Title: Mankind Pharma Limited v. Novakind Bio Sciences Private Limited
Ordered on: 7th August, 2023
+ CS(COMM) 188/2021, I.A. 5700/2021 & I.A. 3248/2023
CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE C.HARI SHANKAR
The Delhi High Court recently addressed a trademark dispute between Mankind Pharma Limited and Novakind Bio Sciences Private Limited. The case centered around the use of the common suffix “KIND” in their respective trademarks. The Court emphasized the need for clear distinction between pharmaceutical products to avoid confusion among healthcare professionals and consumers.
Mankind Pharma Limited, a significant player in the Indian pharmaceutical industry, adopted the trademark “MANKIND” as part of its trading style in 1986. The company used the suffix “KIND” in the names of various pharmaceutical preparations it manufactured and sold. Mankind Pharma raised concerns over Novakind Bio Sciences Private Limited’s use of the mark “NOVAKIND” for its pharmaceutical products. Mankind Pharma believed that the inclusion of “KIND” in Novakind’s mark infringed upon its registered trademark. Mankind Pharma issued a cease-and-desist notice to Novakind, urging it to stop using the contested mark.
Analysis and Held
In this case, a Single Bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar presided over the matter. The Court acknowledged that while physicians and chemists might prefer Mankind Pharma’s products due to their efficacy, the common “KIND” suffix could lead to confusion. The Court highlighted that even the slightest possibility of confusion is unacceptable when it comes to medicines, especially prescription drugs.
The Court noted that the use of the “KIND” suffix is not unique to pharmaceutical preparations. Consequently, customers with average intelligence and imperfect recollection could associate Novakind’s “NOVAKIND” product with the KIND family of marks owned by Mankind Pharma. This likelihood of association satisfied the legal requirement for infringement under Section 29(2)(b)10 of the Trade Marks Act. Both marks were found to be deceptively similar and used for identical goods, supporting the finding of trademark infringement.
The Court also underscored that lower-income individuals who rely on less expensive medical services might be susceptible to associating medicines with their manufacturers. Given the varying efficacy of the same drug produced by different companies, the Court emphasized the importance of distinct trademarks to prevent confusion and potential health risks.
In conclusion, the Delhi High Court ruled that the trademarks of Mankind Pharma and Novakind Bio Sciences were deceptively similar. The Court upheld Mankind Pharma’s concerns regarding potential confusion among healthcare professionals and consumers, leading to its holding against Novakind’s use of the contested mark.
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Written by- Ankit Kaushik