Pepsico gets relief in AQUAFINA trademark case
We live in an era when water is slowly becoming a commodity. Those days are not too far when water will no longer be freely and easily accessible or available. There are numerous brands under which bottled water is being sold in the marketplace, and for the most part, most of them adapt similar colour combination and texts on their labels and the labels printed on them bear similarities. Among thousands of small companies, sizable players are Coca Cola and Pespisco, and AQUAFINA is the registered trademark of PEPSICO. Small time proprietors are increasingly become ignorant of business ethics, laws and statutory compliance, and are willing to take significantly high risks for petty profits.
AQUAFINA Vs AQUA FIES Permanent Injunction and Rs. 5 Lakh damages
For a common man it may seem surprising that AQUAFIES is deceptive similar to AQUAFINA. In a trademark case, Pepsico, Inc & Anr vs. PSI Ganesh Marketing & Anr, involving the registered trademark AQUAFINA owned by Pepsico, The Delhi High Court has ruled in favour of PepsiCo. Justice G.S Sistani who delivered the judgment in the case restrained the defendant company from infringing upon the trademark of a reputed brand and for mischievously adopting and using deceptively similar trademark, AQUA FIES, by way of a permanent injunction and damages. The court also ordered for damages to the tune of Rs. 5 Lakh payable by the infringing company to Pepsico.
Grant of Damages
Courts are in general quite hesitant to grant significantly higher damages unless it involves a well-known brand, and seldom granted for smaller business entities. Factors considered while granting damages are, inter alia, capacity of defendant company, profits made by the defendant/infringer company by use of infringing trademark. Even in this case, the damages of Rs. 5 Lakhs is in fact significantly less when compared to the turnover of PEPSICO involving “AQUAFINA” which was reportedly 650 crores in 2013. Damages if granted at a significantly large amount will act as a deterrent factor and companies will not take a chance. Many infringers are blatantly ignorant and continue to run their business until slapped with a serious law suit; and conveniently close down their business and start another.