In this case, ITC Limited (hereinafter referred to as the Plaintiff) filed a suit against Britannia Industries Ltd (hereinafter referred to as the Defendant) to permanently injunct the latter from violating the packaging/trade dress rights of the Plaintiff’s products.
Brief facts and background of the case
The Plaintiff had launched a new product called “Sunfeast Farmlite Digestive – All Good” biscuit in February 2016. The packaging consisted a combination of the colors yellow and blue. . The
Defendant launched a similar product under the name “Nutri Choice Digestive Zero” biscuit a few months later (July 2016). The packaging of the aforesaid product was also done in yellow and blue.
The parties to this suit have previously been entangled in legal wrangles too. The
had filed a complaint against the Plaintiff before the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
In the present case, the Defendant had offered to replace the blue color in their packaging by another shade of blue, and the same was deemed unacceptable by the Plaintiff. The Defendant stated that the color blue is an integral part of their packaging, as it supposedly reflects the “World Diabetes Day”. As there was no consensus between the parties regarding the issues at hand, the suit went to trial on September 2, 2016.
The Plaintiff asserted three unique and distinctive features of their packaging. Details of the same are as under:
The brand name “Sunfeast” is written on the top-left hand side of the label on the yellow colored portion with the trade mark “Farmlite" underneath it, alongwith the mark “Digestive - All Good" situated below “Farmlite".
The color scheme used in the trade dress is Yellow and Blue. The left part of the packaging is in a yellow background and the right side of the packaging is in blue and both colors are separated by a curved line.
The picture of the biscuits appear on the right front side of the label which is depicted with a wheat spike/sheaf of wheat with grains lying at the bottom of an individual wheat biscuit with the words "No Added Sugar/Maida" written on the biscuit in a bold white font. The words Sugar and Maida are separated by a white horizontal dividing line between the two words.
The Plaintiff averred that the Defendant has copied various elements of their trade dress, including the color combination. They also submitted that the trade channels were identical and in furtherance to that also submitted sales and revenue as well as advertising figures to substantiate their claims.
The Defendant claimed that they held 66% of the market share, whereas the plaintiff had a meagre 1.8%. They also averred that the predominant color of the packaging of their product is yellow, and that blue is merely a secondary color used to indicate a connection to diabetes.
The Defendant stated that while there might be a similarity in the two packagings, when viewed as a whole there was no case made out for passing off. To that end, the defendant distinguished their packaging as follows: