The Japan Patent Office (plaintiff) recently filed a lawsuit against 3 defendants: M/s. A2Z Glass & Glazing Co. & Ors., M/s Future Architectural Glass Fitting & M/s Future Overseas, seeking an injunction for the illegal use of its identical logo to manufacture and sell tools and kits. The present lawsuit highlights an ironic scenario in which an Indian company and its affiliated entities adopted the logo of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in an identical manner.
The Japan Patent Office (JPO), a governmental agency operating under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan, oversees Industrial Property Rights affairs within the country. With a notable presence in India and a strong reputation, the JPO has engaged in various initiatives, including the establishment of a Patent Prosecution Highway with India in 2019, making Japan the first country to do so with India. The plaintiff adopted its logo / JPO in 2011 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Japanese Industrial Property System in Japan. The primary contention by the plaintiff was that the defendants had blatantly copied the 'JPO' mark/logo for the manufacturing and sale of their products in India. Furthermore, the defendants also filed for trademark registration of the logo / JPO PLATINUM with identical colour combinations and have also embossed the said logo on their products.
The Delhi High Court stated that the defendant's adoption of the identical colour combination and logo from JPO was unquestionably a clear case of imitation. Emphasising the originality of JPO's logo as an artistic work entitled to copyright protection, the court underscored that Japan has been a WTO country since its creation. The court asserted that under Section 14 of the Copyright Act, JPO has exclusive rights to its logo.
Though the JPO doesn't have a registered trademark or copyright in its favour, the court highlighted that it's reasonable to assume the JPO didn’t anticipate such imitation, making the defendant's use of the logo a violation of the JPO's long-standing goodwill and brand equity. The court explicitly stated that the defendants provided no satisfactory explanation for adopting the identical logo, strengthening the argument for protecting the JPO's intellectual property rights. In the court's view, the defendants' use not only poses a risk of diluting the JPO's distinct identity but also constitutes a clear infringement of its copyright protection.
The court stated that the plaintiff had successfully established a prima facie case, justifying the grant of an ex parte injunction. Considering the balance of convenience and the plaintiff's enduring reputation and goodwill, the Delhi High Court has, in its legal decree, issued an injunction against the defendant companies. This judicial order explicitly restrains them from any further use of the logo 'JPO PLATINUM' or any other mark identical or similar to the JPO mark and logo concerning any products or services, effective immediately.
Delhi High Court’s Insightful Observation-
The Delhi High Court found the entire case rather ironic, comparing it to “a theft being committed in a police station” situation. The court pointed out that JPO (Japan Patent Office) is responsible for protecting and granting registrations to Intellectual Property owners, discovered that the defendants have illegally adopted its own mark/logo. Justice Pratibha M. Singh stated that the logo of JPO ought to be given copyright protection, considering it is an original artistic work. Consequently, the Delhi High Court issued a restraining order, prohibiting the defendants and their representatives from using the impugned JPO mark, JPO logo, the impugned word mark 'JPO PLATINUM,' or any similar mark in connection with products or services with immediate effect.