In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court granted relief to luxury brand Louis Vuitton Malletier by issuing a permanent injunction and awarding damages against three defendants involved in the manufacturing and selling of counterfeit goods bearing the Louis Vuitton trademarks.
Case: Louis Vuitton Malletier Vs Santosh & Ors
Louis Vuitton, a globally renowned luxury brand, has been using its name and trademark since 1854. Its trademarks include the “Louis Vuitton” word mark, the “LV” logo, the Toile monogram pattern, the Damier pattern, the LV flower pattern, and several other marks registered in India under Classes 3, 14, 18, and 25.
In 2018, the plaintiff conducted market surveys and discovered that the defendants were engaged in manufacturing and selling counterfeit goods bearing the plaintiff’s registered trademarks. To verify this, the plaintiff hired an investigator and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendants for trademark infringement.
The court granted an ex parte ad interim injunction in favor of the plaintiff, prohibiting the defendants from using the plaintiff’s registered trademark “Louis Vuitton.” Furthermore, three Local Commissioners were appointed to seize and inventory the infringing products found at the defendants’ premises.
The defendants failed to appear in court even after the interim injunction, leading the court to proceed ex parte.
The court noted that the defendants’ lack of response and failure to appear in court indicated that they had no valid legal defense. The court then examined the evidence provided by the plaintiff, including affidavits and Local Commissioners’ reports.
Referring to previous cases, Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Abdul Salim and Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Manoj Khurana, the court recognized the plaintiff’s mark as a “well-known mark.” The court concluded that the plaintiff was the registered owner of the Louis Vuitton trademark and that the defendants were found to be manufacturing and selling counterfeit products with identical marks, leading to infringement and passing off.
The court also found that the defendants took unfair advantage of the plaintiff’s reputation and deceived consumers.
The Delhi High Court granted a permanent injunction in favor of Louis Vuitton and directed the defendants to hand over the seized goods for destruction. Damages of Rs. 1,50,000/- and Rs. 3,50,000/- were awarded against defendants 1 and 2, and 3, respectively, for their counterfeiting activities.
Citing Hindustan Lever Ltd. v. Satish Kumar, 2012 SCC OnLine Del 1378, the court stated that punitive damages were warranted when the defendant did not appear before the court, applying the same reasoning in the present case. The court found the defendants guilty of trademark infringement and deemed the awarded damages necessary to prevent future infringement.
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