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IPAB refuses use of trademark 'Sony' by India's AB Textiles

The IPAB came down heavily on the decision of the deputy registrar in refusing the Japanese firm's opposition and allowing the textile firm to register the trade mark

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The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), in its order over an appeal filed by Japanese electronics major Corporation, has refused the registration of the ‘abt Sony’ by Kolkata-based firm AB Textiles.

The order came after an appeal was filed by Sony Kabushiki Kaisa, also trading as Sony Corporation, against the decision of the deputy registrar of trade marks, Kolkata, permitting to register the trademark ‘abt Sony’ and refusing Sony Corporation’s opposition against it.

AB Textiles has registered the trademark under Class 25 for its brand of ladies and gents undergarments. IPAB’s vice chairman S Usha and technical member (Trade Marks) V Ravi allowed the appeal filed by Sony Corporation, refusing registration of the trade mark under question by Purushottam Agarwal and Ashok Agarwal, trading as AB Textiles.

The board came down heavily on the decision of the deputy registrar in refusing the Japanese firm’s opposition and allowing the textile firm to register the trade mark. “It is clear the respondent was trying to take unfair advantage of the famous mark Sony to the detriment of the reputation of the appellants and is against the honest practice in industrial or commercial matters,” said the order.

It also observed the essential features of the respondent’s mark ‘abt Sony’ include the whole of appellants mark ‘Sony’ with  ‘abt’ used as a prefix in conjunction with Sony, which is merely an alibi.

The public and consumer will ask for Sony garments and not ‘abt’ possibly thinking it originates from Sony trade mark owners. The main idea of both the marks hinges on Sony, it added.

The expression ‘abt’ in the apparel firm’s brand is derived from the trading style AB Textiles. The trademark claimed by AB Textiles was with respect to the goods including undergarments for ladies and men’s undergarments for sale in the West Bengal and Assam.

Some of the major trade mark litigations ordered by in the recent past:  
Applicant Respondent Dispute Order
ITC Ltd  Three-N-Products Pvt Ltd Rectification application by ITC against certain trade mark registrations on the name Ayur Rectification application allowed (Order in June, 2013)
Britannia Industries Limited PepsiCo Inc Appeal against Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks refusing registration of trade mark Snax Appeal dismissed, upholding decision of Deputy Registrar (Order in August, 2013)
Alberto-Culver USA Inc Shyamal Pharma Rectification application for the removal of trade mark Nexus Allowed rectification application, removing trademark Nexus of Shyamal Pharma (Order in September, 2013)
Nirmal Industrial Controls Pvt Ltd Nirma Chemical Works Pvt Ltd & Nirma Ltd Application seeking removal of registered trade mark 'Nirma' under no 422864 in Class 6 Order in favour of Nirmal Industries, removed trade mark Nirma from the Class 6 for metal goods (Order in September, 2013)
Sunil Grover, Trading as Analog Systems Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha (Sharp Corporation) Appeal against order of Dy Registrar of Trade Marks refusing application for trade mark Sharp for its products Appeal dismissed, upholding refusal of application of Analog Systems (Order in September, 2013)

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