Family fight breaks out over Krishna Sweets

High Court grants interim stay for two weeks and orders issuance of notices to the IPAB and Mr. Murali.  

In not so sweet news, the famous Sri Krishna Sweets, known for its mouthwatering Mysurpa, has got embroiled in a legal battle over trademarks. What’s more is that the dispute is between M. Krishnan and M. Murali, the two sons of the firm’s founder N.K. Mahadeva Iyer. The Madras High Court on Thursday entertained a batch of three writ petitions filed by Sri Krishna Sweets, represented by its Managing Director Mr. Krishnan, and stayed the operation of an order obtained by Mr. Murali from the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) on May 21.

A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and R. Pongiappan granted the interim stay for a period of two weeks and ordered issuance of notices to the IPAB as well as Mr. Murali. They also stayed all further proceedings initiated by the latter before the IPAB after the May 21 order. In his affidavit, Mr. Krishnan, 64, stated to have started Sri Krishna Sweets Private Limited as a partnership firm in 1979. “I took lot of efforts and care for promoting the name of the business by giving due importance and emphasis for the name Krishna and coined the words Sri Krishna Sweets in such a way that it has a special appeal,” he said.

Claiming to have got three trademarks registered, he said the company was originally promoted by his wife and him. Mr. Murali was inducted as director only on March 23, 2002 and held the post till his resignation on August 27, 2010. It was further claimed that the younger brother was permitted to do use the trade marks in select territories.

As per the leave granted by the writ petitioner, Mr. Murali opened branches of the sweet shop in Chennai, Puducherry, Tiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur. “I wrote a letter to the fourth respondent (younger brother) on September 30, 2015 requesting him to regularise the permission arrangement for which he did not cooperate.

“The petitioner also sent a letter on October 30, 2015 to the fourth respondent revoking the permission granted in favour of him in view of his failure to cooperate with the petitioner in regularising the permission granted to him. This resulted in a suit being filed by the petitioner before Additional District Judge, Coimbatore in 2016,” the petitioner said.

The main prayer in the suit was to restrain the younger brother from infringing the trademarks. Though the petitioner had also sought for an interim relief to restrain Mr. Murali from using the word ‘Krishna,’ the interlocutory application was dismissed by the district court on June 5, 2017.

Further, the High Court too dismissed appeals preferred by the writ petitioner against the lower court’s refusal to grant interim relief. However, a direction was issued to the district court to complete the trial within a year and when the suit was ripe for trial, Mr. Murali filed petitions before the IPAB to get the petitioner’s trademark registrations cancelled.

There was a legal hitch before the IPAB, hence the younger brother’s counsel urged the Board to treat the petitions as abandoned with liberty to file fresh applications. The IPAB granted the liberty on May 21 and it was that order which was under challenge at present before the High Court.

Mr. Krishnan contended that the IPAB becomes functus officio after treating a petition as abandoned and it does not have any authority under law to grant liberty for filing a fresh application. Grant of such liberty had made Mr. Murali to file fresh applications challenging the writ petitioner’s trademarks, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 9:58:50 PM |

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