In an interim judgment, the Delhi High Court has restrained a Procter & Gamble subsidiary from using the trademark "all around protection" and "allrounder" in respect of its line of dental care products under the Oral-B brand. The court held that the use of the aforementioned terms is an infringement of the registered trademark of Anchor Health and Beauty care, a key player in the Rs 7,000-crore Indian oral-care market.
Anchor represented by senior counsel Prathiba Singh had sought a permanent injunction against P&G from using its registered trademark, arguing that the company had also successfully defended its mark against Colgate, who was using the expression "all-around decay protection". Singh told the court that Anchor, in July 2013, was shocked to learn that P&G was launching its product under the mark of Oral-B "all-round protection". The company claimed that the FMCG major was infringing its mark with an intention to ride piggyback upon the enormous reputation which Anchor had built up on the basis of its extensive advertisement.
P&G, on the other hand, argued that the Anchor's plea is liable to be dismissed "as it is structured on an inherently invalid trademark, being a completely descriptive expression incapable of having characteristics of a trademark,". "The expression 'allround' has invariably been used by Anchor in conjunction with the word 'protection' in relation to toothpaste and is thus devoid of any distinctive character. Being descriptive, it is not capable of distinguishing the goods of one person from those of another person. Further, it is submitted that the expression denotes characteristics, ingredients, features and quality of the product in question and could not have been registered as a trademark," P&G argued during the court proceedings.
Currently, Oral-B stands at a strong number two position in the tothbrush segment, with an estimated market share of 28%. Further, analysts claim that since the launch of Oral-B toothpaste in July last year it has been able to capture around 1-1.2% of the toothpaste market in India.