Delhi High Court: In a suit filed seeking permanent injunction restraining trademark infringement, copyright infringement and passing off against Ms. Swarupa Ghosh (‘Defendant’), an IP lawyer by Sujata Chaudhri (‘Plaintiff’) who is the proprietor and managing partner of Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys for having deceptively similar marks, Prathiba Singh, J., granted interim injunction and restrained the defendants from using the impugned SG logo with effect from 01-01-2023.
The case of the Plaintiff is that she is an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) lawyer running a boutique IP law firm Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys since 2014. The Plaintiff adopted a distinctive SC Device Mark which is used either alone or in conjunction with the words SUJATA CHAUDHRI IP ATTORNEYS (‘Plaintiff’s logos’). The said device mark along with words SUJATA CHAUDHRI IP ATTORNEYS was registered by the Plaintiff in respect of legal services including intellectual property consultancy, litigation, legal research, licensing; advisory and consultancy services relating to law, including intellectual property law.
However, the plaintiff learnt that the Defendant had adopted an almost identical logo for her law chamber – Swarupa Ghosh Law Chamber offering legal advisory services, particularly in the area of Intellectual Property Law which is identical to the services provided by the Plaintiff. The said logo contains an SG Device mark along with the words SWARUPA GHOSH LAW CHAMBER (‘Defendant’s logos’).
The Court noted that the first and foremost feature of this case is that both the parties are IPR lawyers who offer almost identical services to their clients. The names Sujata Chaudhri and Swarupa Ghosh are not similar however, a comparison of the Plaintiff’s and the Defendant’s logos shows that they are almost identical, and it is impossible to even decipher the differences between the two and the only issue in this matter relates to the artistic way in which the name of the Defendant’s law firm and the SG device mark is written in the Defendant’s logo.
The Court remarked that that the mere fact that the font may be an openly available font does not mean that the same very font has to be used by the Defendant, from amongst the thousands of font options that are available.
The Court further opined that higher standards of probity would be expected from lawyers and legal professionals especially IPR lawyers, inasmuch as there is a duty cast upon them to ensure that they do not imitate or adopt a name or logo which is already in existence or in use by another person or entity, offering similar services.
Thus, the Court held that the Plaintiff has made out a prima facie case for the grant of interim injunction and that the balance of convenience lies in its favour. Moreover, irreparable injury would be caused to the Plaintiff if the interim injunction is not granted. Thus, the Defendant ought not to be permitted to use its logo, which is almost identical to the Plaintiff’s logo.
The Court further left it open to the defendants to adopt any alternative logo subject to amicable resolution.
[Sujata Chaudhari v. Swarupa Ghosh, CS (Comm) 732 of 2022, decided on 19-10-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Dushyant K. Mahant, and Mr. Jaskaran Singh, Advocates with Plaintiff in Person;
Ms. Rajeshwari H., Ms. Sugandh Shahi and Ms. Swapnil Gaur, Advocate with Defendant in Person.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.