The Plaintiff, H&M Hennes and Mauritz AB and its Indian subsidiary, sued the Defendant, HM Megabrands Pvt. Ltd., for passing off/ infringement of the Plaintiff's trade mark "H&M" (word mark as well as logo) by adopting and using a deceptive variant (word mark as well as logo) "HM". The Plaintiff's contention was that its logo is an artwork within the definition of Copyright Act, 1957 and the use of a deceptively similar logo by the Defendant is a violation of the Plaintiff's copyright, in addition to amounting to passing off and trademark infringement.
The Defendant's contention was that though the alphabets 'H' and 'M' in the two marks are the same, the addition of the word "Megabrands" distinguishes the mark of the Defendant from that of the Plaintiff. Another contention of the Defendant was that the documents filed by the Plaintiff do not show use of the said trademark in India in the course of trade, but merely indicated supply of products by certain entities to the Plaintiff. Yet another contention of the Defendant was that the Plaintiff, in their reply to the Examination Report issued by the Trade Marks Registry citing similar marks such as 'HMT', 'HMV', 'HMW, 'H.M. Tex Kamal' and 'H.M.C, pleaded that the comparison of the two marks should be done in entirety and not in separate components, therefore, the Plaintiff having taken such a stand is estopped from suing for infringement.
The Hon'ble Court, while considering the application for interim relief, observed that the Plaintiff has a prima facie case. The Plaintiff, being the prior adopter of their mark 'H&M' since 1972, trade on the same category of goods, being, marketing and manufacturing of fashionable clothing and ancillary products, and thus, share the same trade channels with the Defendant. It was further laid down that 'Megabrands' is a descriptive and generic word which is usually used to describe any big or successful brand. Moreover, suffixing the two letters common to both parties with 'Megabrands' only connotes that "HM" is a megabrand and rather than distinguishing, the Defendant's mark only reinforces the impression that the owner of the business of both marks is one and the same. With respect to the Defendant's contention regarding the Plaintiff being estopped from suing for infringement, the Hon'ble Court laid down that none of the marks that were cited in the Examination Report were in any business connected to that of the Plaintiff. Furthermore, the Court stated that merely because the Plaintiff, at the stage of seeking registration, took a stand as aforesaid, the same cannot stop the Plaintiff from exercising its statutory and natural rights. Therefore, the Court ruled that there is no estoppel against statute. Due to the aforesaid reasons, the interim application of the Plaintiff seeking injunction was allowed and the Defendant was restrained from using in any manner whatsoever the mark "HM".