Termed “unfair’ and “not honest” by the Additional District and Sessions Court, Bengaluru, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Institute of Eminence Deemed to be University) (MAHE) has crossed a major hurdle in its legal battle against its namesake clones that have been using the ‘Manipal’ brand name and trademark for their own profit-making initiatives in the education domain.
Manipal Academy of Higher Education, a public trust, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Deemed University now Institution of Eminence Deemed to be University), had reached court contesting the use of the word ‘Manipal’ by defendants.‘Manipal Academy of Health and Education (with an acronym of MAHE)’, T Sudhakar Pai sought to establish and run a school under the name of ‘Manipal International School.
Justice Basavraj Chengti, additional district and sessions judge, Bengaluru Rural District, has restrained the defendants – Manipal International School, Manipal E-Commerce Limited, T Sudhakar Pai, Manipal Academy of Health and Education and Kurlon Limited from using the trademarks ‘Manipal International School’, ‘MIS’, ‘Manipal Academy of Health and Education’, ‘MAHE’, ‘Manipal Group’ and other marks comprising the word ‘Manipal’ with or without any other word or words identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiffs’ registered trademarks ‘MAHE (Deemed University)’, ‘Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Deemed University)’ and ‘Manipal University’ singularly or in conjunction with any other word or monogram or logo as a trademark, service mark, trade name, trading style or corporate name or domain name or in any other manner whatsoever and from publishing or promoting or advertising the same, amounting to infringement, passing off, unfair competition till disposal of the suit for or in relation to education and healthcare services till disposal of the suit.
“The defendants and their men are further restrained by an order of temporary injunction from using the domain name ‘manipalschoolecity.com’ till disposal of the suit. Ex-parte order of T.I. dated 21-02-2019 granted in favour of the plaintiffs is made absolute in respect of education and healthcare services,” the order further said.
The Manipal Academy of Higher Education, formerly Manipal University, has been shaping careers since inception for the past several decades and has been recognized as an Institution of Eminence by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. It is this rich bequest that was brought into the ambit of the case before the restraining order was passed.
The Judge felt that it appeared from the records of the case that the defendants were representing themselves as part of the plaintiffs’ institutions and that they carried the same legacy. “This aspect indicates that the adoption of the mark ‘Manipal’ by the defendants for the similar services as that of the plaintiffs is not honest. A letter of the defendant number three to the PM’s office goes to show that it was done with dishonest intention and was deceptive. It further appears that the defendants are trying to make profits out of the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiffs. This can be termed as an unfair competition,” the Judge said:
According to the judge, the defendants, were using the impugned marks and names for their services in the field of education which were similar to that of the plaintiffs and such usage was likely to “cause confusion in the mind of consumer and deceive the public at large.
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