As indicated by the Intellectual Property Appelate Board (IPAB) if a product’s name describes its quality it can be used as a trademark.
This was the case with the trademark ‘Bemisal’, which meanse matchless in Hindi. A Delphi based company uses that trademark for their rice brand. Nevertheless, the IPAB also mentioned that a product name which only denotes a product cannot be regarded as a trademark. In example, if a company sells apples they can trademark the word ‘delicious’ because it relates to the quality of the product. However, they cannot trademark the word ‘apple’, because it only refers to the product. In addition, the IPAB also indicated that whether the product stands up to its name or not could only be decided by the market itself.
The Delphi based company, KBRL Ltd., began selling rice in 1981 under the name ‘Bemisal’. They filed a case with the Delhi courts indicating that the company PK Overseas Private Limited was using a trademark which was "phonetically and visually identical and deceptively similar" to KBRL Ltd’s trademark, ‘Bemisal’. In 2010, on July 6th, the Delhi court restrained PK Overseas Private Limited from using the trademark , but PK appealed to the decision. They stated that the word ‘Bemisal’ could not be used as a trademark for the reason that it could only indicate the kind and quality of goods. PK was indicating that the trademark was not distinctive meaning that exclusive rights could not be claimed by KBRL Ltd.
In reference to the appeal by PK, the IPAB pointed out that Section 32 of the Trademark Act "protects the registration on the ground of distinctiveness in certain cases." The IPAB stated that KBRL Ltd. had since 1999 domestic sales of more than 69 crore, which is equivalent to approx. 690 million units. In addition to the domestic sales the company was also exporting rice to several other countries in the Middle-East and in New Zealand, and Canada.
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