Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Delhi High Court’s Order on ‘Sharbat Dil Afza’ Sales Amid Trademark Dispute

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In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India has dismissed a plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s order that restrained the manufacture and sale of the sweet beverage concentrate known as ‘Sharbat Dil Afza’ during the pendency of a trademark infringement lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Hamdard Dawakhana, which sells a similar product called ‘Rooh Afza’.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud refused to interfere with the high court’s order, which was dated December 21, 2022. The bench, which also included Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, emphasized the well-established brand of ‘Rooh Afza’ and the potential confusion caused by the similar-sounding name of ‘Dil Afza’. The court stated, “You were selling some kind of medicine and suddenly you start drinks with similar-sounding names. We will not interfere. Dismissed.”

The high court had initially restrained the manufacture and sale of ‘Dil Afza’ after Hamdard Dawakhana claimed trademark infringement. The court acknowledged that ‘Rooh Afza’ had served as a distinctive identifier for Hamdard for over a century and had acquired significant goodwill. Therefore, it was essential to ensure that competitors maintained a safe distance from the mark.

The high court also observed that both products had a similar deep red color and texture, and the structure of the bottles was not materially different. As a result, the court opined that the impugned trademark created a deceptive similarity to Hamdard’s trademark.

Hamdard appealed against a single judge’s order that had refused to pass an interim order restraining the manufacturer of ‘Dil Afza’, Sadar Laboratories, from allegedly engaging in trademark infringement. However, the Supreme Court upheld the high court’s decision, highlighting the importance of protecting established brands and preventing confusion among consumers.

This ruling by the Supreme Court reinforces the significance of trademark protection and preventing unfair competition in the market. It serves as a reminder to businesses about the potential consequences of infringing upon established trademarks and the need to respect intellectual property rights. The case also underscores the importance of distinct branding and the potential impact on consumer perception when products with similar names and appearances are introduced into the market.

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