Khadi is not a generic name and the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the legitimate owner of the trade marks “Khadi” and “Khadi India”, a tribunal has ruled.
The National Internet Exchange of India Domain Dispute Policy (INDRP) Arbitration Tribunal in New Delhi rejected the contention of a private entity that “Khadi” is a generic word and said use of the popular brand name by any other is likely to create confusion and deception with the goods/services of KVIC.
The order came on a complaint filed by KVIC challenging a domain name www.khadi.in being run by Delhi-based Jitendra Jain and his associates, with the tribunal holding that the domain name in question was registered in “bad faith”.
Directing that the domain name www.khadi.in be transferred to KVIC, Pankaj Garg, sole Arbitrator in the matter, said “Khadi” was not a generic name to be used by private individuals or firms and permanently restrained Jain and his agents from using the brand name Khadi.
“The impugned domain name is identical and confusingly similar to a named trademark as well as a service mark in which the KVIC has a right,” the Arbitrator said.
Further, the tribunal said, “It is an undisputed fact that KVIC, the complainant, is the legitimate owner of the trademark “Khadi”/ “Khadi India” and has acquired ownership in terms of the provisions of Section 17 of the Trade Marks Act 1999”.
“In the opinion of the Tribunal, the impugned domain name (www.khadi.in) is a trademark backed domain name and it not only violates the provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1999 but also violates Clause 4 of the INDPR policy issued by the NIXI,” the Arbitrator said.
“It is directed that the domain name www.khadi.in be transferred in favour of the complainant (KVIC)…the respondent and any person acting on its behalf are permanently restrained from using the domain name or any other deceptively similar trademark which may amount to infringement of the complainant’s registered trademark and also from doing any other thing which is likely to create confusion and deception with the goods/services of KVIC, the complainant,” the tribunal said in its recent order.
The Tribunal also instructed the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to take incidental or ancillary action involved in the transfer of the domain name, as directed.
KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said the order will bolster Khadi’s fight against violation of its brand name and help protect the legitimate rights of Khadi artisans.
“KVIC will not spare any effort to prevent any misuse of the brand name ‘Khadi’ as it has a direct bearing on the livelihood of our artisans who are making genuine handcrafted products in remote parts of India. KVIC will continue to take stern action against individuals or firms misusing the brand name Khadi. This is to safeguard the interest of Khadi artisans and prevent the sale of any spurious product in the name of Khadi,” Mr. Saxena said.
KVIC has been aggressively fighting legal battles to protect its brand names and logos , he said and referred to an order passed in March by the Delhi High Court which restrained a firm from using brand name Khadi and the Charkha symbol to sell its products under the name “IWEARKHADI”.
The high court had observed that “irreparable loss will be caused” if the firm was not restrained from using the Khadi brand name.
“The plaintiff (KVIC) has made out a prima facie case in its favour. The balance of convenience also lies in favour of the plaintiff, i.e. KVIC and irreparable loss will be caused in case an ex-parte injunction is not granted. Accordingly, till the next date of hearing, the defendants, their partners, servants, representatives, agents and all others acting on their behalf are restrained from manufacturing, selling, advertising any kind of goods or service under the trademark IWEARKHADI,” the high court had ruled.
The chairman said so far KVIC has issued legal notices to over 1000 private firms including Fabindia for allegedly misusing its brand name and selling products under the name of Khadi.
KVIC has sought damages to the tune of ₹500 crore from Fabindia which is pending before the Mumbai High Court, he said.