Thursday, February 19, 2015

Microsoft is a Well-Known mark now; now declared!

Much debate revolves around which should be treated as a well-known mark, and which does not qualify for such “extended” protection. In a case of its own kind, the Delhi High Court has let Microsoft enjoy the celebrated status of being “well-known” amongst the public en masse.

The Plaintiff’s contentions that the company enjoys stellar reputation across the world, and enjoys a market at a global level, boasting of equally great volumes of usage have yielded in punitive damages being awarded in an ex parte case. With heavy investments having flown from the company into advertisements and brand management, the brand name is now exclusively identified and associated with the company.

The court relying on an earlier Supreme Court judgment in N R Dongre v. Whirlpool Corporation has held that Microsoft is a “well-known” trade mark, and that no one else is entitled to use the mark in a similar or dissimilar business as the mark had come to acquire unique goodwill and reputation.

The Court went on to hold that awarding punitive damages, is an appropriate vehicle for deterring infringers from engaging in illegal trade practices in their greed for business. The Court has awarded Rupees Two lakhs in terms of compensatory damages, Rupees Three lakhs in the form of punitive damages and another Fifty Thousand Rupees as costs to the suit.

With this, the brand name Microsoft joins the elite list of “well-known” marks, as maintained by the Registrar of Trade Marks. 

- Bagmisikha Puhan