Monsanto succeeds in Trade Mark infringement case for its cucumber seeds

March 3, 2018
Delhi High Court over an issue

Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd recently took M/s Real Agro Seeds to the Delhi High Court over an issue where the Defendants were alleged to be causing trademark infringement and passing off their goods as those of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff in this instance filed for a permanent injunction to restrain the Defendants from manufacturing or selling a variety of high yielding hybrid of cucumber seeds called “Malini”, which yield four to five times more fruit than other varieties and sell at premium prices in the market.

Plaintiff’s Case:

The Plaintiff acquired the rights over the trade mark “Malini” after their merger with Seminis Vegetable Seed (India) Pvt. Ltd., who was the first adopter of the mark and pioneer of the seed in 2001. The trademark/label in question was registered under the former company in 2006 in class 31 under the Trade Marks Act, 1999, which the Plaintiff acquired subsequently after merging with the aforesaid company vide an order passed by the Bombay High Court on July 18, 2017.

The Plaintiff claims to have undertaken extensive promotional activities, social events and workshops in order to raise awareness about the benefits of “Malini” branded seeds amongst farmers and agricultural traders. Hence the trademark “Malini” and its packaging and trade dress are unique to the product distributed by the Plaintiff and is thus identified with the Plaintiff alone. The Defendant is stated to be engaged in manufacture and sale of hybrid cucumber seeds under the mark “Malini” which has an identical and/or deceptively similar product label, packaging and get up.

Court’s Decision:

On a comparison of both rival products and their labels, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on October 30.2017 held that the Defendants have attempted to deliberately confuse and deceive consumers with an imperfect recollection, leading them to believe that the Defendants’ goods are related to, or are those of the Plaintiff’s.

In view thereof, the Court passed an order in the suit in favor of the Plaintiff, however did not award damages as they had not been quantified in its Plaint.

The Plaintiff and Defendant No. 1 had filed a joint compromise application under Order 23 Rule 3 read with Section 151 CPC and the matter is now referred to the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Center on direction of the Hon’ble Court.

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