Home » What Are Some Important Cases and Provisions Regarding Well-Known Trademarks In India?

What Are Some Important Cases and Provisions Regarding Well-Known Trademarks In India?

Last week, we took a look into well-known trademarks and how they could be filed in India. This week, we are going to look into a few examples of well-known trademarks, as well as a few key legal provisions and judgements regarding well-known trademarks.

Some Examples of Well Known Trademarks

  1. The brand “Apple” for electronic devices is considered a well-known trademark. Any unauthorized use of the “Apple” mark in connection with unrelated goods or services, which may dilute its distinctive character or take unfair advantage of its reputation, can be legally challenged.
  2. The Coca-Cola Company is an example of a well-known trademark. Coca-Cola is recognized and associated with its beverages globally. Even though it is registered in specific classes for beverages, its protection extends to dissimilar goods or services to prevent unauthorized use or dilution of its distinctive brand.

Landmark Cases vis-a-vis Well-Known Trademarks

Several landmark cases have helped shape the legal framework for the protection of well-known trademarks. Here are brief summaries of two such cases:

  1. N.R. Dongre v. Whirlpool Corporation (1996):

In this case, the Supreme Court of India recognized the concept of well-known trademarks and affirmed their special protection. The court held that well-known trademarks are entitled to protection not only within the specific class of goods or services for which they are registered but also for dissimilar goods or services. This landmark judgment established the principle of cross-class protection for well-known trademarks in India.

  1. Daimler Benz Aktiengesellschaft v. Hybo Hindustan (1994):

This case involved the well-known trademark “Mercedes-Benz.” 

The court held that well-known trademarks are protected against any use that takes unfair advantage of their reputation or is detrimental to their distinctive character. The judgment emphasized the importance of safeguarding the goodwill and reputation of well-known trademarks from unauthorized usage or dilution.

Relevant Provisions of the Trade Marks Act

Section 2(1)(zg) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999: 

This Provision Defines a well-known trademark as a mark which  has become known to a greater segment of the public, which uses goods or services which are covered by the mark.

Section 11(6) of the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999:

This provision states that a trademark, even if not registered in India, may be considered well-known if it has acquired substantial goodwill in India. It further provides protection to well-known trademarks beyond the specific goods or services for which they are registered.

Section 29(4) of the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999:

This provision states that a registered trademark is infringed when it is used in such a manner that it takes unfair advantage of or is detrimental to the distinctive character or repute of a well-known trademark, regardless of whether the goods or services are similar or dissimilar.


Indian Trademarks Act, provides for  a strong legal foundation for the protection of well-known trademarks in India. They ensure that these marks receive the necessary safeguards against unauthorized use & maintain their distinctiveness & reputation in the marketplace.

Author: Rajitha Singh, Legal Intern at PA Legal.

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