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05 December 2017

Mere addition of suffix or prefix to a mark does not remove likelihood of confusion

The appellant was aggrieved by the order of permanent injunction passed in favour of respondent who runs fast food restaurant and was using the name ‘Adiga’, ‘Vasudev Adiga’ and various other combinations with ‘Adiga’.
 
The respondent was prior user of the unregistered trademark (since 1993) and sought to register the same in 2004 when he discovered that the appellant was selling sweets in under the brand ‘Adiga Sweets’.
 
The High Court in its Judgement dated 9-11-2017 stated that while examining the claim of passing off in case of an unregistered trademark, due weightage has to be given interalia to similarity between marks including phonetic similarity, nature of goods etc. It quoted from various studies and articles on the psychological impact of confusion in trademarks that generally a consumer would rely on pattern recognition and if sufficient number of features represented in the incoming information match the pattern of features of a pre-existing cognitive network, a consumer may associate the mark in front of him with another.
 
Moreover, the fast food restaurant was also selling sweets. The High Court in the case Adiga Sweets  v.  Vasudev Adiga Fast Foods P Ltd upheld the order of permanent injunction reasoning that mere addition of prefix or suffix to the words common to both marks cannot rule out confusion.