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KMF wins legal battle over Nandini trademark

KMF wins legal battle over Nandini trademark
Nandini legallybelongs to the Karnataka Cooperative-Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd (KMF). Yes, the trademark Nandini, under which the KMF sells its products, cannot be used by others as the High Court of Karnataka has refused to allow a leading restaurant group to use “Nandhini” as its brand name.

“When Nandini has acquired a distinctive character and has become well-known, the use of another mark with only an alphabet difference would very likely cause confusion in the mind of the public,” the High Court ruled.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice Budihal R.B., passed the order while dismissing the petitions filed by M/s Nandhini Deluxe, a group of restaurants which came into existence in 1989.

The petitioner had questioned the orders passed by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), which had ordered in favour of the KMF.

The Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks in 2009 had refused to accept the KMF’s opposition for allowing the restaurant group to use “Nandhini” as trademark for its products listed under Classes 29 and 30 of the Trade Marks Rules, 2002.

The Deputy Registrar had refused to accept the KMF’s claims over Nandini based on a copyright certificate secured in 1992 and had allowed the restaurant group to use “Nandhini” as trademark for its products on the basis that the design and letters were different.

However, the IPAB had held that the KMF was using Nandini consistently and it had become entrenched in the minds of the consumers and that there was no evidence to establish that the restaurant group was trading foodstuff under this name. The IPAB had also said that the restaurant group cannot be allowed to use “Nandhini” as it would confuse the average consumer about the products of the two entities.

While upholding the IPAB’s decision, the High Court also refused to accept the petitioner’s claim that the KMF uses “Nandini” only for milk and milk products and that it would not confuse the consumer.

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