The Trade Marks Act,1999
9. Absolute grounds for refusal of registration.—
(1) The trade marks—
(a) which are devoid of any distinctive character, that is to say, not capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of another person;
(b) which consist exclusively of marks or indications which may serve in trade to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, values, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or rendering of the service or other characteristics of the goods or service;
(c) which consist exclusively of marks or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade,
shall not be registered :
Provided that a trade mark shall not be refused registration if before the date of application for registration it has acquired a distinctive character as a result of the use made of it or is a well-known trade mark.
(2) A mark shall not be registered as a trade mark if—
(a) it is of such nature as to deceive the public or cause confusion;
(b) it contains or comprises of any matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any class or section of the citizens of India;
(c) it comprises or contains scandalous or obscene matter;
(d) its use is prohibited under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (12 of 1950).
(3) A mark shall not be registered as a trade mark if it consists exclusively of—
(a) the shape of goods which results from the nature of the goods themselves; or
(b) the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result; or
(c) the shape which gives substantial value to the goods.
For the purposes of this section, the nature of goods or services in relation to which the trade mark is used or proposed to be used shall not be a ground for refusal of registration.
This section stipulates that the trade marks which are devoid of any distinctive character or which consist exclusively of marks or indications which may serve in trade to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, values, geographical origin or the time of production of goods or rendering of the services or other characteristics of the goods or service or which consist exclusively of marks or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practice of the trade shall not be registered, unless it is shown that the mark has in fact acquired a distinctive character as a result of use before the date of application. It also provides that a mark shall not be registered as trade marks if (i) it deceives the public or causes confusion, (ii) it contains or comprises of any matter likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities, (iii) it contains scandalous or obscene matter, (iv) its use is prohibited. It further provides that if a mark consists exclusively of (a) the shape of goods which form the nature of goods themselves, or (b) the shape of goods which is necessary to obtain a technical result, or (c) the shape which gives substantial value of the goods then it shall not be registered as trade mark.
t of similarity
In order to come to the conclusion whether one mark is deceptively similar to another the broad and essential features of the two are to be considered. They should not be placed side by side to find out if there are any differences in the design and if so whether they are of such a character as to prevent one design from being mistaken for the other. It would be enough if the impugned mark bears such an overall similarity to the registered mark as would be likely to misled a person usually dealing with one to accept the other if offered to him; Mumtaz Ahmed v. Pakeeza Chemicals; AIR 2003 All 114.
Apart from the structural, visual and phonetic similarity or dissimilarity, the question has to be considered from the point of view of man of average intelligence and imperfect collection. Secondly, it is to be considered as a whole and thirdly it is the question of his impression; BDH Industries Ltd. v. Croydon Chemical Works Pvt. Ltd., AIR 2002 Bom 361.
It is common knowledge that ’bidis’ are being used by persons belonging to poorer and illiterate or semi-literate class. Their level of awareness is not high. It cannot be expected of them that they would comprehend and understand the fine differences between the two labels, which may be detected on comparing the two labels when placed side by side. The essential features of the two labels are common. In view of above, there appears to be deceptive similarity between the two labels; Mohd. Iqbal v. Mohd. Wasim, AIR 2002 MP 162.