The Delhi High Court recently restrained SNJ Distillers Pvt. Ltd. and Empee Distillers Ltd., (“Defendants”) from using the GREEN CHOICE mark or any other marks that are identical or similar to Allied Blenders and Distillers Pvt. Ltd.’s (“Plaintiff”) prior OFFICER CHOICE, OFFICER’S CHOICE BLUE and other CHOICE-formative marks for alcoholic beverages and Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).
It was the Plaintiff’s case that the Defendants dishonestly adopted the GREEN CHOICE mark for identical products as the Defendants had failed to provide any justification for the adoption of the mark, and that such adoption amounts to infringement and passing-off.
The Court observed that the Plaintiff not only has prior statutory as well as common law rights over the CHOICE-formative marks, but the OFFICER’S CHOICE mark has also been recognized as a well-known mark. Further, different courts had previously restrained various third parties from using CHOICE-formative marks such as, Emperor’s Choice, Master’s Choice, etc. The Court also observed that since the Plaintiff also offers various variants of the OFFICER’S CHOICE mark, the public will associate GREEN CHOICE with Plaintiff. The Court further noted that since the Defendants had entered a bottling arrangement with Plaintiff, the Defendants had knowledge of the Plaintiff’s reputation and huge sales turnover for whiskey under the mark ‘Officer’s Choice’.
The Court also rejected the Defendants’ contention that the word CHOICE was common to trade of whiskey, since the Plaintiff owned registrations of more than 70% of the CHOICE-formative marks cited by the Defendants.
Accordingly, the court made the ex parte ad interim order previously granted in favour of the Plaintiff absolute and restrained the Defendants from using the GREEN CHOICE mark till the disposal of the suit.
Allied Blenders and Distillers Pvt. Ltd. v. SNJ Distillers Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. [CS(COMM) 115/2022], Judgment dated April 19, 2023