Law & Practice

INDIA: Dettol Halts Sale of Infringing COVID-19 Product

Published: July 8, 2020

Abhilasha Niroola Mehta & Mehta Associates (MehtaIP) Gurgaon, India INTA Bulletin—Asia-Pacific Subcommittee

Verifier: Aarohan Bansal ZeusIP Advocates LLP New Delhi, India  INTA Bulletin—Asia-Pacific Subcommittee

A recent case in the Delhi High Court provided another good example of how the COVID-19 pandemic is creating new challenges for brand owners, highlighting the importance of safeguarding brands against infringement.

The court, through its order dated May 28, 2020, in Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt. Ltd. (plaintiff) v. Mohit Petrochemicals Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. (defendants) [CS (COMM) No.141/2020] permanently restrained the defendants from using the infringing DEVTOL mark and logo.

Plaintiff’s Mark – Dettol Defendant’s Offering Mark – Devtol
Dettol Mark Devtol Mark
Dettol Mark Devtol Mark

The plaintiff, a manufacturer of a well-known antiseptic sold under the DETTOL registered trademark and logo (Indian Registration Nos. 1576501 and 141707), approached the Delhi High Court on finding that the defendants were selling hand sanitizers under the DEVTOL brand, which claimed to give protection from COVID-19.

Along with various other reliefs sought against the alleged infringing DEVTOL mark and logo, the plaintiff also sought direction to permanently restrain the defendants from using its trademark.

The defendants submitted that they had already taken steps to withdraw their application for the infringing DEVTOL mark, and that they would not manufacture or sell the product, that is, the hand sanitizer, under the infringing mark. Further, they stated that they had already written to their agents and dealers to withdraw the product bearing the infringing mark from the market.

The court, acknowledging that DETTOL was a well-known mark, passed a decree of permanent injunction against the defendants and imposed costs of INR 100,000 (US $1,325) on the defendants. This was directed to be deposited in the Juvenile Justice Fund being maintained in the name of the Registrar General of the High Court of Delhi, New Delhi.

Given the current global situation due to COVID-19, there has been an exponential surge in demand for hand sanitizers, which has led to the emergence of several new brands in a very short span of time to plug the demand-supply gap. The present order, which reflects the need of the hour especially since hand sanitization has become a matter of absolute necessity, should serve to deter future infringers.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

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