Madras HC Says Patanjali Exploited Public Fear, Slaps Rs 10 L Fine
The court confirmed the injunction earlier imposed on Patanjali from using the trademark and slapped a fine.
In what comes as a setback to yoga guru and businessman Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved, the Madras High Court on Thursday, 6 August, ruled against the company in connection to cases regarding the trademark 'Coronil'.
The court confirmed the injunction earlier imposed on Patanjali from using the trademark and slapped a fine of Rs 10 lakh for “chasing further profits by exploiting the fear and panic among the general public by projecting a cure for the coronavirus.”
The court had passed an interim junction last month in favour of Chennai-based Arudra Engineering Private Limited, which alleged that it had registered 'CORONIL-92 B' as per the Trademark rules, as an acid inhibitor product for industrial use. Despite having registered this in June 1993, the company stated that Patanjali had adopted the name for its ‘immunity booster’ in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Arudra, however, reportedly has a right over the trademark till 2027.
Considering that this information could have been easily obtained, the court penalised defendants Patanjali, which marketed the tablet and Divya Mandir Yog, which manufactured it, for the oversight.
"The defendants have invited this litigation on themselves. A simple check with the Trademarks Registry would have revealed that 'Coronil' is a registered trademark. If they had, and had still, with audacity used the name 'Coronil', then they deserve no consideration at all. They cannot assume they can bulldoze their way and infringe a registered trademark. They must realise there is no equity in trade and commerce. If they had not done a check with the Registry, then they are at fault. They cannot plead ignorance and innocence and seek indulgence from this Court. Either way, indulgence is refused," Justice Karthikeyan stated.
The court also mentioned the previous controversy where Coronil was projected as a ‘cure’ for COVID-19 till the Centre intervened in the matter.
"Insofar as costs are concerned, the defendants have repeatedly projected that they are a 10,000 crore company. However, they are still chasing further profits by exploiting the fear and panic among the general public by projecting a cure for the coronavirus, when actually their 'Coronil Tablet' is not a cure but rather an immunity booster for cough, cold and fever," stated the court. "The defendants must realize that there are organisations which are helping the people in this critical period without seeking recognition and it would only be appropriate that they are made to pay costs to them," the judge added.
The court directed that the defendants pay Rs 5 lakh to the Adyar Cancer Institute and Rs 5 lakh to the Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital by August 21. The two facilities were chosen as both offer treatments free of cost, without any claim to trademark, trade name, patent or design, with only service as its motto, said the court.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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