Delhi High Court prevents India Today Group from claiming monopoly over the term “TODAY”
The Delhi High Court in its decision dated February 19, 2014 rejected the interim application filed by Living Media Ltd known as INDIA TODAY GROUP, (Plaintiffs) seeking temporary injunction to restrain Alpha Dealcom (Defendant) from launching a news channel with the name “NATION TODAY”. The Court held that the plaintiffs have prima facie not been able to establish that the defendant’s mark “NATION TODAY” is either identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s mark “INDIA TODAY”. The plaintiffs argued that they are the trademark holders of several publications and news channels whose names include the term “TODAY” like “INDIA TODAY”, “BUSINESS TODAY”, “DESIGN TODAY”, “HEADLINES TODAY” to name a few. It was further argued by the Plaintiffs that the term “TODAY” and its variants have acquired secondary significance due to its continuous, honest and extensive use since 1975 and has also earned the status of “well known trademark”. The plaintiffs also contended that its mark “TODAY” and its variants have become distinctive of their goods and services. The Defendant on the other hand argued that the plaintiffs while seeking a registration for their mark “INDIA TODAY” had conceded before the Trademarks Registry that “INDIA TODAY” was dissimilar to the pre-existing trademark ‘PUNJAB TODAY’ and merely using the term ‘TODAY’ will not cause confusion or cause the competing mark to be similar to their own. The defendant further argued that nobody can be allowed to claim monopoly over a generic term and especially the term “TODAY” which is commonly used expression for a daily publication/news channel. However, the Hon’ble Court while agreeing with the contentions of the defendant held that at this interlocutory stage of the proceedings, the plaintiffs cannot be permitted to contend that there is a similarity between the marks 'INDIA TODAY' and 'NATION TODAY' when they have themselves conceded that there is no similarity between the marks “PUNJAB TODAY” and “INDIA TODAY”. The Court further observed that besides the mark “TODAY” being generic and commonly used word in respect of news channels/daily publications, the word 'INDIA' in the mark 'INDIA TODAY' is of a very small font as compared to the word 'TODAY' while the word 'TODAY' in the defendants' mark 'NATION TODAY' is of a much smaller font than the word 'NATION'. Hence, prima facie, there is no likelihood of any viewer of TV news channel getting misled into believing that the news channel 'NATION TODAY' is a part of 'INDIA TODAY GROUP', as apprehended by the plaintiffs. Hence, the interim application was dismissed. The present decision strengthens and re-affirms the settled principle of law that none can be permitted to claim monopoly over a generic word.