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A division bench (‘DB’) of the Delhi High Court recently set aside an order of a Single Judge that granted an interim injunction in favour of KEI Industries Ltd. (‘Respondent’). The Respondent had originally filed a civil suit to restrain Raman Kwatra & Anr. (‘Appellants’) from using the KEI device or any marks similar to the Respondent’s registered KEI marks in relation to electrical goods or instruments or allied or similar goods.

The injunction was granted on the ground that, prima facie, the Respondent’s word mark KEI is infringed by the Appellant’s KEI device mark as it was used in relation to allied and similar goods, namely, electric fan, geyser and water immersion rods. While ruling so, the Ld. Single Judge had disregarded the Appellant’s contention that the Respondent cannot now claim relief against use of the KEI device mark based on similarity between the rival goods when, at the examination stage of its application for the KEI mark, it had distinguished its services from those covered by the Appellant’s KEI device mark. He further held that, after the grant of registration, neither the Examination Report nor the Respondent’s reply would be relevant in a suit. Accordingly, it ruled that there is no estoppel against a statute and the Respondent’s stand taken in a proceeding before the Trade Marks Registry is not relevant in the suit.

The DB observed that the Ld. Single Judge has erred in its application of the principle of ejusdem generis (Latin for ‘of the same kind’) by interpreting the goods description covered by the Respondent’s application, i.e., ‘other kinds of electrical and electronic instruments’ to cover household electrical appliances. As per the DB, a correct application of ejusdem generis would mean to include only goods related to conduction and manipulation of electricity, and not electrical appliances per se. The DB also dismissed the ruling of the Ld. Single Judge that there is no estoppel against a statute. Rather, it held that the Respondent shall not be allowed to make representation and assertions contrary to the ones made in a proceeding before the Registry. Accordingly, the DB set aside the impugned order. With respect to the Respondent’s claim of infringement of its trademarks on grounds of dissimilar goods, the DB remanded the matter to the Ld. Single Judge for prima facie examination.

Raman Kwatra & Anr. v. M/S KEI Industries Limited FAO(OS) (COMM) 172/2022. Order dt. January 6, 2023.

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