Trademarks : Yahoo! Inc wins lawsuit against Indian Firm AFPL
The Delhi High Court has recently restrained an Indian firm, M/s Apricot Foods Pvt. Ltd (AFPL) from using the trademark ‘Yahoo’ in relation to any of its products. It is a well known fact that the trademark ‘Yahoo’ is owned by the technology giant, Yahoo Inc., headquartered in Sunnyvale, California,U.S. Yahoo Inc. also known as Yahoo! or YAHOO!, has been using the trademark ‘Yahoo’ since 1994.
This judgment given by the Delhi High Court is a result of the suit which was filed by Yahoo Inc. in 2014 seeking permanent injunction against AFPL from using its trademark. Yahoo Inc. had sought to prevent AFPL, its Director Sanjay Patel and Shri Jee Traders from allegedly using its trademark.
It cannot be denied that Yahoo Inc. is a globally renowned entity which is majorly known for its Web portal, search engine Yahoo! Search, and related services, including Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping, video sharing, fantasy sports and its social media website. It is one of the most popular sites in the world. It is claimed to be one of the highest-read news and media website, with over 7 billion views per month, being the fourth most visited website globally. With such credentials to its name it would have been really difficult for the court to not pass a decree in favor of Yahoo Inc, particularly when it is a matter of trademark infringement as trademarks in the current scenario play a pivotal role in the business growth of an entity.
During the course of the suit AFPL and its Director had neither appeared nor filed written statement before the court. Hence they were proceeded ex-parte. However, Shri Jee Traders submitted an undertaking in the court stating that they were not dealing in any kind of products consisting of the Trademark ‘Yahoo’ and as a result, Yahoo Inc. did not press for damages against them. But Yahoo Inc. took a firm stand against the other two defendants alleging that AFPL had been infringing its trademark and marketing its products under the name ‘Yahoo Masala Chakra’ and ‘Yahoo Tomato Tangy’.
Justice S Muralidhar came to the conclusion that AFPL and its Director have been using the trademark ‘Yahoo’ with respect to their products and have been marketing them under the same brand name resulting in infringement of the trademark of the plaintiff. The court was of the opinion that even if AFPL has been using the mark ‘Yahoo’ in relation to some snack items, it does not negate the fact that defendant’s adoption of the mark is undoubtedly dishonest.
As a result, the court issued a decree of permanent injunction restraining AFPL, its principal officers, servants and agents, group/sister concerns/companies from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, distributing products or offering services, advertising including on the Internet, and in any other manner using the Yahoo trademark or any other deceptively similar mark as part of their product name etc. amounting to infringement of plaintiff’s registered trademarks. The Court also directed AFPL and its Director to pay the plaintiff a sum of Rs 32 Lakhs towards damages and a sum of Rs 6.44 Lakhs towards costs incurred by the plaintiff.
Authored By – Nikhil Kumar
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