Bombay HC dismisses plea to restrict SII’s Covishield trademark use

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 09:45 AM IST
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Bombay High Court |

Mumbai: A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Chandrakant Bhadang of the Bombay High Court dismissed a plea from a Nanded-based pharmaceutical firm that sought injunction against the Serum Institute of India (SII) from using the name ‘Covishield’ as a trademark.

The bench observed that asking SII to not use Covishield as a trademark would cause confusion in the vaccine administration drive undertaken by the state. The firm, Cutis Biotech, that sells hand sanitisers under the brand name Covishield, claimed to have applied for registration of the trademark for its products.

SII, through senior counsel Dr Birendra Saraf, claimed that it coined the word in March 2020, for its vaccine, which has undergone all mandatory clinical tests before administering to the public. It placed on record an inter-office communication between the Purchase Department to obtain packaging material for the Covishield vaccine.

Saraf further pointed out that his client had, in March 2020 itself, made a public statement that they are investing around USD 100 million on the COVID-19 vaccine.

"The vaccine produced by SII is not available across the counter. The vaccine will be administered through government agencies. The buyer of the product Covishield of SII is the Government of India," the judges noted in their order.

The bench further said that the hand sanitiser is a different product. And, the vaccine that is administered is through an injection. Thus, the consumers won't be confused about the products.

"It will be too far fetched to hold that there will be confusion in the average consumers' minds between the use of a trademark in a government administered vaccine at designated places and over the counter sanitiser products. Visually also the products are different," the bench noted.

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