‘Rooh Afza’ vs ‘Dil Afza’: consumers know the difference, says HC

Petition seeks to restrain another company from marketing its sharbat

The Delhi High Court has declined the plea of Hamdard National Foundation (India), manufacturer of popular ‘Rooh Afza’ sharbat, seeking to restrain another company from marketing its sharbat under the name ‘Dil Afza’.

Justice Asha Menon remarked that buying a bottle of sharbat may involve emotions, but not deep to the extent that buyers would confuse between ‘Rooh’ and ‘Dil’, which means ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’ respectively.

Justice Menon clarified that Hamdard can lay claim to the complete name ‘Rooh Afza’ but not to either of the two words that constitute the trademark.

Cites similarities

Hamdard had moved the court with the contention that in March 2020, they came to know that Sadar Laboratories Pvt. Ltd had issued an advertisement launching its sharbat named ‘Dil Afza’ in deceptively similar ringlet bottles as that of the ‘Rooh Afza’ bottle.

It claimed that Sadar Laboratories had with “mala fide intention adopted a deceptively similar mark, unique get-up, and design for its product”.

Hamdard also claimed that they had acquired immense reputation and goodwill in relation to ‘Rooh Afza’ and the value of the sales had reached ₹30,983.57 lakh in 2019-20 and ₹16,281.41 lakh in 2020-21 (till August 2020).

Hamdrad, engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling unani and ayurvedic medicines, oils, syrups, and non-alcoholic beverages for over 100 years, said they have incurred heavy promotional expenses for its product. It said the trademark ‘Rooh Afza’ was first registered on August 3, 1942 and the registration continues to be valid even now.

Justice Menon agreed with Hamdard’s claim of having built a vast reputation and goodwill in respect of their trademark ‘Rooh Afza’ but said that it “would be taking an extreme position, even if the consumers were connoisseurs, to believe that the use of the word ‘Rooh’ and ‘Dil’ would cause confusion because they connote deep emotion”.

“…Those who appreciate this deep emotion would be the first to be able to distinguish between ‘Rooh’ and ‘Dil’,” the judge said, adding to the common consumer, the use of the words, ‘Dil’ and ‘Rooh’ do not denote the same thing.

“Even if the sharbat has been produced only since 2020, no case has been made out to restrain the defendant [Sadar Laboratories] from marketing it under the name ‘Dil Afza’,” the court said.

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