New Delhi, May 12 () In response to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), a member of the Tata group of companies and the registered owner of the ‘Vivanta’ trademark, the Delhi High Court has permanently barred a hospitality company from using the ‘Vivanta’ mark.
Vivanta Hospitality Private Limited has also been fined Rs 6 lakh by Justice Amit Bansal, who found that the company’s use of the trademark ‘Vivanta’ in its trade name ‘Vivanta Vacation Club’ was identical to the mark used by the hotels managed by the Tata Group.
The court noted that the hotel company exploited the contested mark with the intention of drawing an association with Indian Hotels and to ride on its goodwill and reputation to jumpstart its business.
Justice Bansal also noted that under the guise of being affiliated to the Indian Hotels owned by Tata Sons, Vivanta Hospitality Private Limited defrauded a number of customers.
The court stated that the hospitality company had not only unfairly exploited the goodwill and reputation of Indian Hotels’ Vivanta mark, but it also misled unwary consumers into believing that they were associated with the latter, which would also cause the mark to become diluted and tarnished.
More than 100 complaints were submitted by the consumers who believed the defendant firm was affiliated to Indian Hotels, according to an inquiry conducted by the investigator for Indian Hotels.
Indian Hotels said that consumers who were not aware were likely to confuse the services or packages offered by the defendant company with those offered by Indian Hotels.
Perusing the report of the local commissioner appointed in the matter, the court observed: “The report of the local commissioner shows that that the defendant is engaged in the business similar to the plaintiff, under the trade name identical/deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff. The inventory prepared by the local commissioner shows that a large stock of infringing material was found at the premises of the defendant. Photographs have been filed along with the report showing that the defendant is using the name ‘VIVANTA VACATION CLUB’ in its ordinary course of business prominently.
“The user traffic may be diverted due to the use of the same or similar domain name, which could result in a user mistakenly accessing one domain name instead of the one intended. A domain name may, therefore, have all the characteristics of a trademark and could result in an act of passing off. Similarly, the use of ‘VIVANTA VACATION CLUB’ as part of their trade name is also likely to deceive unwary consumers of their association with the plaintiff.”
The court also ordered the destruction of the seized goods bearing the mark ‘Vivanta’ that were found on the defendant company’s property while issuing the order of permanent injunction.