Explaining use of mark by reverse deduction trivialize trademark rights; injunction granted against use of BURGER KING

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Pratibha M. Singh, J. granted injunction in favour of the plaintiff restraining the defendant from using the mark BURGER KING.

The plaintiff, Burger King Corporation, was the registered owner of the mark BURGER KING and its logo. It started its first restaurant in 1954 with the same name in Miami, Florida. At present, it owns some 13,000 restaurants internationally. The present suit was filed alleging that the defendants were operating a restaurant by the name BURGER KING RESTAURANT  in Varanasi. They had also applied for registration of the same. Registration was also sought by the defendants for the mark BURGER EMPEROR. The plaintiff issued a cease and desist notice in November 2011 which was not complied with. Under these circumstances, the plaintiff sought the permanent injunction against the defendants.

The High Court was of the view that it had to consider balance of probabilities in respect of adoption and use of the said mark and logo. The Court found an uncanny resemblance between the two logos. The plaintiff showed the registration of the same dating back to the year 2000. The defendants were not able to show any use thereof prior to that date. Thus, the use of by the defendants of an imitative logo was held to be a violation of plaintiff’s rights. In so far as the use of trademark BURGER KING was concerned, the defendants said that it was derived from the initials of their family members. It was observed that the explanation for the coinage of the mark makes it clear that the defendants were trying to adopt a process of reverse deduction to explain the use of the mark BURGER KING. Such an explanation, if adopted, would lead to trivializing trademark rights. In such facts and circumstances, the Court was of the view that the relief of injunction already granted in the year 2014 should be made absolute. Order was passed accordingly. However, the defendants were free to use the mark BURGER EMPEROR. The matter was disposed of in the terms above. [Burger King Corpn. v. Ranjan Gupta,2018 SCC OnLine Del 11484, dated 24-09-2018]

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