Report by Tannu Dahiya

The Delhi High Court on 6th February 2023 held a sadar bazar trader guilty of violating the restraining order by selling counterfeit products of the famous Louis Vuitton brand.

Facts:


Everyone desires to own luxury items like Prada, lv, etc. But these items are so costly that even the upper middle class can’t afford them. Traders take advantage of this situation and make duplicate branded products to deceive customers. The same happened in the present case. The famous LV brand has sued several small entities that manufactured and sold products under its name. The court in its decision has used the term counterfeit, to let us know its meaning. A counterfeit is an item which uses someone else’s trademark without their permission.


On 23rd September 2021, the court found the trader guilty and passed interlocutory orders to restrain them.
According to the order, the defendants were restrained from importing, selling, manufacturing, or dealing directly or indirectly with the lv-labelled goods.


The present appeal was filed by the plaintiff alleging that even after injunction orders, defendant 2 and defendant 3 have been selling products under the brand’s name. The application prayed that the defendant must be punished for this violation of the injunction.

Plaintiff’s contention:


Mr Anand, the learned counsel for the plaintiff claimed that defendant 2 has continued the business of selling belts of lv till September 2022. Opposing the request of the defendant party to take lenient action, he submits that counterfeiting has now become a social evil and the court must take strict action against it, as it has eroded the brand value which was built over the years. He said that leniency, in this case, would encourage others to commit this wrong.


Defendant 2 has also imitated other reputed brands. Mr Anand also stated that the court must consider this strictly as a breach of its order. He also wants the court to take action for counterfeiting other brands like Gucci, etc.
He urges that the punishment should be proportionate to the wrong. If it is the first time counterfeiting then strict action must be taken as it has become a habitual business for the defendant.


He also submitted a report to the civil justice council under the UK Civil Procedure Act 1997, titled ā€•Anti-social behaviour and the Civil Code to prove his points.


He also took the decisions made by Various learned single judges High Court of Bombay in Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. v. Curetech Skincare10 and decisions of the Federal Court of Singapore in Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Singga Enterprises11 and Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Lin Pi-Chu Yang12. He also relied on section 105 of the Trade Marks Act.

Defendant’s contention:


Mr Burender Bhatt, learned counsel for defendant 2, acknowledged the fact that his client has been selling the lv belt even after the injunction orders. He apologised for the breach and asked for leniency in the matter. He also argued that the court must not rely on sentencing practices in foreign jurisdictions while deciding on this case.


He said even Mr Anand has not pointed out any case in India where the court has relied on foreign practices. The action must be limited to the injunction which was granted by the court, and which has been breached by the defendant and it has no relation to counterfeiting of other brands. Mr Anand has failed to present any proof to show that the defendant has counterfeited any other brand. He also claimed that section 105 of the trade mark act is not applicable in the present case.


The cases presented by Mr Anand dealt with the damage being awarded while the decree was being passed. Thus they have no such relevance here. However, counterfeiting is a serious matter and the defendant has committed it even after the orders of the court. Mr Bhatt apologised for the same but it would hardly make any difference.


Judgement:


Justice C Hari Shankar expressed that the defendant is not entitled to any sympathy. The court added that there should be a message for all those who indulge or propose to indulge in the practice of counterfeiting. The defendant was directed to pay Rs. 5 Lakhs within four weeks. If failed to do so the proprietor of defendant 2 Javed Ansari shall be punished with a sentence in prison for 1 week in Tihar jail.

READ FULL JUDGEMENT: https://bit.ly/3JK2Zu3

CITATION: 2023/DHC/000810

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