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Lt Foods Limited v. Saraswati Trading Company, Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court recently decreed a trademark infringement and passing off suit in favour of LT Foods Limited (“Plaintiff”) against Saraswati Trading Company (“Defendant”) for using identical marks and packaging for sale of counterfeit basmati rice.

The Plaintiff submitted that it is the owner of the DAWAT/DAAWAT marks used in relation to basmati rice. As per the Plaintiff, the DAWAT mark was adopted in 1985, registered in 1987 and assigned to the Plaintiff in 2003. The Plaintiff also claimed that it has a strong distribution network in all major basmati rice consuming cities in India, as well as in other countries, including the US, Canada, UK, and EU. The Plaintiff further claimed that owing to its strict quality control standards, the DAWAT/DAAWAT marks have attained enormous goodwill and reputation in several countries around the world apart from India. As per the Plaintiff, it came to know about the Defendant’s product in late 2021. Upon examining the product, the Plaintiff found that, though the rice was being branded as basmati rice and sold in a packaging nearly identical to that of the Plaintiff’s, it was, in fact, a low-quality variant of rice which does not match the standards of the Plaintiff’s basmati rice.

The court had, while granting an ex-parte ad interim injunction in favour of the Plaintiff, appointed a Local Commissioner to prepare an inventory of the infringing goods. Based on the report submitted by the Local Commissioner, the court held that the Defendant is in blatant violation of the Plaintiff’s statutory and common law rights in the DAWAT/DAAWAT marks and packaging. The court further observed that while the owners of the Defendant entity were present during the execution of the Local Commission, they did not enter appearance or contest the suit. Accordingly, the court observed that the Local Commissioner’s report forms a part of the evidence in the suit, and no further evidence is required to adjudicate upon this matter. Given the fact that the product is rice for human consumption, and the Defendant is using an identical mark and packaging, the court observed that the acts of the Defendant are clearly dishonest. Consequently, the court decreed the suit and awarded the Plaintiff damages to the tunes of twenty lakh rupees and costs of five lakh rupees.

Lt Foods Limited v. Saraswati Trading Company, Delhi High Court, CS (COMM) 413/2021, Judgement dt. November 11, 2022.

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