Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to vacate interim stay granted in favour of the Haji Ali Juice Centre (HAJC) in a trademark infringement suit filed against a Vijayawada-based fruit juice centre.
Justice Manish Pitale observed that the trademark–the name Haji Ali with the logo of a red apple–was registered with the HAJC, while the one used by the defendants was “deceptively similar” to it.
Case filed in 2021
The HC was hearing an application filed by HAJC owner Asma Noorani who sought that the Vijayawada’s Haji Ali Fresh Juice Centre should continue to be restricted from using the trademark.
Defendant, too, had filed an application seeking that the interim stay be vacated.
“It must be remembered that the plaintiff (Noorani) has placed on record documentary material to show that its word mark (Haji Ali) and also the label consisting of the device of the red apple are registered in favour of the plaintiff,” said Justice Manish Pitale. He continued, “… and a bare look at the mark being used by the defendants shows that the same is prima facie identical.”
In June 2021, Noorani had filed a suit in the HC after learning about the Vijayawada juice centre which was using the mark ‘Haji Ali Fresh Juice Centre’ along with the red apple logo. According to Ms Noorani, the trademark was identical to the one used by the HAJC.
The HC had prima facie found that the defendant’s mark was likely to “cause confusion amongst consumers”.
The defendants claimed that Ms Noorani had deliberately suppressed facts regarding a similar suit which she had earlier filed against a juice centre in Kerala. But the HAJC owner contended that she didn’t bring up the Kerala juice centre suit as there was no direct link between these establishments.
Court: ‘No way to establish connections between the establishments’
The HC upheld Noorani’s argument that there was no way to establish any connections between the establishments at Andhra Pradesh and Kerala due to absence of any material in the public domain.
The defendants’ further argued that the word ‘Haji Ali’ were publici juris (of public right) and the HAJC could not claim exclusivity over the same. To this, Ms Noorani pointed out that the managing partner of the Vijayawada establishment had sought registration of the mark, which contained the words ‘Haji Ali’.
“In any case, the defendants themselves having applied for registration of their mark consisting of the words ‘Haji Ali,’ shows that they are blowing hot and cold at the same time,” noted the HC. It reasoned, “In this backdrop, this Court is of the opinion that the plaintiff has indeed made out a case in her favour for continuation of the ad-interim reliefs in the interest of justice.”