Indica! What does the name remind you of — a car or a hair dye? Indeed, this is the crux of the dispute brewing between Tata Motors and CavinKare Ltd. The fact is that Tata Motors, the automobile major, has filed an objection with the Registrar of Trademark (RoT) against CavinKare on the ‘Indica’ brand name. While Tata Motors had introduced its compact segment car after registering it in the ‘Indica’ brand na-me, the FMCG firm had launched its hair dye under the same ‘Indica’ title. Sharing the same brand name has led to fight of so-rts between the two firms.
Tata Motors had registered its Indica car brand with the RoT in 1998, when the car was launched. So, when CavinKare recently approached the RoT for registering its hair dye under the same brand name, Tata Motors took offence. Ms Dorothy Thomas, partner in Kochhar and Company, a legal firm which specialises in patent rights and trademark, explained: “Procedurally, upon filing of the application at the RoT the same is sent to the head registry in Mumbai. The application is then examined at the head registry and in case of any objections, the communication on the same is directly conveyed to the applicant. Thereafter, the application is advertised in the Trade Marks Journal for one month and in case of no dispute or objection to the particular trademark, it is duly registered and issued from the head registry.”
Once CavinKare’s application was advertised, Tata Motors placed its objection. According to Ms Thomas, once an individual or a company expresses its objection to the registration of a particular trademark, the case would then be automatically taken up for hearing by the RoT.
However, legal experts believe that there is not much merit in the case since the two products fall under entirely different categories. A legal expert said, “Tata Motors is not likely to win this case, since the two products share the same brand name fall under different classes of the Registration of Trademark Act, 1999. Also, there is no precedent to this case. What Tata is essentially trying to prove is that their trademark is very popular and that any one trying to use that same trademark is taking un-due advantage of the Tata brand’s popularity.”
Tata Motors spoke-sperson said, “Tata Indica has a strong brand identity in the market and we do not want another company to take undue advantage of our brand’s popularity. We have formally stated our objection to the RoT.”
CavinKare, however, finds no justification in Tata Motors’ objection. A company spokesperson said, “Under the Registration of Trademark Act, 1999, the Indica car falls under Class 12 while CavinKare’s Indica hair dye falls under Class 3 of the Act. Moreover, Indica is a fairly common dictionary name. We do not see the possibility of confusion arising because the products have similar names. We do not have a precedent to justify the argument. Anyway there are lots of brands which co-exist under the same brand name. For instance, there is an Amul dairy product and an Amul underwear. We have a Lux soap and a Lux underwear. So, where is the problem ?”