Vogue Institute Unlikely to be Confused with Vogue Magazine: Karnataka High Court

In the case of Vogue Institute of Management & Ors. Vs. Advance Magazine Publishers Inc, the Karnataka High Court granted Vogue Fashion Institute relief against the claim of trademark infringement instituted by the popular American fashion magazine, Vogue.

Vogue, published since 1892, had registered its trademark “Vogue” in India under Class 16. In 1998, it instituted a suit for infringement and passing off against a fashion training institute operating in India under the name and style of “Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology.” Consequently, the Institute was restrained from using the trademark ‘VOGUE’ as a part of their name and trading style by a permanent injunction issued by the District Court.

On appeal, the Karnataka High Court differed in its opinion from the trial court and the injunction was set aside. The High Court considered whether the mark was likely to deceive or confuse the public into buying the defendant’s goods or services as if they were connected to the Plaintiff’s goods and services. The Court observed that the plaintiff’s trademark did not cover the defendants’ activity of running a fashion institute and therefore did not amount to passing off.

Furthermore, the court held that merely asserting a trademark’s transborder reputation was insufficient to conclude reputation besmirching. In the present case, Plaintiff failed to plead and prove the twin concepts of goodwill and business to demonstrate that it had acquired a business reputation in another domain that entitled it to legal protection in India.

To decide on this matter, the Court relied on the education, intelligence, and degree of care of the consumers who might avail themselves of the defendants’ services and the likelihood of their confusion with the Plaintiff’s goods. The Court held that the purchaser of the magazine is likely to know that the plaintiffs do not run any institute. Similarly, members of the Defendants’ institute are unlikely to mix up the institute’s affiliation with the magazine.