Private entities involved in organising beauty pageants and other business activities by illegally using the brand name "Khadi" of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) have been restrained by the Delhi High Court from carrying out any "misleading" activities in the name of Khadi.
The Noida-based 'Khadi Design Council of India' (KDCI) and 'Miss India Khadi Foundation' (MIKF) were accused by the KVIC of fraudulently using the brand name and deceiving people.
In an ex-parte order, the high court said the names of the two entities were "deceptively similar" to the KVIC's trademark 'Khadi' and hence, amounted to violation of the trademark.
The high court also directed the defendants -- 'Khadi Design Council of India', 'Miss India Khadi Foundation' and its self-proclaimed CEO Ankush Anami -- to take down all their social media accounts on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook under the tradename 'Khadi Design Council of India' and 'Miss India Khadi'.
It also ordered taking down infringing content from their websites -- www.missindiskhadi.in and www.kdci.org -- and an e-commerce portal www.paridhaanam.com run by Anami -- that is analogous to KVIC's e-portal.
The high court accepted the arguments of the KVIC that the defendants' websites and social media pages have been scripted and structured in a manner that gives the impression that they are the same as the KVIC or they are part of a government body providing the same services as the Khadi India.
"The same demonstrates the serious bad faith on part of the defendants and their intention to mislead the consumers and ride on the plaintiff's goodwill," the KVIC alleged.
The KVIC alleged that the private entities were planning and advertising two events titled 'Miss India Khadi' and 'National Khadi Designers Awards, 2019' in Goa from December 19 to 22, 2020, and thus creating a false impression that the events are organized by the KVIC.
Further, the defendant KDCI was duping people by promising 'Khadi Certification' to fashion designers and charging Rs 2,000 per head in lieu of that and they also claimed to be associated with KVIC's Prime Minister's Employment Generation Program (PMEGP) on their website www.missindiakhadi.in which contained a hyperlink to the KVIC's PMEGP page.
Taking note of KVIC's contention, Justice Sanjeev Narula said, "The plaintiff (KVIC) has established a prima facie case in its favour... An irreparable loss would be caused to the plaintiff, i.e. KVIC in case an ex-parte interim injunction is not granted."
"Accordingly, till the next date of hearing, the defendants are restrained manufacturing, advertising or providing any kind of goods or services under the trademark 'Khadi'... Further, the defendants are directed to take down their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages under the mark tradename 'Khadi Design Council of India' and 'Miss India Khadi', and the infringing content from their websites being www.paridhaanam.com, www.kdci.org and www.missindiakhadi.in," the judge said in the recent order.
KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena welcomed the court order saying this would deter individuals and firms from illegally using brand name Khadi and luring people on false promises.
"The activities of 'Khadi Design Council of India' and 'Miss India Khadi' is a clear case of duping people using the name of 'Khadi'. These entities have no connection or affiliation with Khadi at all. Those who have been duped, must seek a refund and lodge complaint against these fraud entities," Saxena said.
It is pertinent to mention that KVIC, in recent times, has won several cases against violation of its trademark 'Khadi'. An arbitration tribunal in Delhi last month had said that 'Khadi' was not a generic name to be used by private individuals or firms while permanently restraining an individual from using the brand name 'Khadi'.
In March this year, the Delhi High Court had also restrained a firm from using brand name Khadi and the charkha symbol to sell its products under the name "IWEARKHADI".
The KVIC in the last few years has acted tough against such violators. So far, the KVIC has issued legal notices to over 1,000 private firms, including Fabindia, for misusing its brand name and selling products under the name of Khadi.
The KVIC has sought damages to the tune of Rs 500 crore from Fabindia which is pending before the Mumbai High Court.