Amity International School, a name most of us are well acquainted with, recently filed a case against Amity International School! Confused? That’s exactly why the case was filed. Amity International School as we all know is operating out of multiple locations such as New Delhi, U.P., Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. In addition, there is Amity University and Amity Law School which belongs to the same group i.e. Amity Group of Education Institutions.
This case has been brought against one Amity International School, operating in Bharuch, Gujarat. The Amity Group stated that use of the word ‘AMITY’ in relation to education is a direct violation of their rights under the Trademark Act. Further, they stated that, such use is clearly with an intention to ride on the goodwill established by them. Amity Group has been continuously using and has registered its mark Amity since 1991. The Defendants stated that a school named ‘Amity School’ has been operational since 1986. Such school is being operated by a trust viz. Trustees of Gyanada Educational Trust, and this trust has an MOU with the trust operating the defendant school. Based on this MOU the defendant school claimed having prior rights. On May 30, 2014, the court granted an injunction in favour of the Plaintiff and restrained the defendants from using the word ‘Amity’ or any other deceptively similar mark in respect of educational services. However, such order was suspended in November 2014, as a result of an interlocutory application filed by the defendants.
Amity argued against the defendant stating that since the trust operating ‘Amity School’ and that operating ‘Amity International School’ is not one and the same and thus there can be no transfer of prior rights for the use of the word Amity.Further, it was brought to notice of the court that Amity School, Bharuch was not a party to the suit and thus such party having prior rights on the use of the word ‘AMITY’ holds no relevance. The Court admitted this argument and held that Trademark law is meant to protect not just the rights of the owners, but also to avoid any confusion from being caused amongst the public at large. The Court pointed out that the Defendant is relying on the prior rights of a third party who is not a party to this case, moreover, such third party too has no statutory right or claim over the mark AMITY since the word AMITY is not registered by them. Further, on viewing the Defendant’s website it is evident that emphasis has been placed on ‘AMITY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL’. Further, the use of the terms AMITY, INTERNATIONAL and SCHOOL in conjunction is a clear attempt to pass off as the Plaintiff’s school and thus, it a clear case of passing off. The Court restrained the Defendants from opening any new school by the name of ‘AMITY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL’ and stated that such injunction would come into force in the academic year 2019-2020 in order to avoid inconvenience to the current batch of students.
Compiled by: Adv. Sachi Kapoor | Concept & Edited by: Dr. Mohan Dewan
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.