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Court Comes Down Heavily On MAHE Namesakes

The Judge felt that it appeared from the records of the case that the defendants were representing themselves as part of the plaintiffs’ institutions and that they carried the same legacy

The Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Institute of Eminence Deemed to be University) (MAHE) has crossed a major hurdle in its legal battle with namesake clones that have been using the ‘Manipal’ brand name and trademark for their own profit-making initiatives in the education domain, termed “unfair’ and “not honest” by the Additional District & Sessions Court, Bengaluru.

In a sweeping temporary Injunction Order, Justice Basavraj Chengti, Additional District & Sessions Judge, Bengaluru Rural District, has restrained the defendants - Manipal International School, Manipal E-Commerce Ltd., Mr. T. Sudhakar Pai, Manipal Academy of Health and Education and Kurlon Ltd. from using the trademarks ‘ ‘Manipal International School’, ‘MIS’, ‘Manipal Academy of Health and Education’, ‘MAHE’, ‘Manipal Group’ and other marks comprising the word ‘Manipal’ with or without any other word/s identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiffs’ registered trademarks ‘MAHE (Deemed University)’, ‘Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Deemed University)’ and ‘Manipal University’ singularly or in conjunction with any other word or monogram/ logo as a trademark, service mark, trade name, trading style/ corporate name/ domain name or in any other manner whatsoever and from publishing/ promoting or advertising the same, amounting to infringement, passing off, unfair competition till disposal of the suit for or in relation to education and healthcare services till disposal of the suit. The order further said, “The defendants and their men are further restrained by an order of temporary injunction from using the domain name ‘manipalschoolecity.com’ till disposal of the suit. Ex-parte order of T.I. dated 21-02-2019 granted in favour of the plaintiffs is made absolute in respect of education and healthcare services.”

‘Manipal Academy of Health & Education (with an acronym of MAHE)’/T. Sudhakar Pai sought to establish and run a school under the name of “Manipal International School”. Manipal Academy of Higher Education, a public trust, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Deemed University) [now Institution of Eminence Deemed to be University], went to court contesting the use of the word ‘Manipal’ by defendants. The Manipal Academy of Higher Education, formerly Manipal University, has been shaping careers since inception for the past several decades and has been recognized as an Institution of Eminence by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. It is this rich bequest that was brought into the ambit of the case before the restraining order was passed. In an incisive and telling observation, the Judge said: “This aspect indicates that the adoption of the mark ‘Manipal’ by the defendants for the similar services as that of the plaintiffs is not honest. A letter of the defendant No.3 to the PM’s office goes to show that it was done with dishonest intention and was deceptive. It further appears that the defendants are trying to make profits out of the reputation and goodwill of the plaintiffs. This can be termed as an unfair competition.” The defendants, the Judge said, were using the impugned marks and names for their services in the field of education which were similar to that of the plaintiffs and such usage was likely to “cause confusion in the mind of consumer and deceive the public at large.


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