The Delhi High Court, in the case of Austin Nichols & Co Inc & Anr. v. Gwalior Distilleries Private Ltd, has ruled in the favour of the alcohol brand, Seagram’s, in an infringement suit, citing the use of the deceptively similar ‘Royal Champ’ mark by the defendants, Gwalior Distilleries Private Limited, against the plaintiff’s ‘Royal Stag’ mark.
The plaintiff contended that Seagram’s ‘Royal Stag’ whiskey is being manufactured and marketed by them, since 1995. Also, the plaintiff has a registered trademark for the same in India as well as in various other jurisdictions, across the globe. The defendants, who were marketing and selling their whiskeys, under the trade mark ‘Royal Champ’, were prima-facie, trying to ride upon the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiff and their mark, by adopting a mark which was deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s mark and was merely a “colourable and slavish imitation “of Royal Stag Label.
The Court found the sale of the ‘Royal Champ’ whiskey by the defendants to be in contravention of the provisions as have been prescribed under Section 51 read with Section 55 of the Copyright Act, and ordered the defendant to pay a sum of Rs. 20 lakhs as damages and costs of suit. The court applied the test of an “unwary consumer with average intelligence and imperfect recollection”, and opined that the mere usage of the term,“CHAMP” instead of “STAG” was not enough to distinguish the marks of the defendants from that of the plaintiff, and such colorable imitation of the plaintiff’s well-known mark clearly amounted toa copyright violation.