The Delhi High Court has permanently restrained the owner of a confectionary under the name ‘Facebake’ from using any mark which is deceptively similar to that of social media company Meta Platforms, Inc’s ‘Facebook’ mark.
Justice Navin Chawla, while dealing with a lawsuit by Meta, said that ‘Facebook’ is a well-known trademark in the country and the overall visual representation adopted by the defendant, Noufel Malol the owner of Facebake, depicted the mala fide intent in obtaining unfair advantage.
The judge noted that the use of a mark similar to ‘Facebook’ can lead to an unwary consumer being at least interested in taking note of the defendant as having some kind of connection with the plaintiff and the mala fide intent of the defendant was also evident from the fact that after an interim injunction was passed against the use of ‘Facebake’, the defendant changed the mark to ‘Facecake’ and chose not to defend the suit.
In the present case, though there is some distinction between the marks of the plaintiff and the defendants, the overall visual representation adopted by the defendants, clearly depicts the mala fide intent of the defendants in obtaining unfair advantage by the use of the mark similar to that of the plaintiff and also leads to the dilution of the mark of the plaintiff. It can lead to an unwary consumer being at least interested in taking note of the defendants as having some kind of connection with the plaintiff, said the court in its order dated July 6.
The court permanently restrained the defendant, its subsidiaries, affiliates as well as anyone acting for or on its behalf from using the ‘Facebake’ marks, the domain name and email address containing the word ‘Facebake’ , the mark ‘Facecake’, Facebook’s visual presentation and any other deceptively similar mark concerning its products and services. The court also awarded damages of 50,000 to the plaintiff and against the defendant.
It cannot seriously be disputed that the marks of the plaintiff are well-known in India. Its user base and its reach are evident from the documents that have been filed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff also has obtained registrations of its marks for various classes of goods and the use of a similar mark without due cause would certainly amount to unfair competition, which is detrimental to the distinct character and reputation of the plaintiff’s ‘Facebook’ marks, the court said.
The plaintiff told the court that it was aggrieved by the adoption of the mark ‘Facebake’ by the defendant, which mimicked the visual presentation of ‘Facebook’ by copying the colour scheme, font, commercial impression, and overall look and feel. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was intentionally trading off the significant goodwill of the ‘Facebook’ marks and infringing its statutory as well as common law rights.