THE HOGWARTS KAFÉ: FAN RESTAURANT OR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT?
Recently, in the case of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. Mr. Ishant Kashiwal Trading As The Hogwarts Kafe & Ors., the Delhi High Court granted an ex parte ad interim injunction in favour of the Plaintiff restraining the Defendant from using the marks “THE HOGWARTS KAFE '' or “THE WIZARDING WORLD”.
The Plaintiff alleged trademark infringement, passing off and unfair competition stating that they are a global leader in all forms of entertainment and their related businesses across all media platforms and also that they are the brand licensing and broadcasting authority and the prior adopter, user and registered proprietor of the well-known Trademarks “HOGWARTS” and “HARRY POTTER” in respect of various goods and services. They also claimed that they have been using the stated marks globally since 1997. In addition, the Plaintiff claimed to be the proprietor of the mark “THE WIZARDING WORLD” Properties and stated that they have been using this mark since 2000.
The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant had dishonestly adopted the mark “THE HOGWARTS KAFE” which was identical with their mark “HOGWARTS”, a key element of “THE WIZARDING WORLD” Properties. The Plaintiff also stated that this was a blatant infringement of its intellectual property rights and that the Defendant was attempting to ride on the coattails of their goodwill and reputation. The Plaintiff pointed out that the Defendant was using pictures/photos of The Wizarding World Properties in their restaurant.
Finding a prima facie case in favour of the Plaintiff, the Court directed the Defendant to remove their advertisements and listings from third party websites, including food delivery apps such as Zomato and Dineout and social media websites including Facebook and YouTube. The Court refrained the Defendant from using the “HOGWARTS” and “THE WIZARDING WORLD” marks till the next hearing.
This case is a classic example of trademark infringement where defendants attempt to ride on the prestigious goodwill of well-known brands. Although the owner of the café may have been a Harry Potter fan, any such attempt to infringe trademark rights should be prohibited at all costs. Brands and organisations operating at such a scale have to be vigilant across jurisdictions to ensure protection of their intellectual properties.