Higher standards of probity expected from IP lawyers: Delhi High Court protects trademark of Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys

The Court restrained a Kolkata-based law firm from using the trademark of Chaudhri's IP firm.
Delhi High court and IPR
Delhi High court and IPR

The Delhi High Court recently restrained a Kolkata-based law firm from using a logo similar to that of Delhi-based Intellectual Property boutique firm Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys. (Sujata Chaudhri v. Swarupa Ghosh)

While granting an interim injunction in favour of the plaintiff law firm, Justice Prathiba M Singh observed,

"This Court is of the opinion that higher standards of probity would be expected, from lawyers and legal professionals especially IPR lawyers, inasmuch as there is a duty cast upon them to ensure that they do not imitate or adopt a name or logo which is already in existence or in use by another person or entity, offering similar services."

 Justice Prathiba M Singh
Justice Prathiba M Singh

Sujata Chaudhri, the proprietor and Managing Partner of Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys, had moved the High Court seeking a permanent injunction restraining trademark infringement, copyright infringement, and passing off against the defendant, Advocate Swarupa Ghosh.

Chaudhri had set up her firm in 2014. In mid-2022, she learned that the defendant had adopted a logo that was almost identical to her registered 'SC' device mark. Moreover, it was contended that the firm was offering identical services to those provided by her firm.

Counsel for the defendant, however, argued that 'SG' logo adopted by Ghosh was based on the Edwardian Script ITC font, which is openly available in the public domain, and thus, there cannot be any monopoly over it.

The Court went through LinkedIn messages shared between the two lawyers and noted that the defendant was aware of the plaintiff’s law firm and was promoting her services to the plaintiff, and not the other way around.

Owing to the deceptive similarity between the two logos, the Court was of the prima facie opinion that the plaintiff's firm had successfully made out a case for grant of interim injunction and that the balance of convenience lay in its favour.

"Moreover, irreparable injury would be caused to the Plaintiff if the interim injunction is not granted. Thus, the Defendant ought not to be permitted to use its logo, which is almost identical to the Plaintiff’s logo," the Court stated.

Thus, the Kolkata-based law firm was restrained from using a similar logo with effect from January 1, 2023.

However, the Court clarified that if the defendant law firm wished to adopt an alternative logo to amicably resolve the issue, it would be permitted to move an application before this Court to that extent.

The Court also issued summons to the defendant, Swarupa Ghosh, and sought a reply to the application within four weeks from the date of hearing.

The matter will be heard next on January 13, 2023.

Advocates Dushyant K Mahant and Jaskaran Singh appeared for Sujata Chaudhri, who was also present in person.

Advocates Rajeshwari H, Sugandh Shahi and Swapnil Gaur appeared for Swarupa Ghosh, who also appeared in person.

[Read order]

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