An aviation studies portal has been restrained from offering counterfeit ‘Vistara’ branded products by the Delhi High Court, which said that it posed security risks at airports as it is a distinctive Tata-SIA airline trademark in the airline industry.
The high court said that Pilot 18 Aviation Book Store, which operates the web portal www.pilot18.com, was not just selling products bearing the mark ‘Vistara’ but also products of various other airlines including Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India and this posed a serious security threat.
Justice Prathiba M Singh directed Pilot 18 to pay Rs 2 lakh as cost to the operator of Vistara Airlines within a month.
The court’s order came while deciding a suit filed by Tata SIA Airlines Ltd seeking to restrain the portal from using its trademarks and selling badges, name tags and other accessories, including mugs and baggage tags, bearing the mark ‘Vistara’ with an identical device mark/logo form.
The plaintiff said it came to know in February about ‘Vistara’ branded products on the website of the defendants as also on various e-commerce portals such as Amazon and Snapdeal.
Justice Singh took strong exception to the incorrect statement made by the portal that they have never used the trademark ‘Vistara’.
This constitutes perjury, the court said and noted that the portal had no remorse whatsoever while making the statement.
The portal owner was not only liable to be permanently injuncted from using the mark Vistara’ but are also liable to pay costs and damages.
“The mark Vistara is quite popular in India and has acquired a unique status. It is a distinctive mark that enjoys enormous goodwill and reputation in the airline, travel and tourism industry. Use of this mark, even in respect of unrelated services would create confusion and deception. It deserves to be declared as a ‘well-known mark’,” the court said and passed a decree in the favour of the airlines.
The airlines said the mark ‘Vistara’ is registered in India, Singapore, and various other jurisdictions.
It said the defendants are not only offering these products on their website, but also claim that they were supplying ‘Vistara’ branded aviation products to Vistara Airlines.
The portal, however, claimed that it had not used the trademark ‘Vistara’ and that the plaintiff had concocted a false story.
After perusing the report by the local commissioner, the court said it was clear that the portal was taking a false stand that they have not used the mark.
“The sale of so much merchandise with the names of various airlines is not only violative of the trademark rights of the respective parties, including the plaintiff, but also poses a serious threat owing to the fact that some unauthorised persons may try to seek entry into airports etc., on the basis of the counterfeit badges, labels, uniforms and other merchandise illegally bearing the trademarks of these airlines,” it said.
“Such a threat cannot be ignored by this court in the manner in which it is sought to be done by the defendants,” the court said.
It said the written statement given by portal is not only a misstatement but clearly constitutes misrepresentation to the court.
The court said that on the next date, September 12, it will consider if any further action is required to be taken in view of the false plea taken in the written statement and the apology that has been tendered.