The Delhi High Court has stayed the illegal export of products manufactured by Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd by twelve entities, stating that it was a prima facie violation of Section 29 of the Trade Marks Act,1999.
“…for the present, till the next date of hearing, the Defendant No. 1 to 12,….are restrained from exporting, (online/offline/directly or indirectly), Plaintiff’s goods in the international market bearing the trademark/artistic design/logo PATANJALI/PATANJALI AYURVED LIMITED or any other trademark, as may be identical with or deceptively/ confusingly similar to Plaintiff’s trademark “PATANJALI/PATANJALI AYURVED LIMITED”., the Court ordered.
The ex-parte ad-interim injunction was granted by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula in Patanjali’s plea against twelve entities.
It was Patanjali’s grievance that the defendants were procuring its goods meant exclusively for sale in the domestic market and illegally exporting them without any authority.
This conduct, Patanjali claimed, infringed its exclusive right to use its registered trademark.
When Patanjali lodged complaints with the Commissioner of Customs, it was stated by customs authorities that Intellectual Property rules did not apply to exports, and thus no action was taken on the complaint.
Before the High Court, Patanjali stated that it did not have any authorized channel for export of its products and the entire export was done solely by the company itself. Hence, the illegal exports using registered trademark without any license, permission, or authority, infringed Patanjali’s trademark.
It was argued that the packaging of the products meant for domestic sale is completely different from those that are meant for export. Therefore, exports made illegally that did not comply with the legal requirements of the importing country created a grave risk to Patanjali’s goodwill, reputation and sales.
Patanjali claimed that it came across instances where its goods were tampered with or altered by affixing a sticker on the reverse for exporting the product.
Agreeing with Patanjali, the Court observed that the export of such products would be in conflict with Patanjali’s rights and prima facie, it would also be an infringement under Section 29 (1) read with Section 29 (6) of the Trade Marks Act,1999.
It further observed that the defendants’ conduct of altering the products would prima facie attract the provisions of Section 30(4) of the Act.
“The doctrine of first sale which cuts off trademark owner’s rights after its products are first sold would be limited to selling the branded item in the same condition when it was first sold. The acts complaint of, like affixing stickers and altering the entire list of ingredients/nutritional facts amounts to “materially” changing the product made by the trademark owner. This would certainly put the image of the company in peril and thus would contravene Section 30 (4) of the Trade Mark Act,1999.”
It thus allowed Patanjali’s prayer seeking an injunction in respect of export of its products in the international market. The Court concluded that the balance of convenience was in favour Patanjali as it would suffer irreparable harm if defendants were not restrained from continuing the illegal export.
The Court has, however, clarified that the defendants may continue to sell Patanjali products in the domestic market. The matter will be heard next on May 16.
Patanjali was represented by Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan with Advocates Simranjeet Singh, Rohan Ahuja, Sonali Dhir, Aadhar Nautiyal, Sanjeevi and Siddharth Mahajan.
Read the order: