India: British onslaught on the Government’s Make in India Lion

April 3, 2017

Remember the very first Independence Day Speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? From the ramparts of the Red Fort he had famously announced,

“Let’s resolve to steer the country to one destination. We have it in us to move in that direction. Come, make in India”, “Come, manufacture in India”. Sell in any country of the world but manufacture here. We have got skill, talent, discipline, and determination to do something. We want to give the world a favorable opportunity that come here, “Come, Make in India” and we will say to the world, from electrical to electronics, “Come, Make in India”, from automobiles to agro value addition “Come, Make in India”, paper or plastic, “Come, Make in India”, satellite or submarine “Come, Make in India”. Our country is powerful. Come, I am giving you an invitation

And bang! Forty-one days later at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, Modi announced the launch of India’s most ambitious plan to boost manufacturing in the country called, ‘Make in India’, in the presence of business stalwarts like Mukesh Ambani, Cyrus Mistry, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Azim Premji.

To give the initiative a truly symbolic touch, during the event a logo was also released, which is a derivation from India’s national emblem. The wheel denotes the peaceful progress and dynamism – a sign from India’s enlightened past, pointing the way to a vibrant future. The prowling lion stands for strength, courage, tenacity and wisdom – values that are every bit as Indian today as they have ever been.

Thereafter, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (hereinafter referred to as the ‘DIPP’), the body responsible for the overseeing the day to day operations related to this initiative filed for a trademark application in Classes 9,16,18,25,28,35,38,41,42, which got advertised in the Trade Marks Journal dated January 19, 2015.

However, on May 18, 2015, Lonsdale Sports Limited, a boxing, mixed martial arts and clothing brand based out of London, England, filed notices of opposition against the ‘Make in India’ mark, in all the classes.

The grounds of opposition in the application are as follows –

  • Lonsdale uses lion trademarks, collectively called “Lion Marks” on their products. They have two of their Lion Marks registered in India and applications for two Lion Marks have been advertised. They also have applications and registrations of the Lion Marks in other countries.
  • The trademarks of Lonsdale have been used for many years and their products have been worn by renowned sports personalities and celebrities. Because of the historic adoption and popularity of the Lion Marks, they are exclusively associated with Lonsdale.
  • The mark of the applicant is visually similar to the Lion Marks and would therefore, lead to confusion and deception among the public as the mark of the applicant cannot distinguish between their goods and the goods of Lonsdale.
  • The public would assume from the mark of the applicant that Lonsdale has begun manufacturing new goods or has begun licensing/franchising to the applicant.
  • The applicant has no honest or concurrent use to justify the registration of their mark.
  • Applicant has falsely claimed proprietorship in their mark as they should have known about the Lion Marks which are very popular and widely used.
  • The registration of the applicant’s marks would be infringement of Section 11 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

The two Marks in question are copied below:

On September 29, 2016, DIPP filed its counter statement before the Registrar of Trade Marks, New Delhi. Their grounds of defense stands as follows –

  • The ‘Make in India’ logo was inspired by the rich religious and cultural heritage of India. The national emblem of India, the Ashok Lion Capital of Sarnath comprises of four lions and is mounted on an abacus which features the sculpture of a lion along with other animals. In ancient India, lion was used as a state symbol.
  • The logo of the Reserve Bank of India has a lion.
  • There are lots of postal stamps in India which feature a lion.
  • The ‘Make in India’ logo is widely recognized as an initiative of the Government of India and is popular nationally and internationally amongst the public and business community.
  • The logo has been publicized on every platform including in print and electronic media, social media, industry meets etc.
  • The launch of ‘Make in India’ in September 2014 led to a 44% increase in FDI equity inflows.
  • The ‘Make in India’ logo is distinctive of the applicant and its goods and services and the logo is not similar to the Lion marks. The ‘Make in India’ logo has a distinct portrayal of a forward marching lion which is made of gearwheels with ‘Make in India’ prominently written over it. This makes the trademark easily distinguishable from other marks including that of Lonsdale.
  • The Government of India has an unequalled reputation and goodwill all over the world in the field of economy, trade and business. Therefore, there is no question of any bad faith involved on part of the applicant.

It will be interesting to note further developments in this regard, especially in light of the fact that since its launch the initiative has really instilled a certain sense of confidence in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem and has India as a potential manufacturing hub in the eyes of the world. Make in India so far has had over 170 global and Indian manufacturers committing investments worth a total of $90 billion.

For the general information of our readers, find below a list of other Lion marks Registered in India –

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