The Madras High Court adjudged France-based Carrefour as the legal owner of the registered trademark Carrefour. Justice V Ramasubramanian allowed applications from the French retailer for granting an interim injunction, restraining the respondents – V Subburaman, Ayesha Anjum, S Munir Ahmad and Carrefour House of Interiors, all based in Chennai – from using the trademark Carrefour, ruling that the applicant would suffer irreparable injury if injunction was refused.
The company claimed a right over the said trademark by virtue of its use from 1960 in France, where its first store was opened on April 8, 1960. It said it was the second largest retailer in the world with a network of 7,000 stores and having a sales turnover of €94 billion. It had secured 2,500 registrations/applications for its trademark in about 80 countries.
The firm contended that the respondents had no dispute about the fact that the word Carrefour was a French word meaning ‘crossroad’. The respondents claimed to be user of the name only from 2000.
Registration of trade name Carrefour secured by the applicant in India dated back to January 1995. The respondents started adopting the mark only in July 2000. Hence, they had failed to pass the test of “honesty in adoption”.
The judge held that the vested rights of a prior user of a trademark were protected by Section 34 of Trade Marks Act, 1999, from interference by a registered subsequent user.