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KSRTC v. KSRTC Trademark Battle !

KSRTC v. KSRTC Trademark Battle !

I was puzzled for a moment when I read about the trademark dispute over the mark KSRTC. Therefore I would like to share few information and my thoughts on the dispute.

The parties to the dispute are two state owned road transport services, which makes it a dispute between two states. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) which was established in the year 1953, providing public transport services within the state and outside, but till date haven't filed any trademark applications to register their brand name. Whereas Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) which started using the mark KSTRC since 1974 have applied for several trademark registrations.

Eventhough the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has filed several trademarks but none of them seems to be registered as evident from the details available from the trademark registry.

At this juncture the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) cannot initiate a court proceeding or even issue a letter seeking the Kerala government to change the name. Even if they do, the suit may be barred by acquiescence as they have allowed the mark to be used for over 20 years.

What the law says !
Unlike anyother law the law of Trademarks mandates the rule of use - the more you use a mark and make it distinctive, the better chances you have in securing and ultimately defending your mark. Trademark rights from use of a mark. At common law, the only way to obtain rights in a mark is through actual use.

The Supreme Court in the case of N.R. Dongre and Ors. v. Whirlpool Corporation and Ors. , that a passing off action can be brought by a prior user even against a registered holder of a trademark.

In Titan Industries Limited v/s Registrar Of Trade Marks And Anr.[2007 (34) PTC 346 IPAB] it has been held that "the well settled proposition of law in Trade Mark law is that the prior user of a trade mark has more valid rights in a mark than the registered proprietor".

There will be stacks of evidence available for the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to prove their use from early 70s and to oppose the applications of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

Final Word.

This is a dispute of pure misuse of the trademark law. Since both the mark are co existing for over 20 years, no court will order any party to stop using the mark KSRTC. Further no public rights is involved as services provided by the marks can be clearly distinguished by the other elements of identification of the buses and there is no chances of confusion. And here no party is riding over the good will of another therefore no action of passing off lies and since none of the partys have a registered trademark, no suit for infringement is possible. Therefore, what lies here as a dispute is nothing but a clear case of lack of understanding of trademark law.

If you have any queries, kindly contact us.

John Mathew & Associates
Advocates, Trademarks & Patent Attorneys
S-14 Empire Building, Old Railway Station Road,
Cochin, India - 682018
Tel. +91 484 2391374 , Fax. +91 484 2395205,
E-mail :

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