Permanent Injunction Issued Against Infringement of ‘PUMA’ Trademark

In a judgment dated October 20, 2023, the Delhi High Court in Puma SE Vs. Ashok Kumar [CS(COMM) 703/2022 and IA 16559/2022] issued a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant, Ashok Kumar, trading as ‘Kumkum Shoes’ from manufacturing and selling products with the Plaintiff’s trademarks, ‘PUMA’ and the ‘leaping cat device’.

The Plaintiff, Puma SE, got its trademark registered in Germany in the year 1948. In India, the Plaintiff’s trademarks have been registered under various classes since 1977 and 1986, and its products are being sold through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Puma Sports India Pvt. Ltd. The Plaintiff, in September 2022, came to know that certain counterfeit products bearing its registered trademarks were being sold in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. An investigation revealed that the Defendant was engaged in the manufacturing and selling of such products not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in Delhi and Haryana.

This led the Plaintiff to file a suit before the Delhi High Court, which, vide order dated October 12, 2022, issued an interim injunction and appointed an advocate as a local commissioner. Thereafter, the infringing products were seized by the said local commissioner at the Defendant’s premises.

It was noted that though the Defendant entered appearance on March 20, 2023, he failed to file a written statement and did not enter appearance after the said date.

Further, the Court observed that the “use of ‘PUMA’ mark and logo by the Defendant on inferior quality products would not only result in violation of the Plaintiff’s statutory and common law rights but will also lead to erosion of the brand equity of the Plaintiff and result in dilution of the marks. Such infringement, if left unchecked, would also be contrary to the consumer’s interests, inasmuch as the consuming public may be purchasing the counterfeit products and paying a higher price presuming the same to be the Plaintiff’s branded products.”

With this, the Court ruled in favour of the Plaintiff. In its prayer, the Plaintiff requested damages to the tune of Rs. 2 crores. But, referring to case laws, the report of the local commissioner and Rule 20 of the Delhi High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2022, the Court determined that the damages have to be calculated keeping in mind the profits earned (based on estimated sales figures and costs of raw material), and the duration of the infringement (i.e., 2 years in the present case). Accordingly, the Court awarded Rs. 10 lakhs as damages and Rs. 2 lakhs as costs, payable by the Defendant within 8 weeks.