Clash of the Titans: Tata Indigo vs. Indigo Airlines, the trademark saga continues

Recently the Times of India reported that IndiGo Airlines, one of the premier airline companies operating from India, with more than 100 flights daily, had landed in a trademark dispute with Tata Motors, another automobile giant and proprietors of the car TATA INDIGO.  It is interesting to note that although Inter Globe (Prorpietors of IndiGo Airlines) and Tata Motors have been disputing for the past ten years, before the Indian Trademark Office, the news of the existence of such a dispute has suddenly popped up in the media right before the airlines plans to try its luck at  Dalal Street.

Intrigued by this altercation between the two companies, we performed a search into the status of their marks before the Indian Trademark Office. By conducting this search we discovered that the proprietors of Indigo Airlines, Inter Globe Aviation has applied for registration of the following marks in India back 2004 :

Sl no Application number Mark User Details Application date Class Status
1 1277154 INDIGO AIR Proposed to be used 06/04/2004 16 Registered
2 1277150 INDIGO AIRLINES Proposed to be used 06/04/2004 16 Registered
3 1277148 INDIGO AIRWAYS Proposed to be used  06/04/2004 16 Registered
4 1552122 IndiGo Airlines 01/08/2005   23/04/2007 39 Registered
5 1552120 INDIGO 01/08/2005   23/04/2007 39 Registered
6 1552123 IndiGo Air 01/08/2005   23/04/2007 39 Registered
7 1277147 INDIGO AIRWAYS Proposed to be used  06/04/2004 39 Opposed
8 1277149 INDIGO AIRLINES Proposed to be used        06/04/2004 39 Opposed
9 1277152 IndiG0 Proposed to be used  06/04/2004 39 Opposed
10 1277153 INDIGO AIR Proposed to be used 06/04/2004 39 Opposed
11 1432154 Proposed to be used  06/04/2004 39 Opposed

* This is not an exhaustive list and does not include all marks applied/registered by Indigo Airlines

The search also uncovered that Tata Motors are opposing around five marks filed by the Inter Globe Aviation since 2005 (For opposition no: 206065).  The claims made by Tata Motors are mainly based on the following grounds:

  1. TATA is the registered owners of the mark TATA INDIGO in class 12 in relation to land vehicles and parts thereof.
  2. They are the proprietors of the mark INDIGO and have also applied for registration of several marks in combination with the mark INDIGO both in India as well as abroad.
  3. Tata claims to be using the mark INDIGO both in India as well as in several other countries since the year 2002 and due to the continuous usage of the mark, the mark has acquired well known status and it is exclusively associated by the Public with them only.
  4. Tata claims that adoption of mark Indigo by Inter Globe as dishonest and a malafide method to take advantage of popularity of Tata’s mark.

The author is of the opinion that even though Tata Indigo was the first to use the marks in Indian Markets, the chances of Inter Globe getting registration of the mark IndiGo may be good as it is quite unlikely that an average consumer will get confused between an aeroplane and a car. Further, both marks have continued to co-exist in a harmonious manner for more than ten years without causing any confusion and/or deception among the public eliminating other grounds of opposition as well.

Notwithstanding the author’s opinion, the current opposition proceedings will only mark the beginning of a long legal tussle between these giants and it would be interesting to see how Indian Trademark Office will manage to bring these parties to the table to settle the matter.

Authored by Nithin V. Kumar.

Source- here