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11 September 2013

India clarifies sub-brands situation in single-brand retail FDI

India's Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion has clarified the government’s position with regard to foreign single-brand retailers’ sale of ‘sub-brands’. Brand owners expanding their presence in India after the relaxation of foreign direct investment rules should review their trademark strategies to ensure they have adequate protection in place to meet this requirement.

24 July 2013

Gillette fails to remove CHAMPION marks from register

In M/s Gillette India Ltd v M/s Harbans Lal Malhotra & Sons Pvt Ltd, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board has dismissed Gillette's request for removal from the Trademark Register of two CHAMPION marks belonging to M/s Harbans Lal Malhotra & Sons for razor blades and safety razors. The board concluded that Gillette's conduct was not in conformity with international commercial standards.

10 July 2013

India’s franchising industry could be worth $50 billion by 2017

A recent report estimates that the $13.4 billion Indian franchising industry could grow almost fourfold by 2017. The findings suggest vast opportunities for brand owners to take a stake in the country’s booming consumer market – but trademark counsel will have to be vigilant to ensure that brands are protected when entering into franchise relationships.

01 July 2013

Accession to the Madrid Protocol - is the Trademark Office ready?

In theory, both Indian and foreign trademark owners should benefit when the Madrid Protocol takes effect in India on July 8 2013. However, practitioners are concerned that the Trademark Office will not be able to comply with the strict timelines required by the protocol and, at the same time, deal with the current - and ever-increasing - backlog of applications.

05 June 2013

Indian Premier League brand-value down but not out after spot-fixing scandal

In the last few weeks, reports about the spot-fixing scandal during the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament have gone from bad to worse. Latest reports indicate that two prominent gangsters are now accused of masterminding the scam and are being sought by the Indian police. While the IPL takes a battering in the media, marketplace commentary indicates that the brand and its associated sponsors will emerge from the controversy relatively unscathed, offering a number of takeaways for brands involved in event sponsorships.

23 May 2013

Jaguar prevents registration of JAGUAR mark for watches

In Jaguar Cars Limited v Manufacture Des Montres Jaguar SA, the IPAB has upheld Jaguar Cars Limited’s opposition against the registration of the trademark JAGUAR for watches in Class 14. Among other things, the IPAB found that the registrar had erred in holding that Jaguar’s mark had to be registered in Class 14 in order to receive protection in relation to watches.

14 May 2013

Nestlé victorious in KIT KAT dispute

In a dispute between Société des Produits Nestlé SA and Kit Kat Food Products over the trademark KIT KAT, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board has ruled in favour of Nestlé. The decision shows that the fact that a party is not the first user of a mark in India is irrelevant if it is the first to use the mark worldwide.

29 April 2013

Use of mark in Indian market necessary to establish prior rights

The IPAB has dismissed a petition for the cancellation of the GATSBY mark, holding that the petitioner had failed to establish prior use of the GATSBY mark in India. The IPAB nevertheless noted that the petitioner was the first to adopt the mark on the international market, thus showing its unease with the registry's current practice of accepting trademark ownership claims at face value.

22 April 2013

Accession to Madrid Protocol announced

Six years after ratifying the Madrid Protocol, India has finally completed the accession process: the protocol will be effective in India from July 8 2013. The country is the 14th of the G20 economies to accede to the Madrid Protocol. While accession to the protocol will undoubtedly benefit both Indian and foreign trademark owners, there are concerns that the Trademarks Office will not be able to comply with the strict timelines provided for in the protocol.

28 March 2013

Delhi High Court orders restoration and renewal of mark despite 26-year lapse

In Union of India v Malhotra Book Depot, the Delhi High Court has upheld a decision of the single judge in which the latter had found that a mark cannot be removed from the register if the mandatory notice in Form O-3 has not been issued by the Trademarks Registry. The court did so even though it might “open the floodgates for applications for renewal/registration of trademarks which have lapsed a long time ago”.

28 March 2013

Brands get bold in fight for Indian consumers

A feature in India’s Economic Times outlines a number of high-profile comparative advertising campaigns carried out by companies operating in the country. Trademark counsel may be surprised at the nature of the comparisons made by advertisers – as well as the relatively free rein with which they appear to be able to use competitors’ products in their advertising.

27 February 2013

Clarity emerges on Indian health ministry’s pharma trademarks directive

Towards the end of last year, reports emerged from India suggesting that regulatory authorities in the country might be planning to restrict or even ban the use of brand names in the sale of pharmaceutical products. However, as more detail has emerged it is apparent the move is not the threat to trademarks that some speculated.

21 February 2013

Trademarks Office initiates special project to clear backlog

Close on the heels of a drive to clear oppositions which have been settled by the parties, the Controller General of Trademarks has initiated a new project to clear the backlog of requests pending before the Trademarks Registry relating to post-registration changes. This ambitious project aims to clear all requests filed up to December 31 2012.

18 January 2013

Could trademark troubles hamper the Indian expansion plans of international brands? (updated)

News from India last week suggested that IKEA’s plans to open its first stores in the country could be hampered by issues surrounding its trademarks. Retailers about to enter the Indian market in light of the country’s relaxation of foreign direct investment rules should make sure their trademark rights are secure.

12 December 2012

FDI in multi-brand retail okayed by Indian parliament – but how keen are brand owners?

Last week, the Indian parliament voted to approve foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail in the country, almost one year on since the limit on FDI in single-brand retail was removed. This potentially opens up major opportunities for leading retail chains such as Tesco, Wal-Mart and Carrefour – but stringent limitations and a mixed political reaction to the changes may result in a cautious approach from brand owners.