In a landmark judgement delivered by Hon’ble Justice G. S. Sistani of the High Court of Delhi, in a case filed by M/s Cadila Healthcare Ltd., Ahmedabad, against GCMMF, the marketers of Amul, has ruled that the descriptive words “Sugar Free” cannot be used as a trade mark and cannot be owned by any one.
The Hon’ble judge also ruled that M/s Cadila Healthcare cannot be allowed to arrogate its monopoly to use the expression “Sugar Free” since the said expression being inherently descriptive in nature has become a commonly used word in relation to foods and beverages. The hon’ble judge also observed that since Sugar Free is not a coined word nor it is an unusal combination of words, and therefore is a commonly used expression in written as well as spoken English and hence cannot be monopolised for use by any trade.
The judgment also makes it clear that any descriptive word cannot be monopolised as having secondary meaning unless that is the only manner that product can be described and no other.
Hon’ble Justice G. S. Sistani also made it clear that any popular expression in line of particular category cannot be owned by any one and it will not be equitable to allow a blanket injunction for use of popular expression by one party, so long as it is used as a descriptive epithet and not as trade mark. The Justice also remarked that while using these words by way of descriptive expression one should be prepared to take the risk of widespread use of similar trade mark by fellow traders.
This important judgement would therefore restrict monopolistic use of popular expressions especially with descriptive nature by few traders. This kind of descriptive words therefore would be open to use by anyone in trade and business. Amul’s Sugar Free Ice-cream against which Cadila Healthcare had filed the injunction, would now be available and publicly advertised.