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THE RECENT AMUL-IMUL TRADEMARK CONTROVERSY

• Ichhamati Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited filed an application for registration of the mark ‘IMUL’ (depicted in a  triangular shape) (Application No. The opposition was based on the ground that the appellant was carrying on a well established business of manufacturing. 1281174) under class 29 (milk goods and other dairy products) of the Trademarks Act. . 1999. marketing and exporting milk products under the name AMUL since 1955. After the advertisement of this application. Kaida District Co-Operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (appellant) opposed registration of the trademark.

the respondent’s adoption of the mark IMUL would cause confusion among the public and in the trade as it was deceptively similar to the appellant’s trademark. Therefore.  .• By virtue of its long. continuous and extensive use of the trademark. it was contended that the public now associated ‘AMUL’ with the appellant’s products.

refusal of registration would cause unnecessary inconvenience and damage to the respondents. The decision was based on the fact that the respondent had been using this mark since 2001 and its turnover had increased continuously since then. however. According to the registrar. found that the respondent’s adoption of the mark IMUL was honest and was not deceptively similar.  .• The registrar.

The order of the IPAB (No. the respondents did not appear before the IPAB nor did they file counter statements. 34 of 2013) is available.• Against this order. Kolkata). the appellant appealed to the IPAB (Circuit Bench. Despite notice. The IPAB decided the matter in favour of AMUL ex parte. .

• After perusing several cases. . the IPAB held that a statement showing increase in sales turnover (by way of affidavit) was no ground to grant registration of a trademark that was deceptively similar to AMUL’s trademark. except for the first letter ‘A’ and ‘I’. It was held that the mark (IMUL) was phonetically similar to AMUL.

the order was set aside. Moreover. case law showed that AMUL had become a household name and the appellant had been successful. Also. in the past.• The IPAB used the test of “an unwary purchaser with average intelligence and imperfect recollection” to show that phonetically similar marks are likely to cause confusion among such purchasers. . in restraining others from using its registered trademark. Therefore. since the respondents did not appear before the IPAB to prove the use of the mark IMUL since 2001 and give reasons for adopting the same. the IPAB held that AMUL was a well known mark and the registration of a deceptively similar mark ought not to have been allowed.