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Trademark Rules: ‘Passing off’ provisions

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TOI

 Context: Recently, Dolma Aunty, renowned for her momos in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, won a trademark battle in her favour. The Delhi High Court cancelled the trademark registration of ‘Dolma Aunty Momos’ in the name of Mohammed Akram Khan after Dolma Tsering, the original Dolma Aunty, filed a petition against him.

The legal action invoked ‘passing off’ provisions, seeking cancellation of the infringers’ trademark under relevant sections of the Trademarks Act.

 

What is a trademark?

These are symbols, designs, words, or phrases associated with a business, and registering them grants exclusive rights to their usage. Governed by the Trademarks Act of 1999, trademarks registered with the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks are protected for 10 years and can be renewed periodically.

 

What is the ‘Passing off’ provision?

It refers to deceptive practices where one brand attempts to profit from another’s reputation through misrepresentation.

In trademark law, the distinction between infringement and passing off is crucial. If a registered trademark is violated, it constitutes infringement. However, if the trademark isn’t registered and infringement happens, it’s categorized as passing off.

Regarding passing off, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Cadila Healthcare Limited vs. Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited (2001) defined it as a type of unfair trade competition