Protecting German medical equipment manufacturer VBM Medizintechnik GmbH against the use of its ‘VBM’ mark by another entity, the Delhi High Court dismissed the claim of a company using the initials that it said denoted the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Hindu Gods – ‘Vishnu, Brahma and Mahesh’.
Justice C Hari Shankar, dealing with a lawsuit by VBM Medizintechnik, observed the defendant was running ‘VBM India Co’ while dealing in equipment manufactured by the plaintiff as its distributor as well as those produced by third parties.
The court said it was unable to accept the defendant’s “ingenious explanation” about the holy triad.
Underlining that there was no document on record to support the contention that the defendant envisaged VBM as an acronym for ‘Vishnu Brahma Mahesh’, the court observed its use was bound to confuse consumers.
“While the defendant might, perchance, have exposed himself to divine retribution for having invoked the Holy Trinity for unholy ends, this court, on a more terrestrial plane, also finds itself unable to accept this somewhat ingenious explanation for the acronym ‘VBM’,” said Justice Shankar in a recent order.
The counsel for the plaintiff disputed the defendant’s claim on the ground that the Holy Trinity was not ‘Vishnu Brahma Mahesh’ but ‘Brahma Vishnu Mahesh’, as the names of the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer are always cited in that order and not in a random sequence.
In its interim order, the court said the ‘Vishnu-Brahma-Mahesh’ explanation was too facile to pass legal muster, and directed that pending disposal of the lawsuit, the defendant shall be restrained from using VBM either as part of its corporate name or as a trademark in respect of medical equipment or any allied/cognate goods or services.
It said the defendant first chose ‘VBM India Co’ as the name of his firm and thereafter used ‘VBM’, in a style and lettering, which was closely imitative of the plaintiff’s and their marks. Thereafter, the defendant applied for and secured registration in favour of VBMIC of the deceptively similar mark, using which he was dealing in equipment and products not only manufactured by the plaintiff but also by other unrelated third parties.
The court said on being repeatedly queried, the defendant had the temerity to contend that VBM, as envisioned by him, stood for ‘Vishnu Brahma Mahesh’. There is “clearly an element of deceit”, it added.
The court stated it was prima facie convinced that the defendant was seeking to pass off the products in which it dealt as those manufactured by the plaintiff even where they were not actually manufactured by it.
“The facts of the case, therefore, eminently warrant grant of interlocutory injunction as sought by the plaintiff… Pending disposal of the suit, the defendant, as well as all others acting on its behalf, shall stand restrained from using ‘VBM’ either as part of its corporate name or as a trademark, whether as a word mark or as a device mark/logo, in any form or manner, including in respect of medical equipment or any allied/cognate goods or services,” the court said.
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