TATA Sons Fail to Protect Trademark in Singapore Courts

The Intellectual property office of Singapore (IPOS) recently denied TATA Sons, trademark rights based on their “well-known” status. TATA Sons is the principal investment holding company of Indian multinational TATA group.

The leading Indian company was unable to pre-empt the registration of “Tata Harper”, a cosmetic, toiletry and skincare company operating in Singapore.  

The applicant was using the mark “Tata Harper” in Singapore and in foreign markets. TATA Sons opposed this registration by citing Section 8(4) of the Singapore Trade Marks Act 1998 which provides protection against damages, dilution or unfair advantage and Section 8(7)(a) which states that a mark shall not be registered if its use in Singapore is liable to be prevented by the law of passing off.

IPOS however, failed to see merit in TATA Sons’ case and stated that both the marks were more dissimilar than similar and that TATA Sons had failed to convince the court of the “connection” and “damage” the applicant’s trademark would cause to TATA Sons. Further, IPOS held that there was no sufficient evidence presented by TATA Sons to prove that consumers would  be confused or affected by the similarity of both the marks.

Since, TATA Sons failed to establish how the applicant’s mark would misrepresent and damage the goodwill of TATA Sons, they could not be granted a de facto monopoly on “TATA” as per the Trademark Laws of Singapore. However, IPOS acknowledged the lack of a coherent legal jurisprudence surrounding legal rights conferred on proprietors who have achieved a “well known” status for their trademark and hoped for more clarity from the Courts of Singapore in future.