Soft drink giant Pepsico India Holdings Pvt Ltd has won a legal battle in the Delhi High Court over the trademark 'Aquafina' used for its packaged drinking water.
A bench of Justice G S Sistani restrained PSI Ganesh Marketing from using "deceptively similar" trademark 'Aqua Fies' and causing infringement of rights in the trademark and copyright.
The court also awarded damages to the tune of Rs 5 lakh to Pepsico India on account of illegal activities of PSI Ganesh Marketing and ordered destruction of all the infringing goods within 4 weeks.
"On the basis of the documents placed on record, the plaintiffs have established that PepsiCo is the owner of the trademark, trade name, logo and label 'Aquafina' and the plaintiff have the exclusive right to use the same," the court said.
"The impugned trademark of the defendants is deceptively similar to the PepsiCo's trademark. The use of the word "Aqua Fies" by the defendants is likely to dilute the distinctive character of the plaintiffs trademark "Aquafina" and the same is likely to erode the goodwill and reputation of PepsiCo among its existing as well as potential customers in the market," it said.
Pepsico said that the 'Aquafina' product was launched in India as early as 1999 and it is a unique word coined and exclusively adopted by it.
It also said that under section 17 of the Copyright Act, all rights in the label are owned by the plaintiffs and the said label is distinctive and is an original artistic work under section 2 (c) of the Copyright Act.
The court held that "the adoption and use of the identical and/or deceptively similar trademark by the defendants in relation to identical products amounts to an infringement of the plaintiffs statutory rights in the registered trademark 'Aquafina'."
The judge held that the defendants were also guilty of passing off as by using an identical mark as that of the PepsiCo and were misrepresenting to the purchasing public that it was selling its goods in association with/in connection with the plaintiffs.
The defendants were thus causing confusion as to the source of the goods and passing them off as that of the plaintiffs, he said.
"Furthermore, the defendants in a mala fide, dishonest and an unethical manner are encashing upon the goodwill and reputation of the plaintiffs, established by the latter over the period of many years," it said.