Monday, April 4, 2011

HC dismisses trademark suit ,Generic Words Like Matrix Can’t Get Protection

Ahmedabad: A telecom firm’s appeal, claiming that its trade mark was infringed upon, was turned down by the Gujarat high court on the ground that a generic word is not eligible for trademark protection.

Two companies dealing in telecom business Matrix Telecom Pvt Ltd and Matrix Cellular Services Pvt Ltd  have been fighting a legal battle over the right to use the word ‘Matrix’. Matrix Telecom approached a lower court demanding that it had been using the word since 1991. Matrix Telecom wanted Matrix Cellular to stop using the word because it created confusion in the market. Besides seeking restriction on usage of the title, the company also wanted the other company to immediately stop its website, as that too contains the word ‘Matrix’.

However, a civil court in Vadodara refused to entertain the plea of interim injunction. This led Matrix Telecom to approach the high court, where it presented its case. During the proceeding, it was revealed that both companies have been opposing trademark rights over the word since 2005, when they applied for registration of the trademark.

Matrix Telecom is engaged in manufacturing and trading of digital EPABX systems, telephone instruments, voice messaging products, public address systems, etc, whereas Matrix Cellular Services was engaged in different services. The high court observed, “The product of appellant has different characteristics; therefore, there cannot be any possibility of confusion between the products of both companies. There is nothing on record to show that the respondent company is indulging in passing off its services as the goods of the plaintiff.”

The high court examined the meaning of matrix in different dictionaries and concluded, “There is no dispute that the word is a common word with various meanings in different fields, including intercellular substance. It is a settled law that when trademark is common or descriptive, it is not eligible for trademark protection. This word is not a coined word, but a generic word.”

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