Hilton loses trademark battle over title in India

Hilton loses trademark battle over title in India

New Delhi: Hilton International Corp., which owns the international chain Hilton Hotels and Resorts, lost a case in the Supreme Court on Monday, thereby losing the exclusive right over the ‘Hilton’ trademark in India.

Rajasthan-based hotel group ‘Hilltone’, against which Hilton International had filed the case, succeeded as it had been established and registered earlier in India. It can continue to use its name.

Hilton International’s special leave petition challenged an order of the Rajasthan High Court, which in April had rejected the New York-based entity’s appeal against Hilltone.

“On going through the impugned order, we find that the petitioners (Hilton International) have been adequately protected by the High Court. We, therefore, see no reason to interfere in the matter," an apex court bench of justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha said as they dismissed the case.

“The Supreme Court has adequately safeguarded our rights," said Pratibha Singh, counsel for the Rajasthan company.

Hilltone Hotel got an injunction from a district court in Sirohi after alleging that late billionaire Conrad Hilton’s hospitality group was trying to do business in India under a “deceptively similar name".

The district court had passed the order on a petition by Hotel Hilltone, founded in 1973 and based in Mount Abu, Rajasthan. Hilton International, founded in 1919, has over 500 hotels in 76 countries. It made its foray into India in 2007 in association with DLF Ltd.

An extract of the April 2010 district court judgement reported by the Hindustan Times says: “The defendant (Hilton International), in any state of India, may not use the registered trademark Hotel Hilltone of the plaintiff or any kind of sabotage in it by using any kind of misleading logo and mark. It may not use and enjoy by causing confusion of being plaintiff’s hotel and in collaboration with any other Indian establishment may not carry on business of hotels and food items under such duplicate trade mark."

The high court had upheld the order of the district court.

“I am of the opinion that judgement of the learned trial court is not required to be stayed because, admittedly, Hilltone Hotel is pursuing their business under the registration, which is made prior to the registration of the Hilton," Justice Gopal Krishna Vyas of the Jodhpur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court said in an order, according to The Indian Express.

Hilton International was yet to issue a statement at the time of this report.