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Delhi HC restrains crypto firms from using Tata trademark

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has granted an ex-parte ad-interim injunction to Tata Sons while restraining Hakunamatata Tata Founders from using the former’s trademark “Tata” without authorisation.

In the matter, Tata Sons had filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining infringement of trademarks, passing off, dilution and tarnishing of trademarks and copyrights etc. It had mainly sought ad-interim injunction against Hakunamatata from using the company’s trademark Tata for business purposes.

Tata Sons is the holding company of Tata group of companies, and is the owner and registered proprietor of the trademark Tata, and also its various permutations and combinations. Tata Sons, and its group companies and claims to be India’s largest private sector employer.

A bench led by Justice Mukta Gupta held “Not granting ad-interim injunction can cause irreparable harm to the goodwill enjoyed by the Tata Son’s trademark. The company is known for the quality of its goods and services. Any dubious and inferior products sold through the respondents’ website, using the company’s trademark, can seriously damage its credibility.

The court restrained Hakunamatata’s partners or proprietors from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, supplying, advertising or unauthorisedly using the appellant’s well-known trademark Tata, or any other deceptively similar mark thereto as part of the name of their digital cryptocurrency Tata Coin/$Tata or as part of their corporate name/domain name and websites ‘www.tatabonus.com’/social media pages amounting to infringement/passing off. The court in this regard has asked the said crypto currency to be delisted.

Tata Sons alleged that Hakunamatata had businesses registered in the US and UK, that used its trademark for carrying out online trading in cryptocurrency through their websites ‘www.tatabonus.com’ and ‘www.hakunamatata.finance’. It also alleged that the websites are accessible in India and are in fact accessed by visitors from Delhi on daily basis.

Tata Sons discovered the website named ‘www.tatabonus.com’, in June 2021, via which Hakunamatata was found to be offering for sale and exchange cryptocurrency by the name of “Tata” coin. On search, it was revealed that Hakunamatata was the entity behind the website. Besides cryptocurrency, the latter was found to be selling merchandise, such as t-shirts, shorts, caps, facemasks etc, under the name ‘TATA’.

Incorporated in 1917, Tata Sons said that its trademark Tata is derived from the surname of its founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, is reportedly in continuous and consistent use since then.

It also claimed that as on March 31, 2021, the market capitalisation of 29 publicly-listed Tata group companies was about ₹17,80,000 crore and they employed 800,000 people worldwide. It is the appellant’s case that on account of the distinctive nature, the name and the trademark Tata have acquired excellent reputation.

“Even otherwise, we do not have any reason to doubt the pre-eminence of the trademarks of the appellant in India”, the court held.

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