Delhi High Court: In a case wherein Plaintiff 1, DLF Ltd. was in the business of real estate projects and objected to the defendants’ use of the word mark ‘GLF’ with an inverted triangle for real estate project in Gurugram, Haryana, Prathiba M. Singh, J., opined that owing to the extensive and long usage of the mark ‘DLF’ especially in the Delhi-Gurugram area, the use of the mark ‘GLF’ by the defendants was bound to result in confusion and deception and it would also be violative of the plaintiff’s trade mark rights in the mark ‘DLF’. Thus, the Court directed the defendants to immediately cease any further putting up of billboards or promotional activities or any other promotional material under the mark/name ‘GLF’.
The plaintiff served as the holding and flagship company of the DLF Group and the mark and name ‘DLF’ was coined without a natural meaning in English and the mark ‘DLF’ was a registered trade mark along with triangle device . The mark ‘DLF’ had also been registered for several years, with the earliest registration dating back to 1996 in various classes, including 36, 2, 19, 23, 16, 35, 37 and 20. It was stated that the mark ‘DLF’ had achieved the status of a “well-known” mark.
The grievance in the present suit was that Defendant 2 had incorporated Defendant 1, Gurugram Land and Finance Ltd. and had also started using the mark ‘GLF’ and the inverted triangle since the last few months. The plaintiff’s submitted that it acquired knowledge of the defendants’ use of the mark ‘GLF’ only in August 2023 when they came across hoardings on National Highway 48 in the Delhi-Gurugram Highway bearing the defendants’ mark/name ‘GLF’. It was revealed that the defendants had also filed a trade mark application for the mark ‘GLF’ on 13-06-2023 on a proposed to be used basis and had also started promoting the mark ‘GLF’ on their social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Comparative table of the plaintiff’s mark ‘DLF’ and the defendants’ mark ‘GLF’
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court noted that on online platforms like 99acres.com, when the defendants’ project was entered and searched, the plaintiff’s projects ‘DLF GARDEN CITY ENCLAVE’ and ‘DLF ALAMEDA’ in Gurugram were shown as similar and related projects. The Court further noted that the defendants’ project in Gurugram, Haryana, registered with the Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority (‘HRERA’) was named ‘Palm Meadows’, under ‘Gurugram Land and Finance (P) Ltd.’.
The Court observed that the date of assignment of the mark/name ‘GLF’ between the registered proprietor who was said to be based in Pune, Maharashtra, and the defendants, was 31-05-2023 and it was also not clear whether the said registration had ever been used or not by the registered proprietor. The Court noted that the hoardings erected by the defendants showed that, clearly, the emphasis was on the mark ‘GLF’, and the name of the project did not even feature on the billboard/hoardings.
The Court opined that owing to the extensive and long usage of the mark ‘DLF’ especially in the Delhi-Gurugram area, the use of the mark ‘GLF’ by the defendants was bound to result in confusion and deception and it would also be violative of the plaintiff’s trade mark rights in the mark ‘DLF’ that had been registered since 2000. The Court further opined that the defendants were a recent adopter of the mark ‘GLF’ as of June 2023 and the billboards also appear to have come up very recently. The Court noted that the defendants were willing to change the name ‘GLF’ to ‘GLAF’ which was their earlier name and the name ‘GLAF’ was also included in their domain name ‘glaf.in’ in the defendants’ HRERA registration.
The Court issued the following directions:
The defendants shall immediately cease any further putting up of billboards or promotional activities or any other promotional material under the mark/name ‘GLF’;
Any of the billboards/sign boards erected by the defendants within DLF City, Gurugram shall be taken down and in respect of the other existing hoardings and billboards, the defendants were given one month’s time to modify or change the same;
No booking amount shall be accepted by the defendants under the name/mark ‘GLF’;
Insofar as the use of the name/mark ‘GLAF’ or any other alternate name/mark was concerned, the parties were referred to mediation, so that they could agree upon an alternate name that the defendants could use;
The domain name/website ‘theglf.in’ shall not be used with immediate effect and any re-directing of the same to any other website of the defendant shall also be ceased.
The Court directed the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre to appoint a senior Mediator in the present case.
The matter would next be listed on 09-10-2023.
[DLF Ltd. v. Gurugram Land and Finance (GLF) (P) Ltd., 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5944, Order dated 15-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Plaintiff: Pravin Anand, Shrawan Chopra, Achyut Tewari, Advocates with Manish Kumar, Representative of Plaintiff
For the Defendants: Neeraj Grover, Sunidhi Gupta, Ayushi Chandra, Advocates