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INFOSYS LIMITED Vs. SOUTHERN INFOSYS LIMITED

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court has, in a suit for injunction filed by Infosys Ltd (“Plaintiff”), restrained Southern Infosys Limited (“Defendant”) from using the mark INFOSYS as part of its corporate name.

 

It was the Plaintiff’s case that the Defendant’s adoption and use of INFOSYS as part of its corporate name constitutes infringement of the Plaintiff’s rights in the same.

 

The Defendant argued that the term Infosys is generic and descriptive of the Plaintiff’s services, citing a 1999 Ministry of Corporate Affairs circular that allowed the use of the term Infosys as a part of corporate name to support its claim. The Defendant also argued that, while the Plaintiff has admitted that it had sent a notice to the Defendant in 2023, it has concealed material facts that, it has also issued similar notices in 2001 and 2020, which shows that the Plaintiff was aware of the Defendant’s use of Infosys since 2001. Accordingly, the Plaintiff was not only aware of the Defendant’s presence and use of INFOSYS as a corporate name, but there is also a delay of more than two (2) decades in instituting the present suit. Hence, such delay, and the Plaintiff's acquiescence make the suit inadmissible. The Defendant, lastly, argued that, even on the merits of the case, the Plaintiff is not entitled to any relief due to the dissimilarity of the rival goods/services.

 

The Court dismissed the Defendant’s reliance in the MCA’s circular and consequently, Defendant’s claim that the mark INFOSYS is generic, and the ruled that, such government advisories are to ensure that a company’s name accurately reflects its business activities, and it does not automatically deprive these terms from acquiring distinctiveness as trademarks. The Court also dismissed the Defendant's claim that INFOSYS is descriptive, as the mark has acquired secondary meaning and is well-known.

 

The Court also dismissed the Defendant's defence of material concealment, stating that it had not provided a copy of the Plaintiff's 2001 notice and that the 2020 notice was issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the non-disclosure of 2020’s notice is un-intentional. The Court also ruled that acquiescence must be active and positive from the Plaintiff, and without sufficient evidence from the Defendant, the Court did not deny the Plaintiff's relief sought, despite the Defendant's argument of delay and acquiescence.

 

The Court lastly, ruled that, since the suit is filed under Section 29(5) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999, under which use of a registered trademark as a corporate name amounts to infringement, any differences in the actual services does not assist the Defendant. The Court further ruled that, in any case, there is an overlap of rival goods/services and hence, a case of infringement is made out.

 

The Court, accordingly, granted an ad interim injunction in the Plaintiff’s favor and granted the Defendant four months’ time to transition to a non-infringing trade name after the expiry of which the Defendant will cease use of the trade name INFOSYS.

 

INFOSYS LIMITED versus SOUTHERN INFOSYS LIMITED CS(COMM) 257/2024, Judgment dt. May 27, 2024

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