Delhi High Court Upholds AMUL’s Trademark Dominance: A Landmark Victory in Brand Protection

Delhi High Court Upholds AMUL’s Trademark Dominance: A Landmark Victory in Brand Protection

In a landmark decision on April 8, 2024, the Delhi High Court delivered a significant victory for Kaira District Co-operative Milk Products Union Ltd (the Petitioner) against D N Bahri, trading as Veldon Chemical and Food Products (the Respondent), in case C.O. (Comm.IPD-TM) 165/2023[1]. The court ordered the removal of the Respondent’s mark “AMUL” (Device) bearing no. 1182469 under class 32, aligning with the Petitioner’s request to rectify the Register of Trade Marks.

The Petitioner, widely known as the powerhouse behind India’s beloved dairy brand, “AMUL,” challenged the Respondent’s registration under class 32, which covers non-alcoholic drinks, including mineral and aerated waters. The Petitioner’s argument hinged on the fact that “AMUL,” an acronym for Anand Milk Union Ltd, was declared a well-known trademark by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in 2011. With numerous registrations in various classes, such as 05, 29, 30, and 31, and a legacy dating back to 1956, the Petitioner emphasized its longstanding and widespread reputation.

Contrarily, the Respondent asserted their use of the “AMUL” mark for beverages since December 1957, filing for registration in March 2003. However, the Petitioner argued that the Respondent failed to substantiate this claim, presenting only a single label without any supporting documents. The Petitioner cited the IPAB’s decision in M/s. F K Bearing Machinery Co. Ltd v. M/s. Modern Machinery Stores, highlighting the Registrar’s duty to examine the Register thoroughly.

The Respondent contended that their use of “AMUL” in a different product category and prior to the Petitioner’s application in 1998 should protect their registration. They also claimed that “AMUL” is a generic term derived from the Hindi word ‘Amulya.’ Additionally, they referenced the Supreme Court’s ruling in Nandini Deluxe vs Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited [2], arguing that a manufacturer cannot monopolize an entire class without bona fide intent to trade in all its articles. The Respondent also noted that the Petitioner did not object during their mark’s registration process.

In a compelling rebuttal, the Petitioner asserted that their class 32 registration remained valid, emphasizing that the Respondent had not sought its removal. They maintained that their diverse product range includes non-alcoholic drinks, reinforcing their claim.

Justice Anish Dayal of the Delhi High Court meticulously examined the arguments. He concluded that the Petitioner had established grounds for rectification under section 47, as the Respondent failed to demonstrate continuous use of the “AMUL” mark since 1957, presenting only a solitary label as evidence. The Court held that the mark ‘AMUL’ had acquired immense, undiluted, and enduring significance, making it clearly identifiable as the source of the Petitioner’s goods. Its protection would therefore transcend all classes, having been declared a well-known mark. The Judge noted the Petitioner’s earlier application for class 32 in 1998, predating the Respondent’s 2003 application by over five years. He stressed the Registrar’s responsibility to consider earlier registrations across various classes, as mandated by rule 33.

Consequently, the Court found that sections 11(1) and 11(2) of the Trade Marks Act were applicable, justifying the removal of the Respondent’s mark. The potential for passing off under section 11(3)(a) was also acknowledged. The Court allowed the rectification petition and ordered the removal of the Respondent’s mark from the Register, with directives to be executed within four weeks.

[1] 2024 SCC OnLine Del 2550
[2] (2018) 9 CC 183


-Adv. Kavita Srivastav Sharan

-Adv. Mittal Nor Patel

S.K Srivastav and Co.
Advocates & Solicitors
Tel: (022) 2267 4729
Web: / .in

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