I AM WHAT I AM slogan not used as trademark, says Supreme Court


In a decision first reported in April, the Supreme Court of India has overturned an earlier decision and has refused the plaintiff's request for an interlocutory injunction prohibiting the defendant from using the slogan I AM WHAT I AM (Gomzi Active v Reebok India Co (Case 440/2007, February 2 2007)).

The plaintiff, Gomzi Active, filed a passing off claim against Reebok India Co, claiming exclusive rights in the slogan I AM WHAT I AM, which was being used by Reebok along with its REEBOK trademark to promote certain of its products. The trial court held that the trademark on which Gomzi based its business was GOMZI and hence the use of the slogan I AM WHAT I AM on its products did not qualify as a trademark or a logo so as to justify an interlocutory injunction in a passing off action. The court noted that the fact that Reebok used the slogan in conjunction with its own mark also suggested that Reebok had not engaged in passing off. Accordingly, the trial court refused to issue an interlocutory injunction.

On appeal, the High Court reversed the decision of the trial court and granted the injunction. Reebok appealed to the Supreme Court.

Overturning the High Court's decision and agreeing with the findings of the trial court, the Supreme Court held that in these circumstances an interlocutory injunction was not justified. It stated that Gomzi had not used the slogan as a mark for its products as it always appeared in conjunction with its other marks, which carried the full weight of distinguishing its goods.

Mustafa Safiyuddin, DSK Legal, Mumbai

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