Copy is the best form of Flattery? Pidilite may disagree….again.
The goodwill a brand enjoys in the market is the fruit of the company’s labour, innovation and ability to connect with the customer. Many competitors, often, try to piggyback the goodwill created by a brand by directly copying or infringing the brand.
A recent victim of alleged trademark infringement, is one of India’s famous consumer goods manufacturer, Pidilite. Pidilite is the owner of Fevicol, the iconic and go-to brand for glue for almost every Indian. The popularity of Fevicol has led to many products being released in the market with similar names or marks that insinuate a relation between the products. In 1985, Pidilite sued a Mittees Corporation for its product named “Trevicol”. Similarly, they sued a Nepal based manufacturer for using the mark of “Rathicol” back in the year 2000.
Recently, Pidilite took action against Saathi Adhesives Pvt. Ltd. a company that manufactures adhesives of various grades, for launching its products by the name of “Saathicol”, “SSH”, “Marine”, “D3” and “D3 Gold”. These names have been alleged to be similar to Pidilite’s premium adhesive products “Fevicol”, “SH”, “Marine” and “D3” which the company has registered trademarks for. The defendant seems to have registered the logo “Saathicol” but not for the other products.
While the term “Saathicol” isn’t phonetically familiar to its counterparty “fevicol” but one can’t negate the idea that the intent to utilize goodwill is non-existent. The Court referred to the judgment in Reckitt & Colman Products Ltd v Borden Inc in which the ‘Classic Trinity’ was established. Herein, there should be existent goodwill of the brand, the alleged perpetrator should by misrepresenting its product as attached to the goodwill and finally this goodwill should be at peril due to the similar product.
Although Pidilite’s existent goodwill needs no evidence given their brand image, sales volume and market share, that is for the court to decide at a later stage. At least at this juncture, there seems to be a prima facie case of infringement on part of Saathi Adhesive in the eyes of the Bombay High Court. The fact that the defendant is unable to produce a justifiable reason behind the names of the product is further shaping the opinion of the Court in that structure.
At this juncture, The Bombay High Court has granted a temporary injunction in favour of Pidilite restricting Saathi Adhesive from producing, selling or taking any other action that may seem to infringe the registered trademarks of Pidilite. The suit remains pending for hearing and final disposal.