This case study will give you a better picture of handling trademark opposition as it is about the famous ‘Maaza-War’ which is a trademark wrestle between two juggernauts of the Indian beverage industry.
Coca-Cola Co. Vs. Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd.
Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd (Defendant) is an Indian beverage company, best known for it’s bottled water. Bisleri assigned the trademark ‘MAAZA’ including the right to formulate, intellectual property rights and goodwill attached to the mark for India to Coca-Cola.
The year 2008, the defendant applied for registration of trademark ‘Maaza’ in Turkey, and then started exporting the mango flavored fruit drink with the mark ‘Maaza’. Coca-Cola Co. (Plaintiff) filed a petition for permanent injunction and damages for passing-off and infringement of the trademark. The Delhi High Court has asked Bisleri International to stop the sale of their soft drink module which is using the trade name ‘Maaza’ and is sold in India.
The issue had been contested in court for years in the Delhi High Court, this allowed the interim injunction in the matter, which was passed in the year 2008 and was ruled in favor of Coca-Cola Co. It has been reported that Bisleri International accused Coca-Cola of infringing intellectual property right (IPR) agreements which were dated all the way back to 1993 and 1994.
Bisleri challenged Coca-Cola’s moves to register the ‘Maaza’ trademark outside of India and sent the legal notice on the notion that the rights were granted under the assumption that the agreement stood valid only in India. However, Coco-cola claimed to be the absolute owner of the formulations and well known in India and also in abroad through the transfer of the know-how agreement with the Aqua Minerals and the confidentiality agreement with the Golden Agro, the sister concern of the Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd which was engaged in the manufacturing of the soft-drink.
The court ruled in favor of Coca-Cola and restrained Bisleri and its associates from using the trademark Maaza or any other Mark which would be deceptively similar concerning non-alcoholic beverages, Flavouring syrups, and other preparational products till the disposal of the case.
Whether exporting a product with the trademark ‘Maaza’ is considered as an infringement in the exporting country.
It was argued by the Plaintiff that the mark ‘Maaza’ concerning to the Indian market was assigned to Coca-Cola, and manufacture of the product with such mark whether for sale in India or for export would be considered as an infringement. The Defendants put forward their argument that their product had already been sold in Turkey but not in India, and that the Plaintiff’s rights have not been infringed. It was further argued that the mark ‘Maaza’ had been registered by the Defendant worldwide, can sell products with that mark anywhere on earth.
It was held that exporting goods from a country is considered as sale within the country from where the goods are exported and the same amounts to infringement of the trademark. As the Defendant was manufacturing and exporting the product with the mark ‘Maaza’ from India, Delhi High Court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter. The court granted an interim injunction against Bisleri from using the mark in India as well as for the export market.