The Delhi High Court has recently ruled that KFC’s Chicken Zinger can be trademarked, overturning a previous decision by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
Background of the case:
KFC, the well-known fast-food chain, had filed a trademark application for the term “Chicken Zinger” with the Indian Trademark Registry in 2010. The trademark was approved, but it was later challenged by a local competitor, Kamboj Restaurant, which claimed that the term “Chicken Zinger” was a common term used in the food industry and could not be trademarked. The matter was then referred to the IPAB, which rejected KFC’s trademark application in 2018.
Arguments made by the parties:
KFC argued that the term “Chicken Zinger” was a unique creation of KFC and had acquired a distinctive character through years of use. The company claimed that the term had become synonymous with KFC’s brand and that consumers associated the term with KFC’s products. KFC also submitted evidence of its extensive use of the term “Chicken Zinger” in advertisements, packaging, and other promotional materials.
Kamboj Restaurant, on the other hand, argued that the term “Chicken Zinger” was a generic term used in the food industry and that KFC could not claim exclusive rights over it. The restaurant also claimed that KFC’s use of the term was misleading and deceptive, as it suggested that KFC was the only source of chicken zingers in the market.
The court found that KFC’s Chicken Zinger had acquired a secondary meaning and was associated with KFC’s brand. The court noted that KFC had extensively used the term “Chicken Zinger” in its advertisements, packaging, and promotional materials, which had contributed to the term’s distinctiveness. The court also observed that the term “Chicken Zinger” was not a commonly used term in the food industry and had been created by KFC.
The court further observed that KFC’s use of the term “Chicken Zinger” was not misleading or deceptive, as KFC had made it clear that it was the source of the product. The court stated, “The use of the term ‘Chicken Zinger’ by the plaintiff (KFC) is honest and is not intended to deceive or mislead any person.”
The court also noted that Kamboj Restaurant had failed to provide any evidence to support its claim that the term “Chicken Zinger” was a common term in the food industry.
Analysis of the case:
This case highlights the importance of protecting trademarks in India. Trademarks are essential assets for businesses, and any unauthorized use of trademarks can cause significant damage to a business’s reputation and goodwill. The court’s decision in this case reaffirms the protection given to trademarks in India and the consequences of infringing on another’s trademark.
Moreover, this case also highlights the difference between a generic term and a distinctive term. A generic term cannot be trademarked, but a distinctive term, which has acquired a secondary meaning and is associated with a particular brand, can be trademarked. In this case, the court found that KFC’s Chicken Zinger had acquired a secondary meaning and was associated with KFC’s brand.
In conclusion, the Delhi High Court’s decision to allow KFC to trademark its Chicken Zinger highlights the importance of protecting trademarks in India. It also reiterates the significance of proving the association between a trademark and a business’s goodwill and reputation. This case is a reminder to businesses to take necessary measures to protect their trademarks and to consumers to be aware of the trademarks they use in their day-to-day lives.