27 Oct 2009

Counterfeit RAY BAN sun-glasses: High Court grants interim order

Irked with the rampant misuse and dilution of branded sun-glasses happening in the National Capital, the Delhi High Court has passed stringent directions to check the dilution of the branded goods. The case, brought about by Luxottica of Italy, argued that it had been carrying on the business of selling sunglasses and prescription frames under the trademark RAY BAN and since  1971 its only business has been the manufacture and sale of finished eyeglass frames. It was also put forth by the company that "RAY BAN has come about to mean sunglasses with style and flair and is recognized as the leading brand in quality, function and fashion area". 

The reason for approaching the courts, it was stated by Luxottica, was the "rampant proliferation of spurious and counterfeit RAY BAN sunglasses at the behest of a class of traders that habitually seeks to avoid identification". The company argued that in the last week of August 2009 it employed two investigators to ascertain whether the counterfeit sunglasses bearing the "mark of RAY BAN were being sold in New Delhi. The investigators obtained samples of counterfeit RAY BAN sunglasses from the premises of Defendants and also informed the Plaintiffs about the rampant acts of counterfeiting of sunglasses bearing the Plaintiffs' trademark RAY BAN in the adjoining areas." These traders, it was alleged, were engaged in the "act of manufacturing or importing or selling or offering for sale counterfeit RAY BAN branded sunglasses amounts to passing off the said products as the Plaintiffs' genuine RAY BAN sunglasses." 

On these allegations, it was submitted before the High Court that the company was "suffering or likely to suffer loss of business, sales, loss of reputation, loss of image or loss of trust of their clients who are patrons of genuine RAY BAN products" and thus prayed for relief. In these circumstances, the High Court noted that it appeared to it that "Plaintiffs have made out a prima facie case for grant of an ad interim ex parte injunction as prayed for. This Court is also of the view that the balance of convenience in granting such interim relief at the present stage is in favour of the Plaintiffs." 

Not stopping at that, the High Court also directed for the appointment of Local Commissioners "to visit the premises of the Defendants at the various locations indicated hereunder with the assistance of two representatives of the Plaintiffs to search the said premises, seize and make an inventory of all infringing/counterfeit products and storage devices bearing the mark RAY BAN found therein; return the said seized goods on superdari to the Defendants; obtain undertakings from each of them to produce the seized goods before the Court as and when directed." The Court further authorized the Commissioners "to visit any other premises/warehouse/store where they may have reason to suspect and/or information be received that counterfeit optical sunglasses bearing the Plaintiffs' trademark RAY BAN are being stored/sold/offered for sale and thereafter", permitting them "to take the assistance of the local police in carrying out the directions in this order. They will also take along a photographer/videographer to record their visit through photos or an video. The fees of the photographer/videographer will be paid by the Plaintiffs." Further, "If access is denied by the Defendants to all or any portion of the premises in question, it will also be open to each of the Commissioners to break open the locks."

Big relief for Ray Ban manufacturers indeed, atleast till the disposal of the case. Have a look at the order which records these and other details.

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