IP & Litigation

Agatha Christie’s Book “And Then There Were None” A Distinctive Mark?

/ / Agatha Christie’s Book “And Then There Were None” A Distinctive Mark?

Agatha Christie (1890-1976), fondly known as the “Queen of  Crime”, needs no introduction. A best-selling fiction writer of all times as per the Guinness Book of World Records she is arguably one of the greatest murder mystery writers today. ‘And Then There Were None’, one of the most celebrated books by Agatha Christie, is set to receive trademark registration in India after more than 80 years of its publication with the Delhi High Court ruling in favor of Christie’s company which had sought trademark registration.

The development came with Justice C Hari Shankar setting aside the order passed by the Registrar of Trademarks in January 2021 rejecting the application filed in 2017 by Agatha Christie Limited, the company set up by Christie in 1955 and now operated by her grandson. The Court was informed that the application was rejected on the ground that the name “And Then There Were None” lacks distinctiveness and has never really been used as a trademark. Since the impugned order denied the registration without any due justification, the same needs to be set aside.

The Delhi High Court was hearing an appeal filed by Agatha Christie Ltd, against the decision of the Registrar of Trademarks. Justice Shankar has held that the order passed by the Registrar of Trademark cannot sustain either on facts or in law as it fails to reason out how “And Then There Were None” is, by any reckoning, not a distinctive mark, when seen vis-à-vis the categories of services in respect of which registration was being sought. The Court noted that the Trade Marks Act, 1999, says that a “trademark” must be capable of being represented graphically and must be capable of distinguishing the goods of one person from those of others. While allowing the appeal, the Court remitted the matter to the office of the Registrar of Trademarks.

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