IPR Newsletter: TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT IN AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY-March 2022
In the last decade, the automotive industry has witnessed a drastic evolution. Technological developments have led to innovations which need proper protection. The effective protection of intellectual property rights is key to successful business strategy and development. Automotive companies need to constantly review their trademark portfolios to ensure that relevant goods and services cover their key marks.
FACTS OF THE TATA MOTORS TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT CASE
Tata Motors approached the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, (Delhi High Court) complaining of some unknown persons engaged in the business of manufacturing, trading, distributing, storing and selling counterfeit and spurious products under the trademark of ‘Tata Motors’.
Tata Motors informed the Court that it manufactured and sold automobiles with other related products and had a long standing reputation in the market. In this light, the sale of such counterfeit and spurious products would cause a lot of damage to the goodwill of ‘Tata Motors’.
Tata Motors said that the complaint had been filed keeping in mind the interest of the general public who were being cheated into purchasing counterfeit products from the accused, who deceived customers into believing that the product being bought was that of ‘Tata Motors’. The consumers expect the products of Tata Motors to be of a certain standard and quality. The purpose of selling the goods/services under a particular trademark is to help consumers identify the good’s source, trust the goods to be of a certain quality. This deception was impacting the company’s brand image and causing wrongful loss to the company. The complaint sought direction to DCP (District Investigation Unit) Central District to take into custody and produce any person privy to production, storage or sale of any such objectionable article. The Court on hearing the case directed the investigating officer to appear in person with evidences along with the investigation file of the said case. A representative of the Tata Company was quoted as saying that although this case would not stop counterfeiters, it would serve as a warning to counterfeiters to not target the brand.
Counterfeiting In Indian Automobile Industry
Researches, in a study commissioned by FICCI’s Committee against Smuggling & Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), have recognised that the automobile industry in India is most susceptible when it comes to counterfeiting. The study demonstrated that around 30% of the automobile parts market in India is counterfeited. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has played an essential role in providing vital protection to IP owners against such counterfeits. Section 102, 103 & 135 of the Trademarks Act, 1999 provides for the remedies that are available to Trademark owners against cases of counterfeiting. One should know about the other preventive measures that that brand holder can accept, comprising customer awareness & proactive enforcement of their Trademark Rights through criminal raids and recording their Trademarks with the Indian Customs Authority for supervising. “The Government of India herein can play an essential role by employing industry-specific remedies, like introducing certifications for automotive parts and spare parts, introducing legislation to increase customer protection on e-commerce websites, and providing strict penalties that can restrict such counterfeits”.
Importance of Trademark in Automobile Industry
A Trademark can be defined as anything that aids in recognising and differentiating the products or services provided by a company or entity from its competitors. So, Trademarks in Indian Automobile Sector helps to differentiate the product of one automobile company from others. Owning Trademarks allows automobile companies to prevent their opponents in Indian Automobile Sector from using identical or confusingly identical Trademarks. By enabling automobile companies to distinguish themselves and their products from those of their competitors, Trademarks plays an essential role in the market strategies of such automobile companies, contributing to the meaning of the reputation & image of the company and the products that it gives in the eyes of possible customers. Trademarks in Indian Automobile Industry helps in selling & advertising their products, resulting in serving the economy in a general logic by helping in streamlining the commercialisation of products. Hence, without any doubt, Trademarks in Indian Automobile Industry plays an essential role and helps to boost the country’s economy.
“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind”, a quote by Walter Landor elucidates the imminent association of trademarks and the automobile sector. In the 21st century, when automobiles represent much more than what a machine does, automotive giants rely immensely on their image and reputation amongst consumers. With the dynamic changes in the field of branding and marketing, it can be safely concluded that trademarks play an extremely significant role in facilitating the consumer consortium with automobile brands.