Patanjali’s Costly Ignorance

Recently Patanjali launched immunity booster tablets by the name of ‘Coronil’ and came under fire when the proprietor of ‘CORONIL-92B’ and ‘CORONIL-213SPL’, registered under class 1 for industrial cleaners, sued the brand for using an already registered trademark.

The plaintiff’s concern was a tarnished image of its brand especially looking at the inefficiency of the products by Patanjali. The Madras High Court with its judgment on the case restored faith in the times of coronavirus when hearings are taking place via video conferencing. The decision was radical on two grounds. One, it involved an interpretation of the Trade Mark Act, section 29(4). And second, the befitting redirection of the defendant’s penalty money to organizations that are helping during COVID-19.

The court’s anger stems from the exploitation of the public’s panic and fear during the times of a pandemic to generate profits. The claims of ‘Coronil’ to fight the virus were deemed untrue by the court. It further added that the defendants could have used an alternate name instead of capitalizing on a global crisis. Due to these reasons, Patanjali held no case.

Moreover, the court found that the name ‘Coronil’ was an infringement of the existing brand which is well known in India and around the globe. Being associated with the immunity tablets would have been detrimental to the trademark. The defendant was justly reprimanded for not having carried a simple check with the Trade Mark Registry. Not having done that, Patanjali ran the risk of carrying the reputation of ‘CORONIL’ to the ground. This becomes a flagrant case of ignorance to which the court refused indulgence.

Viewing the boastful arguments of the 10,000 crore company, the Madras High Court reminded them that in contrast to their simple boosters for cough and fever are people who are genuinely helping the needy in such critical times without any recognition. It was considered fit to charge the company so as to aide such selfless organizations. Thus, the company is to jointly pay Rs. 5 lakhs to Dean, Adyar Cancer Industries (WIA) East Canal Bank Road, Adyar, Chennai, and another Rs. 5 lakhs to Dean, Government Yoga, and Naturopathy Medical College and hospital, Arumbakhan, Chennai, 106.

Such decisions help in fighting blatant disregard of big companies for the smaller ones. The Madras High Court’s decision taken out of the court sets a niche example of the lucid and elaborate judicial process. The lesson learned is that a simple check with the registry of Trademarks could save a lot of trouble too many people and ignorance isn’t bliss.

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