Thursday, 27 September 2018

India: CNN - GNN Trademark Dispute: IPAB Decides in Favor of CNN

CNN, the US based cable and satellite television channel owned by the Turner Broadcasting System has won a four-year-old trademark battle against media company GNN India Ltd (GNN) for using a similar logo.  CNN had moved the IPAB in April 2014.

The Chennai Bench of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) headed by Justice Manmohan Singh issued the order, and also directed the Registrar of Trademarks to remove the already registered trademark of GNN India from the Register.

“The Respondent (GNN India Limited) has cleverly structured the impugned mark ‘GNN’ with a view to coming close to the ‘CNN’ trademark” was the reasoning provided by the IPAB in the order, while also stating that “From an overall comparison of the marks, it is apparent that the rival marks are extremely similar. As such it will lead to a likelihood of association with the brand ‘CNN’ whose services, being broadcasting and telecommunication, are virtually identical,” the order stated, adding that it clearly displays the Indian firm’s unlawful intent to trade upon the goodwill and worldwide reputation associated with the ‘CNN’ trademark.”

Justice Manmohan Singh, while issuing the final order, reportedly observed that the Indian firm had adopted the original trademark with “bad faith”.

While noting that the onus of identifying bogus trademarks lies with the Registrar of trademarks being the public authority on the subject matter, the Bench in its order also stated that “The objective of maintaining a trademark register is that the public should know whose goods they are buying and with whom particular goods are associated”.

Reportedly, GNN did not file any counter statement nor did it appear on the dates on which it was summoned by the IPAB.

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