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November 15, 2015 Vol. 20 No. 70 Back to Bulletin Main Page

INDIA: Louis Vuitton Victorious as Court Holds Mistaken Belief Not a Viable Defense

On August 20, 2015, the Delhi High Court passed a decree for permanent injunction in favor of the plaintiff in Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Mr. Manoj Khurana & Ors, relating to the issues of trademark infringement and selling of counterfeit products.

The plaintiff commenced using the trademark LOUIS VUITTON in 1854. Its initials “LV” represented in an intertwined manner have been in use since 1890, whereas the “Toile Monogram” design has been in use since 1896. Furthermore, the plaintiff has numerous registered trademarks in India for the above marks in Classes 3, 14, 18 and 25.

In April 2013, during a periodical market check, the plaintiff discovered that the defendant was illegally selling counterfeit goods such as handbags, wallets and belts under multiple trademarks and designs of the plaintiff. The sample products purchased from the defendants bore various infringing marks such as “Louis Vuitton,” the “LV” logo and the LV “Damier pattern.” The plaintiff thus sued for trademark infringement.

The plaintiff submitted to the High Court that only retail outlets licensed by the plaintiff are authorized to sell original Louis Vuitton goods in India. At present, according to the plaintiff’s website, there are only four such boutiques in India. The defendant raised a plea before the Court that it was selling counterfeit goods under the “wrong belief” that the goods were actually those of the plaintiff and that they were selling genuine products. The High Court however did not accept this argument, stating that “where LV goods are found to be sold outside the exclusive LV stores, an adverse inference is to be drawn … that the goods are counterfeit beyond any doubt whatsoever.”

The High Court issued a permanent restraining order against the defendant, thereby affirming that “mistaken belief” will not be considered as a viable defense for the act of infringement of goods. The High Court reconfirmed the well-known status of the plaintiff’s trademarks, and furthermore awarded costs of INR 50,000.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2015 International Trademark Association