Delhi HC restrains Andhra-based company from marketing seeds of other producers under Kohinoor Seed Fields trademarks

The Delhi High Court recently granted Veda Seed Sciences, an Andhra-based company four weeks time to file a response to the suit filed by Kohinoor Seed Fields India Private Limited on the former promoting or selling any product, other than the BT cotton hybrid seeds under the latter’s trademarks or any marks deceptively similar to them.

In 2014, the plaintiff entered into a non-exclusive co-marketing agreement with the defendant for the purposes of marking and distributing the hybrid seed varieties. The defendant, under the contract, had agreed to not sell any other hybrid seeds under the brand names permitted under the agreement.

In October 2022, the plaintiff figured out that the defendant was promoting and taking advance bookings for the Kharif season 2023 for the sale of cotton hybrid seeds under the names of ‘Veda Sadanand Gold’ ‘Veda Tadaakha Gold’ and ‘Veda Basant Gold’ to market the seeds which do not belong to the plaintiff.

Following which, the plaintiff issued a termination notice under the agreement with a 15 days’ period to rectify and remedy the breach.

Kohinoor Seed Fields India Pvt. Ltd. obtained necessary approvals from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for developing/producing and selling transgenic BT Cotton hybrid seeds under its trademark ‘Sadanand’, ‘Tadaakha’, and ‘Basant’.

Justice Amit Bansal passed the interim order after hearing a suit filed by Kohinoor Seed Fields, a leading Indian seed company.

Justice Amit Bansal said, “The advance bookings taken by the defendant under the impugned marks are in respect of different hybrids, being GK-224 BGII, VSCH-369 BGII, and GK-238 BG II, which do not belong to the plaintiff and hence, on a prima facie view, violate the terms of the aforesaid agreement.”

The impugned marks of the defendant were registered in August 2021.

“Use of the impugned marks for goods in the same class by the defendants, prima facie, also amounts to infringement as well as passing off. Moreover, the packaging and aesthetic of the defendant’s products are deceptively identical to that of the plaintiffs,” Justice Bansal added.

The court said that even if the defendant uses the plaintiff’s marks with or without any prefix or suffix for different hybrid seeds, it would not result in a material difference and make any difference in the marks.

Moreover, the court added that it is clear that the plaintiff is a prior user of the trademarks and has established a reputation and goodwill for its products in the target market.

“In view of the above, the balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff. Irreparable harm and injury would be caused to the plaintiff if an ex-parte injunction is not granted in favour of the plaintiff,” the court said.

The court restrained the defendant from “making, using, promoting, marketing, advertising, offering or exposing for sale, selling any product other than plaintiffs BT cotton hybrid seeds under the plaintiffs’ trademarks, being ‘Sadanand’, ‘Tadaakha’, and ‘Basant’, with or without prefix or suffix or any other mark, which is deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s trademarks” till the next date of hearing.

The bench listed the matter before the Joint Registrar on January 10, 2023, for the completion of pleadings and for the next hearing on February 6, 2023.

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