Bombay HC Refuses to Vacate Interim Relief to Mumbai’s Haji Ali Juice Centre

In the case of Asma Farid Noorani v Haji Ali Fresh Fruit Juices and Ors, the Bombay High Court refused to vacate the ex-parte interim relief granted to Asma Farid Noorani (Plaintiff), who runs Haji Ali Juice Centre in Mumbai against Haji Ali Fresh Fruit Juices (“Defendants”) in a trademark infringement suit.

In this case, the Plaintiff’s father had opened a juice centre in 1971 overlooking the Haji Ali Dargah and adopted the mark “Hajiali Juice Centre” in 1976. The word mark and the label “Hajiali Juice Centre” and the device of a red apple was registered in Class 43 and 32 in 2010 and 2001, respectively. Given the brand’s popularity, the Plaintiff contended that many outlets had copied the name to capitalise on their goodwill.

The Defendant was using the name and mark “Haji Ali Fresh Fruit juices” with the device of a red apple without any authorisation from the Plaintiff. Owing to the urgency of the matter, the Court granted the Plaintiff ad-interim relief as, as the Defendant’s was likely to cause confusion amongst the consumers. The Defendant, having filed their response, stated that the Plaintiff was suppressing facts and relevant material regarding earlier disputes and prior litigation with Defendant relating to the matter. 

The Defendant claimed that “Haji Ali” are Publici juris (of public right) and that the Plaintiff cannot claim exclusivity to the same. Further, they claimed that since the Plaintiff had consented to the presence of the Defendant with the same mark after being made aware of an outlet with the same name in Ernakulam, the Plaintiff cannot pursue the matter any further. The Defendant also argued that there are several entities that have misused the mark, and the Plaintiff cannot presume that there is a link between the establishments.

The Court held that there isn’t enough information in the public domain that the Plaintiff can access to prove that the establishments are owned by different firms/people. It further stated that the Plaintiffs were not suppressing facts as the earlier suits remained pending and were dismissed in default. The Court held that the concept of Publici Juris will not hold as the Defendant themselves wanted to have trademark rights over the name “Haji Ali” and that the Plaintiffs had resisted the misuse of the name by initiating litigation in the past.  

Further, the Court held that on a prima facie level, the marks are identical and deceptively similar; hence the Plaintiff is entitled to protection.