The High Court of Mardas has ruled on a plea against Patanjali Ayurved for Trademark Infringement. It stated that Patanjali Ayurved founded cannot use ‘Coronil’ as the name of its product which it claimed was a cure for COVID-19. It ruled in favor of the petitioner, Ardura Engineering Pvt Ltd, a company based in Chennai. It pointed out that the Ayurved pharma giant could have done a “simple check with the Trademarks Registry” to check if ‘Coronil was a registered trademark, which it was.
Patanjali Ayurved was founded by Baba Ramdev, a famous Yoga guru in India with a considerable mass following. The company introduced its product ‘Coronil kit’ a few weeks ago which it claimed was a cure for COVID-19 infection. This was reportedly done without the requisite permissions and therefore on the same day, Union AYUSH ministry asked the company to stop marketing the product until it passed the Indian standards. A shift in the stance came a few days after when the product was rebranded as an immunity booster when it failed to meet the claims of being a cure for the pandemic causing infection.
Trademark infringement is defined under Section 29 of the Trademarks Act, 1999. Last month, Ardura filed a plea in the High Court claiming that it had the exclusive rights to this name (Coronil 92-B trademark) until 2027 and Patanjali breached them. The public record stated that this name was registered as Ardura’s trademark in June 1983. Following this information, the court passed interim orders which barred Patanjali from using this name on its product. The bench of Justice CV Karthikeyan adjudicated the matter. It noted-
“The defendants have invited this litigation on themselves. A simple check with the Trademarks Registry would have revealed that 'Coronil' is a registered trademark," said Justice CV Karthikeyan in his order, "If they had, and had still, with audacity used the name 'Coronil', then they deserve no consideration at all. They cannot assume they can bulldoze their way and infringe a registered trademark.” Elaborating on the judgment, Justice Karthikeyan said-
“They (Patanjali) must realize there is no equity in trade and commerce. If they had not done a check with the Registry, then they are at fault. They cannot plead ignorance and innocence and seek indulgence from this court. Either way, indulgence is refused.” Moreover, the court also went on to fine Patanjali with a sum of Rs. 10 Lacs for exploiting fear and panic among the general public by projecting a coronavirus cure. It observed that these tablets were merely immunity boosters against cough, cold, and fever. Specific instructions were given which directed the company to pay this fine to organizations that are helping people in this critical period without seeking any recognition. Finally, the court ordered it to pay Rs. 5 lacs to Chennai’s Adyar Cancer Institute and the Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital because of these institutes’ benevolent gesture of treating patients for free without any claims. Throughout the country, multiple FIRs and pleas have been filed in courts on different levels which show how Patanjali by moving hastily has breached multiple laws safeguarding citizens’ interest in these tough circumstances.