Budweiser granted protection by Delhi High Court against use of their recycled beer bottles
“The sale of any product with the recycled bottles of another manufacturer would result in infringement and passing off. Though the bottle itself may be a genuine bottle which may have been put by the Plaintiff originally in the market, after the contents are consumed and the bottle reaches the recycling cycle, the Defendant’s use of such bottles which have the Plaintiff’s trade mark embossed on them would cause confusion as to its source.”
– Delhi High Court
The companies, corporations, entities and individuals register their trademark by following the NICE classification of goods and services in compliance with the fourth schedule of the Trademarks Rules, 2002. In the same way, with reference to the present case, there is a dispute between the parties on the design of the bottles, which has been trademarked for protection. These designed bottles are liable for getting registered and protected under class 21 of the nice classification. The present case of Anheuser-Busch LLC vs. Mr. Surjeet Lal & Anotherinvolves the dispute between the parties with respect to the design of the bottles.
The plaintiffs, namely Anheuser-Busch LLC, have been the recognised owners and proprietors of the mark ‘BUDWEISER’, which is used as a recognition for the manufacturing and selling of beer bottles. The disputes arose between the parties, when it came under the plaintiffs’ notice that the defendants were also in possession of the same beer bottles, and had only re-labeled the marks to ‘Black Fort’ and ‘Power Cool’. Aggrieved by the defendant’s action, the plaintiffs filed a suit for trademark infringement of their bottles under Section 29 of the Trademarks Act, 1999, to seek a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from using the glass bottles with the embossed word ‘BUDWEISER’.
Arguments put forth by the parties
The plaintiffs were aggrieved by the actions of the defendants as they were using the same beer bottles as that of the plaintiff’s business, and thereby filed a suit seeking permanent injunction. The plaintiffs also produced the images of such bottles, and the physical samples of the bottles before the court in support of their evidence to the opposition filed.
On the other hand, the defendants contended with the plaintiffs’ claims and stated that the bottles used by the defendants were made available to them through the Kabadiwalas. They further stated that during this process, there must have been stray bottles of ‘BUDWEISER’, which may have been accidentally used by them. Therefore, the defendants gave their undertaking for not using the beer bottles of ‘BUDWEISER’ to manufacture and sell their beer. Subsequently, they also took measures and informed the Kabadiwalas for not supplying the bottles of ‘BUDWEISER’ to them and directed the staff of their company to not fill up beer in the bottles labelled as ‘BUDWEISER’.
Judgment of the Delhi High Court
After hearing the learned counsels, the court pronounced the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The court passed a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from using similar beer bottles labelled ‘BUDWEISER’ to manufacture and sell their beer. The court further opined that:
- If used by the defendants, the beer bottles would result in the conception that the parties have constituted ‘use in the course of trade’.
- The sale of the beer with the recycled bottles of another proprietor would result in infringement and passing off, and the use of such bottles by the defendants would cause public deceit and confusion among the public.
Henceforth, the court had considered the undertakings of the defendants that the defendants would ensure random checks and inspections so that they do not use the bottles with the mark ‘BUDWEISER’ for the manufacturing and selling of the beer produced by the defendants. With respect to the undertakings by the defendants, the plaintiffs have agreed not to claim relief of damages, rendition of accounts of profits, and delivery up.
The Delhi High Court, while pronouncing the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and restraining the defendants from using the beer bottles with the mark ‘BUDWEISER,’ has very lawfully and justly referred to the cases of Cobra Beer Partnership Ltd. & Another v. Superior Industries Ltd., and M/s. Allied Blenders and Distillers Private Limited v. Rangar Breweries Ltd. in which the courts have pronounced the judgment that the recycled bottles already used by the plaintiffs cannot be used by the defendants as per the provisions of The Trademarks Act, 1999.
Read the judgement here
– Harmanpreet Kaur (Intern), Amity University, Kolkata
Disclaimer: This brief is intended to provide general guidance to the subject matter. It does not contain legal advice. For any specific advice/corrections, write to [email protected]
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