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The legality of identical Packaging in India


By

Sakshi Shairwal

Anoushka Biswas



Before delving into the intricacies of the paper, the intention is to put the relevant issue contouring the legal minds;


Whether the mark and product packaging used by another entity amount to infringement of the initial entity's trademark and product packaging?


As days roll by, the importance of self-service marketing is evolving to be very critical. For instance, in a typical store, a customer passes around 600 things for each moment, or one thing each 10th of a second. Subsequently, the best way to get a few shoppers to see the item is through presentations, rack holders, detach coupon blocks, other purpose of-procurement gadgets, and, to wrap things up, viable bundles. Considering the significance set on the pile, it isn't astounding that much examination is spent on persuasive exploration, shading testing, mental control, etc., to discover how most shoppers will respond to another bundle. In light of the consequences of this exploration, experience, and the current and foreseen contenders' choices, the advertiser, will at first decide the essential part of the bundle comparative with the item. Would it be a good idea to incorporate quality, wellbeing, differentiation, reasonableness, comfort, or tasteful excellence?


While at it, it's essential to look into the definition of a "pre-packaged commodity" as elucidated, "pre-packaged commodity means a commodity which without the purchase being present is placed in a package of whatever nature, whether sealed or not, so that the product contained therein has a pre-determined quality".[1] The goal is to grasp the concept of the pre-packaged commodity. Once it is done, one needs to understand the laws regulating the Packaging of the product. The chief regulating laws are as follows:


1.) Bureau of Indian Standards,

2.)The Legal Meteorology Act, 2009 and Packaged Commodities Rules, 2011

3.) Food Safety and Standard Authority of Indian Act, 2006 and Rules, 2011.


The item marking and bundling system makes officeholder the decimal standard for measuring as the norm of loads and measures in India and characterizes the testing, adjustment and accreditation of metric-directing bodies; it likewise administers the bundling and offer of products using such measures. The Legal Metrology Act, 2009 and Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 accommodate normalization of bundling and marking in India and characterize the naming necessities of all items made, imported and sold in the nation. Yet less significantly, customary law also has formed bundling and naming essentials, prominently for food and drink bundling.


In the recent times, Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred as the Plaintiff) sued Future Group Ltd. (hereinafter referred as the Defendant) alleging identical packaging infringements of Plaintiff's copyrights coupled with a cause of action for passing off wherein it was discovered that the latter's products had deceptively similar packing to that of Parle's products. The Bombay High Court, in this case, restrained the Defendant from infringing Parle's trademark in terms of the Packaging of its respective products vide passing an ad-interim injunction order. The Court had held, "There is no doubt that the rival labels are being used for identical products under nearly identical packaging and trade dresses. The similarity in the rival packaging/labels cannot be a matter of coincidence."[2]


Indeed, this is a positive way to deal with the bundling yet. Numerous brands have been famous and taken freedoms on the bundling to delude the customers to get tied up with misrepresented food items and void calories without giving critical data about the equivalent. Fortunately, there have been bodies managing what is and what isn't being discussed on the bundling as visual and verbal correspondence since the most recent decade. Subsequently, it has now gotten essential to coordinate the comprehensive data about the item inside, be it fixings, use, and utilization subtleties, which guide the purchasers to settle on the correct decision.


With an ever-increasing number of bodies directing this data, its realness is essential, and a considerable lot of them are dynamic worldwide. FSSAI in India is the one that is presently controlling the laws for food enterprises, particularly bundled food and drinks and is guaranteeing severe requirement of the laws it has set for the equivalent.


In reporting that the new guideline had been advised, Pawan Agarwal, CEO of FSSAI[3], expressed that "the new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level."[4] He added that partner discussion and mass mindfulness working among buyers and food organizations would go before using the new bundling guidelines. This, this way, has a massive effect with regards to bundling plan, where the creatives discover this "way too much information as a deterrent to their creative expression of the product idea."[5] Nonetheless, I suspect something and accept that creative need to view bundling plan as a complete bit of legitimately feasible correspondence to the purchasers and not merely a stylishly appealing pack to bait them into an unreasonable story. Indeed, there is no motivation to get unsettled. I consider this to be a test and an occasion to talk genuinely with the shoppers and reveal to them stories they will accept. You make sure to have them back searching for a similar Brand. On the other hand, if not clung to, it might cause real ramifications for the brand, such as pulling out the items back from the rack or taking other restorative measures to guarantee the compliances are met.[6]


It's just a matter of understanding the straightforward principles set by FSSAI and utilizing them as rules when planning. FSSAI doesn't generally restrict the limits as far as imaginative articulation yet characterizes to the degree of fantastical portrayal by requesting that one couple it with continuous data, for instance, on a treat that only contains natural product seasoning and no organic product mash, the inventive portrayal can't be that of genuine natural product. The test is to get innovative and educational simultaneously. It is basic along these lines to know the Key Guidelines in advance. This bundling redo of the RX soundbar is an exemplary illustration of an imaginative data plan for Packaging.


Also, it has been quite established that in the majority of the cases where the counterfeit products use similar Packaging, the courts usually do not award compensatory damages on account of the loss of actual sales. But in 2008 in M/s General Electric Company v. Mr Altamas Khan & Others.[7], the coordinated Bench of the High Court of Delhi awarded such damages of INR 1,00,000 and similarly in the case, Microsoft Corporation v. Yogesh Popat & Anr.[8] the Bench granted a humongous amount of INR 19,00,000 for the loss of assumed profit to the Plaintiff.


As of late, Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. documented an ordinary suit against Future Group Ltd. charging indistinguishable bundling encroachment of Plaintiffs copyright joined with a reason for an activity for passing off, wherein it was discovered that the last's items had indistinguishable/misleadingly comparative in bundling to that of Parle's things. The facts are below mentioned:


i.) Parle Products Pvt. Ltd. (in this alluded to as the 'Offended party') is the most picked Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brand since 2010. Offended party fabricates and sells a scope of bread rolls anyway not restricted to candy parlours, cakes, wafers, and so forth.

ii.) In the years 1939, 1971, and 1996 the Plaintiff started producing its well-known rolls - "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "HIDE&SEEK" separately.

iii.) From that point forward, to make sure about its legal rights in the "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "Hide and SEEK" brand name the Plaintiff had applied for and made sure about brand name enlistment in regard of the equivalent under the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

iv.) In the long stretches of July 2013, July 2014, and May 2017, the Plaintiff upgraded and made the most recent bundling for "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "HIDE&SEEK", separately.

v.) Further, it was unveiled that the Plaintiff's bundling was made/wrote by Mr Mayank Shah, a Plaintiff worker during his course of business. Hence, Plaintiff is the proprietor of the copyright in the bundling.

vi.) In and around the second seven day stretch of September 2020, Plaintiff went over the Defendants, bread rolls bearing the imprint "CRACKO", "KRACKER KING" and "PEEKA-BOO" having exchange dresses/bundling/marks which were indistinguishable with and additionally misleadingly like or potentially generous proliferation of Plaintiff's Packaging.

vii.) In the current case, Bombay High Court controlled, Future Consumer Ltd. (from now on alluded to as 'the Defendant') from encroaching Parle's brand name regarding the bundling of its items vide passing a temporary directive request.


The issue at hand was two-fold:


1.) If the plaintiffs were the owners of Copyright in Plaintiff's Packaging of their products "Monaco", "Krackjack" or "Hide and Seek"?

2.) Whether the defendants have deceptively copied the Plaintiff's Packaging and label concerning their products mentioned above?


Plaintiff's contention:


i.) It was presented that as per the Nielsen Report for the year 2010 Plaintiff's image PARLE-G was confirmed as the world's biggest-selling bread roll brand.

ii.) It is expressed that since the start, the Plaintiff has been transparently, persistently, and widely utilizing Plaintiffs' Packaging, upon and concerning their merchandise in India.

iii.) It is also expressed that the Plaintiff has taken endeavours to advocate their items bearing its Packaging and have been exhausting considerable amounts of cash and initiatives towards constantly promoting deals of India's applicable merchandise.

iv.) It was presented that its Packaging incorporates the highlights thereof that have gotten unmistakable of its products and imply and signify to the individuals from the overall population and exchange the merchandise of Plaintiff alone and nobody else.

v.) It was contended that the Defendants have purposefully supplied their decried items on the racks close by Plaintiffs' items.

vi.) It was battled that the Defendants had duplicated each component of Plaintiffs' Packaging, including the design, shading blend, position, and every specific element and highlights of Plaintiffs' Packaging to the last millimetre.

vii.) He further presented that the Defendant's utilization of Plaintiff's exchange dresses, names, and bundling added up to Plaintiff's copyrights' encroachment and passing off.


The stance taken is somewhat as follow:


It was noted by the Hon'ble Bombay High Court (hereinafter alluded to as 'the Court') that an examination of the adversary items scarcely departs any uncertainty about how Defendants have glaringly duplicated Plaintiffs' Packaging/names. There is no uncertainty that the adversary names are being utilized for indistinguishable items under almost imperceptible bundling and exchange dresses. The marks/fine arts/bundling/exchange dresses of Defendants' "CrackO", "Kracker King" and "Surprise" items are a generation of Plaintiffs' Packaging utilized in regard of their "MONACO", "KRACKJACK" and "Hide and SEEK" items or potentially multiplications of significant parts thereof. Litigants probably had Plaintiffs' things before them while planning the reprimanded bundling. The likeness in the opponent bundling/marks can't involve occurrence. The Court held that there were, at first sight, proves that the Plaintiffs were the first proprietors of copyrights on the bundling of their items through which their image Parle has picked up considerable incentive as far as notoriety and generosity. Concerning the discoveries, Bombay High Court passed a substitute directive request limiting the Defendants from imitating, fabricating, selling its items which are indistinguishable or misleadingly like that of Plaintiff's items' bundling, naming, exchange dress, format or shading plan to make their reprimanded things look like the Plaintiff's items.[9]


It can safely be inferred that while the law doesn't speak fluency, but one can hope for a landmark law, anytime now.



The article first published on Lexology.com and the same can be accessed here.





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