health of its consumers and also to the goodwill and reputation of brand- Patanjali in the international market. Patanjali issued letters and lodged a complaint with Custom Authorities to restrain such illegal export. However, the Customs Authorities have stated that the Intellectual Property rules do not apply to exports and no action has been taken on the complaint of the Plaintiff.
Patanjali filed a suit for infringement of its registered trademarks against 13 such parties. It stated that its entire export function is handled internally and no external export channel has been authorized by it.
Also, the packaging of products for export is different from that of the packaging of products for domestic sale, as the former is required to be in accordance with the regulating standards of that country. For instance, in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a far more detailed description of the products if the products are to be imported there.
Patanjali submitted to the court a representative table of products and its label from which a clear difference can be drawn between products made for domestic sale and other for the export. One example is as follows:
|DESCRIPTION||FOR EXPORT||FOR DOMESTIC MARKET|
|PATANJALI DANT KANTI (FRONT VIEW)|
|PATANJALI MINT TULSI BODY CLEANSER (FRONT VIEW)|
|PATANJALI MINT TULSI BODY CLEANSER (BACK VIEW)|
Patanjali contended that it may be exposed to unwanted legal actions from consumers using such products believing the altered and illegally exported products to be those of Patanjali.
The Court relied on the judgement of Philip Morris where the defendant illegally acquired and sold products bearing registered trade mark of the plaintiff. In the suit for infringement, the court had held that the plaintiff need not prove the difference in packaging or quality to constitute legitimate reasons. The sale of the product itself results in infringement of plaintiff’s right and he is entitled to injunctive relief.
The same has been observed in this case where the defendants have procured Patanjali’s products through illegitimate sources and sold them in the international market.
In view of the same an ex-parte injunction order was passed in favour of Patanjali. The defendants have been asked to file a written statement for the allegations made against them on the next date of hearing i.e. April 23, 2019 and until then they are restrained from selling goods bearing Patanjali’s registered trademark or any mark identical or deceptively similar to it in the international market. It is also made clear that Defendants may continue to sell Patanjali’s products in the domestic market.
Compiled by: Adv. Sachi Kapoor | Concept & Edited by: Dr. Mohan Dewan
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