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Business News/ News / India/  Delhi High Court grants interim relief to Sun Pharma in ‘Abzorb’ trademark case
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Delhi High Court grants interim relief to Sun Pharma in ‘Abzorb’ trademark case

The pharma giant has accused Protrition Products of copying its registered trademark ‘Abzorb’ for its whey-protein product called ‘Abbzorb Nutrition’

Protrition Products contended that Sun Pharma's brand Abzorb should not have been granted registration as it was a mere variant of the common English word ‘absorb’ (Photo: Hemant Mishra)Premium
Protrition Products contended that Sun Pharma's brand Abzorb should not have been granted registration as it was a mere variant of the common English word ‘absorb’ (Photo: Hemant Mishra)

The Delhi High Court has granted interim relief to pharmaceutical giant Sun Pharma in a trademark-infringement case against Delhi-based nutritional-supplement company Protrition Products LLP.

The court issued a restraining order last Friday against Protrition Products, prohibiting it from manufacturing, selling, advertising or dealing in goods with the brand name ‘Abbzorb’ until the lawsuit is resolved. The court noted that its observations were prima facie, and that the interim order would not affect the proceedings of the case.

Sun Pharma has accused Protrition Products of copying its registered trademark ‘Abzorb’ for its whey-protein product called ‘Abbzorb Nutrition’. Sun Pharma, which manufactures and sells anti-fungal pharmaceutical products under trademarks such as Abzorb, Abzorbec and Abzorb Sydnet, asserted its right to use its registered trademarks for the goods in the class for which they were registered. In its order, the court observed that the two names were phonetically identical and could confuse consumers.

In response, Protrition Products contended that Sun Pharma's brand Abzorb should not have been granted registration as it was a mere variant of the common English word ‘absorb’. It also raised questions about the uniqueness and distinctiveness of Sun Pharma's mark, and argued that any confusion between the two products would be more significant if consumers mistakenly used an anti-fungal preparation in place of whey protein, instead of the other way around.

Protrition Products also highlighted the stark price difference between the two products, asserting that they catered to different customer segments, and argued that the price discrepancy would prevent confusion in the market. However, the court rejected these claims and found the dispute prima facie to be a case of trademark infringement.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Sun Pharma are increasingly taking legal action over trademark infringement. In August the Delhi High Court ruled against Sun Pharma in a trademark-infringement case against Finecure Pharmaceuticals Limited concerning its anti-acidity drug Pantocid. The same month, the court ruled in favor of Sun Pharma in another case, granting it costs amounting to 5 lakh in a trademark-infringement suit related to its registered mark ‘Oxiplat’, which is named after one of its drug preparations. In December 2022, the court fined Sun Pharma 10 lakh for concealing facts in a case against DWD Pharmaceuticals Ltd relating to the 'Forzest’ trademark.

According to experts, clear and differentiated brand names are especially important in the pharmaceutical industry as similar-sounding names could put the health and safety of consumers at risk. Pharmaceutical companies often seek to use words associated with therapeutic effects or raw materials as trademarks to enhance their marketing efforts and boost consumer awareness and intent to purchase. However, obtaining registration for such marks can be challenging. This leads to frequent conflicts among pharma companies as they compete to create new brands from a limited pool of generic names.

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Published: 28 Nov 2023, 10:41 AM IST
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