By – Nidhi Tandon
Many advertisers are trying to link their products directly or indirectly to Covid-19 or the circumstances surrounding it by blatantly peddling products through false or misleading claims related to Covid-19. One such claim was made by Baba Ramdev’s company, Patanjali Ayurved (Patanjali), that it has developed a 100% cure for COVID-19 through “Coronil”. However, this claim was short-lived as the Ministry of AYUSH stopped Patanjali from advertising false claims to treat Covid – 19. In the meanwhile, Patanjali went ahead and filed the trademark “Coronil” at the Trademark Registry as an immunity booster medicine.
The Madras High Court (Court) has now restrained Patanjali from using the trademark “Coronil” in relation to its products being marketed as immunity boosters. This order was passed in a trademark infringement suit filed by M/s. Arudra Engineering Private Limited (Arudra) against Patanjali and Divya Yog Mandir Trust (Trust).
Arudra is the registered proprietor of the marks “CORONIL-92B” and “CORONIL-213 SPL” under Class 1 for industrial chemicals since June 1993. Patanjali launched the much vaunted “Coronil” for curing coronavirus but in the face of a battery of complaints including from the Ministry of AYUSH, restated the same to be an immunity booster against coronavirus. Arudra filed a suit against Patanjali stating that the mark adopted by Patanjali for selling the drugs is identical to its registered trademark in all aspects. Arudra further stated that although the products sold by Patanjali are different, the use of the mark “Coronil” by Patanjali will dilute its global reputation built over the last 26 years, due to the perceived inefficacy of the product and the accompanying negative press. The defence by Patanjali was on the grounds of the products being wholly different and there being no possibility of confusion.
The Court held that Patanjali and the Trust are infringing Arudra’s trademark rights on the following grounds:
Arudra’s trademarks for “Coronil-92 B and Coronil-213 SPL” still subsist. Patanjali has only applied for registration of the mark “Coronil” and it is in the initial stages.
Due to the continuous use of the mark “Coronil” since 1993, Arudra has established a prima facie reputation in India and overseas among heavy industries where chemical agents are used to treat and prevent corrosion.
There is no direct material produced by Patanjali to show that “Coronil” is a treatment for Coronavirus andeven the reports in this connection have been claimed as false by the Ministry of AYUSH. Therefore, the use of the word “Coronil” by Patanjali will be detrimental to the distinctive character of the mark of Arudra.
There is also a possibility that the general public might question whether the trademark ‘Coronil’ of Arudra will also not prevent corrosion by drawing the analogy of the ‘Coronil’ of Patanjali, which does not cure Coronavirus.
In view of these observations, the Court held that Patanjali is just exploiting the fear among the general public by projecting a cure for Coronavirus and accordingly restrained Patanjali from using the trademark “Coronil” and imposed a fine of INR 10,00,000.