Holding that ‘Snax’ is phonetically similar to the word ‘snacks’, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has rejected a claim of Britannia Industries Ltd. for registration of the trademark ‘Snax’ for its biscuit product.

Dismissing an appeal made by Britannia, the Board, comprising its Vice-Chairman S. Usha and member V. Ravi said, “Snacks means some light food.  When a trade mark has a direct reference to the quality of the goods for which registration is sought for, such mark shall not be granted registration.”

Following opposition from PepsiCo, the Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks, Kolkata, refused to register Britannia’s trade mark ‘Snax’ in 2006. The Deputy Registrar also held that a generic word or expression could not be a subject of trademark registration. He also said the mark was phonetically equivalent to the word ‘snacks’, which directly refers to characteristic of the goods in question. While rejecting Britannia’s claim, the Deputy Registrar also said the word could not be monopolised by anyone as it would be required by other legitimate traders to describe their products in the course of trade.

Aggrieved by the Deputy Registrar’s order, Britannia Industries Ltd. filed the present appeal before the IPAB. It contended that its mark ‘Snax’ was conceived and adopted in 1965 and has been in use for more than 40 years. The company also submitted that ‘Snax’ was not a dictionary word, but a coined term that was “inherently distinctive”.

However, PepsiCo said ‘Snax’ was nothing but a variant of the common English word ‘snacks’ and was devoid of distinctive character.

Agreeing with the order, the Board also held that the word ‘Snax’ was a direct reference to the character or quality of the goods and that it might be difficult to establish that it had lost its primary significance.

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