While dealing with an interlocutory application in a suit filed by Shyam Steel Industries Limited, the division bench of Calcutta High Court observed that there is no ‘infallible’ principle that God’s name is not registrable as a trademark. The Petitioner was the registered proprietor of the word ‘Shyam’ and label marks for infringement of trademark and passing off against the defendant Shyam Sel and Power Limited. The Court even while considering the contention of the defendant stated that ‘Shyam’ is another name of Lord Krishna and thus no exclusive right can be claimed by anyone over this mark.

To be precise, the Court stated, “In my opinion, there is no authority or at least no authority was shown to us, which laid down that God’s name was not registrable as a trademark.”

In an earlier Supreme Court case, it was noted that, “Only the names of holy and religious books like the Quran, Bible, Guru Granth Sahib, Ramayan etc. could not be a trademark. Therefore, this court cannot say as an infallible principle of law that registration of the word ‘Shyam’ was invalid and its registration could be cancelled. The respondent has to prove, by leading cogent evidence before the Board, that indeed the name ‘Shyam’ refers to God only, is not distinctive of the appellant, is generic and common. Hence, its registration was invalid. The respondent has not been able to establish this, even prima facie.

The Court also stated that if the Court think the general public may be mislead into buying the goods manufactured by the defendant thinking them to be goods of the plaintiff, then an injunction must be ‘issued’. However, the Court said that in appropriate case some time may be granted to the defendant to sell their existing stock.

Thus, it was held that the plaintiff is the registered owner of the trademark ‘Shyam’.

Link to Judgment:

Shyam Steel Industries Ltd. v. Shyam Sel and Power Ltd. & Anr.

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