BMW AG v Om Balajee Automobile (India pvt. Ltd

High Court of Delhi

Case No: CS (COMM) 292/0217 – 23 March 2020

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a German automobile company, and is known for manufacturing and selling cars and motorcycles under the brand name BMW.  BMW has been selling automobiles in the Indian market since 1987 and their trade mark rights go back as far as 1956.  Balajee Automobile is a manufacturer and trader of electric automobiles, such as E-rickshaws and has been trading under the brand DMW since 2013.  BMW objected to this and claimed use of the DMW name “appears to be a dishonest act with an intention of trying to take advantage of the reputation and goodwill” of BMW.  Balajee Automobile argued that they registered their DMW trade mark in 2013 and the objection should not count as BMW had taken four years to file an objection. However, this argument was rejected by the court.  Use of common English letters in a way such as BMW, together with the global reputation made a strong argument in BMW’s favour.  The court agreed that the DMW logo was visually and phonetically similar to BMW’s logo, and “is likely to mislead an average man of ordinary intelligence.”  Balajee Automobile has been ordered by the Court in India to restrain from “manufacturing, exporting, importing or offering for sale, advertising or in any manner dealing with goods not limited to e-rickshaws bearing the mark DMW or any other mark which are identical or deceptively similar to the BMW marks.”

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