Aachi Masala Foods is not entitled to monopoly right over such generic words and prevent others from using them

Intervening in a legal tussle over the use of a Tamil word , the Madras High Court has rejected a claim made by Aachi Masala Foods over ‘Aachi’ (elderly lady) when it attempted to restrain Aachi Aappakadai Chettinadu A/c Restaurant from using it.

Aachi Masala Foods, a leading manufacturer of masalas and spices, claimed that the expression ‘Aachi’ had become popular because of its continuous usage by it for over a decade.

Arguing that the Registrar of Trade Marks had granted the registration for the mark ‘Aachi’ to it in 2000, the company claimed exclusive rights to the mark. It had also obtained registration of the trademark for running an eatery, ‘Aachi Chettinad Restaurant.’

After they came across the restaurant bearing the name Aachi Aappakadai Chettinad A/c Restaurant in 2012, they filed a civil suit in the Madras High Court seeking to restrain the restaurant from using word ‘Aachi’.

In 2013, the Madras High Court had granted interim injunction restraining Aachi Aappakadai Chettinad A/c Restaurant. Hence it filed applications to vacate those interim orders.

The restaurant owners submitted that the word ‘Aachi’ means an elderly woman and was a common Tamil word which is predominantly used in the Chettinad region and had a close association with the Chettinad style of cooking.

They said they were not claiming exclusive right or monopoly over the word ‘Aachi’ since such word was generic in nature and hence could not be monopolised by an individual person or entity.

Vacating the interim order, Justice R. Subbiah held that Aachi Masala Foods was not entitled to claim monopoly right over such words and wrongfully prevent others from using such generic words.

“Since the word ‘Aachi’ registered by them in respect of restaurant business is a common word, and unless the same is put into use in the restaurant business, the applicants (Aachi Masala) cannot prevent others from using the same,” Mr.Justice Subbiah said.