Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Plaintiff) v Biju & Anr (Defendant), was a suit against Biju & Anr, for permanent injunction, rendition of accounts and damages and delivering up of infringed material.
Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Plaintiff); a world-renowned corporation registered in Japan is engaged in the manufacture and sale of automobiles and auto parts. They claimed that the trademark "TOYOTA" has been used in India since 1957 in relation to vehicles, their parts and fittings. It was also claimed that on account of the quality of the products, which were being sold under the name "TOYOTA" and continuous use of the same, it had acquired an enviable reputation and goodwill in the market.
On being informed about sale of fake spare parts being sold under the name "TOYOTA", the Plaintiff had appointed an investigator who revealed that Biju & Anr were selling 'Spurious Oil Filter' and 'Universal Joint Cross'. A legal notice was sent by the Plaintiff to the Defendants to refrain them from the unauthorized use of the trademark "TOYOTA". There was no reply to this, which then was followed by a reminder, to which Defendant No. 2 replied denying infringement. The Defendant no. 3 had reached a compromise with the Plaintiff during the pendency of the suit.
A perusal of the photograph of the oil filters purchased by the investigator from Benz Auto Spares showed that the word mark "TOYOTA" had been used on the fuel filter and it was exactly the same as the registered trade mark of the Plaintiff company. Therefore, by using the said mark on the fuel filter, the Defendant No. 1 had infringed the registered trademark "TOYOTA" of the plaintiff company.
The learned Judge observed the following:
- That unlike the case of Mahendra & Mahendra v Mahindra & Mahindra where it had been observed that the impugned name was not a replica of the plaintiff company, or in Motari Overseas Ltd. v Montari Industries Ltd. where there was a change in the middle name, in the present case, the defendants had been found using not only the corporate name, but also the registered trademark of the plaintiff company and that too without even making an attempt to camouflage their infringement by making minor changes here and there. The infringement by them, therefore, was very blatant and absolutely unequivocal. The case of the plaintiff company for grant of injunction, therefore, stood on a much stronger footing.
- That the trademark "TOYOTA" enjoys immense reputation and goodwill in India in respect of automobiles and its parts, and therefore has become a well-known trademark in this field. Thus, it's use by the Defendant would prove to be detrimental to the reputation and goodwill, which the brand "TOYOTA" commands in the market.
- Further, if a product being sold by the Defendant under the trademark "TOYOTA" was found to be of an inferior quality that would likely cause serious prejudice to the image and goodwill of the brand "TOYOTA", this, in turn would likely adversely affect the financial interest of the Plaintiff company besides giving unjust enrichment to the defendant at the cost of the former.
The Court thus stated that keeping the above considerations in mind the Defendant No.1 had to be restrained from manufacturing, selling, storing for sale or advertising auto components under the trade mark "TOYOTA" or any other mark similar to the registered trademark "TOYOTA" of the Plaintiff company.
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