Bombay High Court
Single bench judge – Justice Burgess P Colabawalla
The trademark ISKCON has been declared a “well-known trademark” by a single bench judge of Justice Burgess P Colabawalla in the Bombay High Court in a commercial intellectual property (IP) suit filed. International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been using the trademark ‘ISKCON’ in India and worldwide in various jurisdictions. The Plaintiff states the term/trademark ISKCON was coined from a combination of the words of the Plaintiff’s name i.e. I from International, S from Society, K from Krishna and Con from Consciousness and not used by any other entity before this.
ISKCON was founded in New York by 1966 and then spread across into a worldwide confederation of over 600 temples, 65 eco-farm communities, centres, communities, schools, and 110 vegetarian restaurants with some 250,000 devotees. The first ISKCON temple in India was constructed in 1971.
International Society for Krishna Consciousness filed the present suit against an apparel company named Iskcon Apparel Pvt Ltd who were allegedly infringing upon the trademark and selling clothes online under the said trademark. Advocate for the Plaintiff, Hiren Kamod submitted that the infringement came to light In February and the defendant did not respond to the several summons. The Defendant changed its name to Alcis Sports Pvt Ltd but continued to use the trademark ‘Iskcon’ on their products in the course of trade.
In March, the Court was pleased to grant ad-interim injunction restraining the defendant from using the impugned trademark. On June 26, 2020 the Court declared the Plaintiff’s trademark to be a well-known trademark under the Trademarks Act, 1999. The Court observed a few salient points:
- The trademark is a coined terms which did not exist prior to the ISKCON’s adoption of the same and deserves the highest degree of protection.
- The trademark ISKCON had acquired immense goodwill and long-standing reputation throughout India and abroad and it is associated with the Plaintiff and none else.
- ISKCON has diligently safeguarded and protected its rights against infringing entities in various forums.
- As a well-known trademark ISKCON is no longer restricted to a single class or goods/services and is known in India and abroad.
- ISKCON has wide acceptability as a trademark and the popularity extends not only in India but in other countries as well.
In the past ISKCON attempted to enforce its trademark against several infringing entities, one of which was a real estate development company against construction of Iscon Mega Mall in the vicinity of the ISKCON temple premises.