22 August 2014

Green dot inside a square symbolizing vegetarian food cannot be copyrighted

Allahabad High Court has quashed the order granting injunction restraining the defendants-appellants (Apex Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.) from using the “green dot” on the label of the packaging of its product “Zincovit Syrup”. The court in this regard held that green dot inside a square outlined by green colour is a symbol for which copyright cannot be claimed by anybody as the symbol is prescribed by a statute, namely Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 read with Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (PFA). Contention that this symbol was the artistic work of the plaintiff-respondent, was found to be patently erroneous. The court in its order dated 11-7-2014 noted that there was no evidence that the plaintiff was using the symbol prior to its enforcement under the PFA.

On the question of prior use of the trademark “Zincovit”, the court rejected the plea of prior use by the plaintiff noting that if they were the owner and prior user of the mark, they would not have agreed to manufacture the product and the label in their factory for the defendants-appellant. It was also noted that there was no indication that while applying for registration under Copyright Act vide his application dated 29-12-2009, the plaintiff had attached a certificate from the Registrar of Trademarks that no identical or deceptively similar trademark  has been registered under the Trademarks Act, more so when  the artistic work of the plaintiff, registered on 29-3-2011, was found not only to be deceptively similar, but more or less identical to the artistic work of the defendants, which was registered on 22-10-1997.


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