Injunction against Patanjali from using ‘Coronil’; Madras HC slaps Rs 10 lakh fine, says firm exploiting fear
They are still chasing further profits by exploiting fear and panic among general public by projecting a cure for the Coronavirus, when actually their ‘Coronil Tablet’ is not a cure, the court said
In a big setback to Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved, the Madras High Court on Thursday made absolute, the injunction earlier imposed on the company from using the trademark "Coronil" in relation to its products being marketed as immunity boosters amid the COVID-19 pandemic, legal news website BarandBench.com has reported.
Last month, an interim injunction was passed in favour of Chennai-based Arudra Engineering Private Limited, which had registered the trademark for 'CORONIL-92 B' as an acid inhibitor product for industrial cleaning and chemical preparations for industrial use in June 1993.
While dismissing pleas moved by Patanjali and the Divya Yog Mandir Trust to vacate this ex parte interim injunction order, Justice CV Karthikeyan has also slapped a Rs 10 lakh fine to be paid jointly by the two defendants.
"The defendants have invited this litigation on themselves. A simple check with the Trade Marks Registry would have revealed that 'Coronil' is a registered trademark. If they had, and had still, with audacity used the name 'Coronil', then they deserve no consideration at all. They cannot assume they can bulldoze their way and infringe a registered trademark. They must realise there is no equity in trade and commerce. If they had not done a check with the Registry, then they are at fault. They cannot plead ignorance and innocence and seek indulgence from this court. Either way, indulgence is refused," Justice Karthikeyan remarked in his judgment passed on Thursday.
The court concluded that Patanjali and the Divya Yog Mandir Trust (defendants) have infringed Arudra's (plaintiff) trademark rights on the following grounds:
- Arudra's trademarks for “Coronil-92 B and Coronil-213 SPL” still subsists.
- The defendants have not established that their mark 'Coronil Tablet' is registered. Rather, the defendants have merely applied for registration and it is in the initial stages.
- Both the words 'Coronil' are the same and identical.
- There is a direct infringement on the unique name 'Coronil' by the defendants.
- The plaintiff has established a prima facie reputation in India among the heavy industries where chemical agents are used to treat and prevent corrosion. They have also established a reputation in industries overseas.
- The defendants have not shown due cause in naming their product as 'Coronil', since there is no direct material produced to show that it is a treatment for Coronavirus and even the reports in this connection, projecting such a cure have been adversely noted by the Ministry of Ayush, New Delhi.
- The usage of the word 'Coronil' by the defendants will be detrimental to the distinctive character of the mark of the plaintiff since there is no connection between the mark 'Coronil' used by the defendants and their projected statement that it is a cure for Coronavirus.
- There is a possibility that the general public might question whether the trademark 'Coronil' of the plaintiff would also not prevent corrosion by drawing the analogy of the 'Coronil' of the defendants, which does not cure Coronavirus.
The Court went on to remark,"... the defendants have repeatedly projected that they are Rs 10,000 crores company. However, they are still chasing further profits by exploiting the fear and panic among the general public by projecting a cure for the Coronavirus, when actually their 'Coronil Tablet' is not a cure but rather an immunity booster for cough, cold and fever."
The court added that, "The defendants must realize that there are organisations which are helping the people in this critical period without seeking recognition and it would only be appropriate that they are made to pay costs to them."
In view of these observations, the Judge proceeded to direct the defendants to pay Rs 5 lakhs each towards the Adyar Cancer Institute and the Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital, Arumbakkam, where, "treatments are afforded free of cost without any claim to either trademark, trade name, patent or design, but only with service as a motto."
The court has ordered that the costs be paid up by August 21.