• Sit Dolor Amet
AMUL VS IMUL TRADEMARK CASE STUDY
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or
services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights. The
symbols ™ (the trademark symbol) and ® (the registered
trademark symbol) can be used to indicate trademarks; the
latter is only for use by the owner of a trademark that has been
TRADEMARKS ACT ,1999
• The Trade Marks Registry was established in India in 1940 and presently it
administers the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the rules there under.
• It acts as a resource and information center and is a facilitator in matters relating to
trade marks in the country.
• The objective of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 is to register trade marks applied for in
the country and to provide for better protection of trade mark for goods and services
and also to prevent fraudulent use of the mark.
• The main function of the Registry is to register trade marks which qualifies for
registration under the Act and Rules.
USAGE OF TRADEMARK
• A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular
product or service.
• The owner of a trademark may pursue legal
action against trademark infringement. Most countries
require formal trademark registration as a precondition
for pursuing this type of action. The United States,
Canada, and other countries also recognize common
law trademark rights, which means action can be
taken to protect any unregistered trademark if it is in
use. Still, common law trademarks offer to the holder,
in general, less legal protection than registered
• Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a
trademark or service mark on or in connection with
goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to
cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the
source of the goods and/or services.
• Amul is an Indian dairy cooperative society, based at Anand in Gujarat . Formed in 1946, it is a
cooperative brand managed by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF),
which today is jointly controlled by 36 lakh(3.6 million) milk producers in Gujarat, and the apex body of
13 district milk unions, spread across 13,000 villages of Gujarat. Amul spurred India’s White
Revolution, which made the country the world's largest producer of milk and milk products.
• Kaira Union introduced the brand “Amul” for marketing its product range. The word “Amul” is derived
from Sanskrit word ‘Amulya’ which means ‘priceless’ or precious, a name proposed by then founding
leader of Agriculture College, Maganbhai Patel.
• The Amul model : The Amul model of dairy development is a three -tiered structure with the dairy
cooperative societies at the village level federated under a milk Union at the district level and a
Federation of member Union at the state level.
IMUL - A milk producer’s co-operative union in West Bengal, which
sought to market a brand of milk.
• ‘Ichhamati Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (IMUL) filed an application for registration of the mark ‘IMUL’ (depicted
in a triangular shape) (Application No. 1281174) under class 29 (milk goods and other dairy products) of the Trademarks Act,
• After the advertisement of this application, Kaira District Co-Operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (appellant) opposed
registration of the trademark.
• The opposition was based on the ground that the appellant was carrying on a well established business of manufacturing,
marketing and exporting milk products under the name AMUL since 1955.
APPELLANT – AMUL
By virtue of its long, continuous and extensive use of the trademark, it was contended that
the public now associated ‘AMUL’ with the appellant’s products. Therefore, the respondent’s
adoption of the mark IMUL would cause confusion among the public and in the trade as it
was deceptively similar to the appellant’s trademark.
The registrar, however, found that the respondent’s adoption of the mark IMUL was honest
and was not deceptively similar.
The decision was based on the fact that the respondent had been using this mark since 2001
and its turnover had increased continuously since then.
According to the registrar, refusal of registration would cause unnecessary inconvenience and
damage to the respondents.
After perusing several cases, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board , IPAB held that a
statement showing increase in sales turnover (by way of affidavit) was no ground to grant
registration of a trademark that was deceptively similar to AMUL’s trademark.
It was held that the mark (IMUL) was phonetically similar to AMUL, except for the first letter ‘A’
Against this order, the appellant appealed to IPAB (Circuit Bench, Kolkata).
Despite notice, the respondents did not appear before the IPAB nor did they file counter
The IPAB decided the matter in favour of AMUL ex parte. The order of the IPAB (No. 34 of 2013)
The IPAB used the test of “an unwary purchaser with average intelligence and imperfect recollection”
to show that phonetically similar marks are likely to cause confusion among such purchasers.
Moreover, case law showed that AMUL had become a household name and the appellant had been
successful, in the past, in restraining others from using its registered trademark.
The board comprising Vice-Chairman S. Usha and member V. Ravi said: “The marks are no doubt
phonetically similar, except for first letters a and i . When we consider the marks to be deceptively
similar, the possibility of confusion is certain. The trademark, therefore, shall not proceed to
Also, since the respondents did not appear before the IPAB to prove the use of the mark IMUL since
2001 and give reasons for adopting the same, the IPAB held that AMUL was a well known mark and
the registration of a deceptively similar mark ought not to have been allowed. Therefore, the order
was set aside.
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