The Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) approached the Delhi High Court this July seeking permanent injunction, costs and damages against an entity called ‘Khadi by Heritage’ who was selling PPE kits, hand sanitizers and fireballs under the mark ‘Khadi by Heritage’. The said entity was also using the ‘Charkha logos’ of KVIC on its products.
KVIC, a statutory body established by the Act of Parliament, had asserted its proprietorship over its renowned trademark ‘KHADI’ as well as ‘Charkha’ logo which are registered under several classes of the Trademarks Act in its favour.
KVIC, represented by Ms. Shwetasree Majumder and her team at Fidus Law Chambers, successfully demonstrated the long-standing use of the KHADI trademarks and ‘Charkha Logo’, their registrations in India and overseas, the voluminous business turnover in the domestic and export market, the reputation of the brand, and the large number of injunction orders passed in KVIC’s favour by the Delhi High Court in lawsuits as also by panelists of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Indian National Internet Exchange of India in domain name disputes.
Justice Prathiba Singh of the Delhi High Court, in a judgement dated 26th July 2022, held that the trademark Khadi along with the Charkha logo are well-known trademarks. The Court also noted that the use of the trademark ‘KHADI’ in this manner, especially in relation to medical products raises enormous concerns in respect of the quality of these products apart from constituting violations of KVIC’s rights. The Court directed the Domain Name Registrars with whom the Defendants’ domains were registered, to transfer them to KVIC within one week. In an unconventional twist, the Court also directed the Indian Trademark Registry to suo moto reject all trademark applications filed by Khadi by Heritage, in light of this order. The Court directed that the appropriate orders to this effect shall be updated on the Trademark Registry portal within four weeks.
The Court went on to hold that the entity has misused the mark ‘KHADI’ only to promote their products through its websites and other online listings and such misuse of KVIC’s mark cannot be condoned as the mark, name and the logo, have been identically used by the entity. Recognizing the rights of KVIC, damages of Rs.10 lakhs and costs of Rs.2 lakhs were also awarded in favour of KVIC by the Court.
On the same day, in another matter filed by KVIC against an entity called KDCI or Khadi Design Council of India, which has been organizing pageants called Miss and Mrs. India Khadi, the court passed an order reiterating that the Khadi trademark and Charkha logos are well known and cannot be misused. Taking strict note of the acts of KDCI’s founder Ankush Anami, the court issued a show cause notice for contempt against him, with the observation that the material produced by Counsel for KVIC prima facie shows that despite an injunction order passed against him, the Defendant is corresponding with Ministries, State governments, using the Khadi trademarks.
Commenting on these developments, the KVIC Chairman Shri Manoj Kumar remarked, “We are delighted at the strong message sent out by the Delhi High Court to those who are misusing the Khadi trademark. This is a valuable brand, and we will not sit by and let unscrupulous third parties monetise it. The declaration of the Khadi trademark as a well-known trademark is a matter of great pride for us.”