HC tells Godfrey Phillips to stop using word ‘Flake’ on packaging

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 29, 2020

The Bombay High Court has told Godfrey Phillips (India) to stop manufacturing, distributing or selling its cigarette brand that may contain the word ‘Flake’ on the packaging. The order comes on the back of a plea by rival cigarette maker ITC alleging that Godfrey Phillips (GPI) had infringed its copyright and trademark by using the word ‘Flake’ on the packaging of its ‘Select’ brand of cigarettes.

ITC had argued that use of the words ‘Flake Premium’ below GPI’s ‘Select’ brand was similar to ‘Flake Refined Taste’ being used by the Kolkata-based cigarette maker. GPI had argued that the word ‘Flake’ was being used by different players in the industry and its ownership cannot be claimed by any entity. However, Justice BP Colabawalla ruled that every intelligent violator of copyright will introduce subtle changes to claim non-infringement of copyright. “Prima facie, it appears that launch of the defendant’s (Godfrey Philips’) impugned (SELECT) pack in the same market with a strikingly similar artistic label is itself indicative of the defendant’s ill-intent,” said the judge.

The battle between ITC and Godfrey Phillips over brand issues is not new. In 2009, ITC had filed a patent & trademark suit in the Calcutta High Court against Godfrey Phillips India alleging that it had infringed the trade name Pilot. ITC claimed it had registered brand Pilot much earlier. GPI had then launched a brand called Pilot No 1.

In 2010, after the launch of Sunflake Gold by GPI, ITC had filed a petition against Godfrey alleging the packaging, price and size of Sunflake Gold cigarettes were similar to its product — Wills Flake Excel launched in April 2009.

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Published on July 29, 2020
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