The Delhi High Court on January 4, set aside the registration of ‘Swiss Military’ and the logo by a private company called Promoshirts SM. The HC has held that a red cross with white background and the words ‘Swiss Military’ serve as a source identifier for the goods of Swiss Origin for the public.
Armasuisse, an arm of the Swiss Government, had challenged the Deputy Registrar of Trademark’s orders which allowed the registration of the marks by Promoshirts SM. The high court, while allowing the appeal, clarified that a trademark registration must be seriously guarded, and any instance of a false trade description is not registrable. The inherent nature of a mark in itself is a relevant consideration under the Trademarks Act, 1999, concluding that the ‘Swiss Military’ mark ran afoul of that principle. The court noted that if backpacks bearing the words ‘INDIAN AIR FORCE’ were to be seen by persons outside India, they would presume a link with the Indian Air Force, whether the words were, or were not, accompanied by the official Indian Air Force insignia.
Considering that the company had applied for registration of the mark ‘Swiss Military’ along with the logo of the Swiss flag with a black background, the court held that any description of the country of manufacture of goods would be false and the inherent nature of the mark becomes deceptive.
The court, in relation to the label mark registered to Promoshirts containing the Swiss cross in black and white colours, held that once a mark is registered for all colours, it is accepted to be used for all colours, and hence, any limiting criteria of colour does not apply, thus making the registration bad. Hence, a mark with a red and white colour combination or black and white colour combination are ineligible for registration. The judgment was delivered by Justice C Hari Shankar.
Armasuisse was represented by Pravin Anand, Shrawan Chopra, Madhu Rewari, Vibhav Mithal, Shree Misra, and Achyut Tewari of Anand & Anand Advocates.
Speaking of the order, Pravin Anand, Managing Partner of Anand & Anand, said, “From filing of the appeal to pronouncement of the judgment, the matter was settled in just 35 days. This strengthens the faith in Intellectual Property.”