Yezdi trademark does not belong to Boman Irani and Classic Legends, says High Court of Karnataka

A file photo of the 20th International Jawa Yezdi Day celebrations by Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Club, at St. Joseph’s Indian High School ground in Bengaluru on July 10, 2022.

A file photo of the 20th International Jawa Yezdi Day celebrations by Bangalore Jawa Yezdi Motorcycle Club, at St. Joseph’s Indian High School ground in Bengaluru on July 10, 2022.

The High Court of Karnataka has restrained Boman R. Irani of Rustomjee Group, and Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd., incorporated by Mr. Irani and Mahindra & Mahindra, and any others from using the trademark ‘Yezdi’ or any other mark containing the word ‘Yezdi’ as a word or a device, whether independently or in conjunction with other words, including all domain names which use the word or mark ‘Yezdi’.

Declaring that Ideal Jawa (India) Ltd., which is under liquidation, is the owner of ‘Yezdi’ (word and device) taken independently or in conjunction with other words, the court said that the trademarks of the company remain in custodia legis of the court as it is dealing with the liquidation proceedings, initiated in 1991 through the Official Liquidator (OL).

The court declared as null and void all trademark, registration certificates issued by Registrar of Trademarks, Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad in favour of Boman Irani and directed the Trademark Registration Authority to transfer all such registrations to Ideal Jawa through the OL.

Justice S.R. Krishna Kumar passed the order recently while allowing applications filed by the OL and the Ideal Jawa Employees’ Association questioning the grant of ‘Yezdi’ to Boman Irani.

Order In abeyance for 1 month

However, the court kept this order in abeyance for one month for the limited purpose of enabling aggrieved parties to challenge it before the appellate forum.

‘In bad faith’

“Mr. Irani could not have obtained registration of ‘Yezdi’ during the process of winding up. The conduct of Mr. Irani in obtaining registration of the marks is in bad faith and amounts to misappropriation of the assets of the company,” the court observed while pointing out that Ideal Jawa has not lost its right over the trademark by not renewing it, as the company is under liquidation.

Liability

The court said that Mr. Boman Irani and Classic Legends are liable to account and pay to ideal Jawa for all the gains made from use of the trademark and directed them to provide to the OL all details of the sales and earnings from the use of ‘Yezdi’ in any form whatsoever.

The OL, the court said, should appoint a reputed firm of chartered accountants to determine the benefit that has accrued to Boman Irani and Classic Legends from the use of the trademark.

Besides, the court directed Boman Irani and Classic Legends to pay a cost of ₹10 lakh each to the OL.

On the other hand, the court permitted the OL to sell all trademarks and such other associated rights in and over the trademarks with all goodwill associated with the mark owned by Ideal Jawa by public auction after proper valuation of the trademarks.

Background

Boman Irani had got ‘Yezdi’ trademark registered in his favour during 2013-15. Classic Legends was incorporated in 2015, and Boman Irani is one of its directors.

Classic Legends launched a new motorcycle under ‘Yezdi’ brand name in the market in January 2022.

It was contended in court that Boman Irani’s father Rustom S. Irani, who had started Ideal Jawa, owned ‘Yezdi’ name, and hence the mark was acquired by his son after his demise. Boman Irani argued that Ideal Jawa had abandoned the trademark by not renewing it, and hence it was open to anyone to register ‘Yezdi’ before the trademark authority.

However, the court rejected these claims and said that it was the company, Ideal Jawa, which owned the trademark and not Rustom Irani, and Ideal Jawa had not abandoned its trademarks.

The court observed that Boman Irani did not bring the fact of pendency of winding up process to the notice of the registrar of trademarks, and the registrar had not issued a notice to Ideal Jawa before removing the mark from its ownership.

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