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Recently, Alphavector India filed a suit before the Delhi High Court based on the deceptive similarity of its alphanumeric mark, NINETY-ONE/ 91 for bicycles, to the mark NINETY-NINE/ 99 for identical goods.

The plaintiff contended that it had been using the mark, NINETY-ONE/ 91, in both alphanumeric and word forms, since 2020. It also contended that it had been using various other formatives of 91, such as “91 CARES”, VECTOR91”, etc. that had acquired substantial reputation and goodwill in a short span of time. The plaintiff also asserted that the defendants started using the mark NINETY-NINE/ 99 in the year 2021, through their Facebook page, and on being notified of the similarity between the rival marks and the resultant consumer confusion, executed undertakings to change their mark.

The court noted that numbers are, in fact, capable of being used as trademarks when used alone, as part of an alphanumeric combination or spelled out in letters, especially if they are arbitrary and not related to a particular style or a grade of a product. The court further noted that the plaintiff’s mark NINETY-ONE/ 91 has gained reputation and goodwill and that a large section of consumers, including semi-literate persons, can be confused about the origin of bicycles that are bought by a large swath of the population. Keeping in view that the defendants had breached legally binding undertakings, the court granted an ex parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants from using the mark NINETY NINE/ 99 or any other mark that is deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s mark and also appointed a local commissioner to seize the infringing goods.

Alphavector India Pvt. Ltd. v. M/S Sach Industries & Ors. CS(COMM) 691/2022

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