Tue, 07 Feb 2023

New Delhi [India], December 7 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has put a stay on the release of the film under the title "AJINOMOTO" or any film bearing an identical or deceptively similar title following a lawsuit for trademark infringement by a Japanese company.

Justice Sanjeev Narula in an order passed on November 28, 2022, stated that "till the next date of hearing, Defendants shall not release the film under the title "AJINOMOTO" or any film bearing an identical or deceptively similar title/ name in any format i.e., cinema hall release, DVD/VCD release, release through OTT platforms, etc.

The Court while fixed the matter for December 12, 2022, also stated that on the view of the foregoing, Plaintiff/Japanese firm has made out a prima facie case in their favour, and the balance of convenience also lies in favour of the Plaintiff and against the Defendants/makers of the movie in case an ex-parte injunction is not granted, Plaintiff, shall suffer irreparable loss.

Ajinomoto, manufacturer of monosodium glutamate seasoning in Japan through a suit seeking permanent injunction restraining infringement of registered trademark "AJINOMOTO", passing off, unfair competition, delivery up, rendition of accounts, and damages, among other ancillary reliefs.

The suit stated that Plaintiff adopted and registered the trademark "AJI-NO-MOTO", primarily used for Monosodium Glutamate and is manufactured and marketed by Plaintiff worldwide.

The said trademark appears on other products manufactured by Plaintiff as well.

"AJI-NO-MOTO" was coined by Plaintiff's predecessor-in-title as a unique combination of words meaning "Essence of Taste" in Japanese.

The trademark "AJI-NO-MOTO" in Japanese characters was first registered in Japan in the year 1909 and subsequently, in English characters in the year 1964.

The suit further stated that the plaintiff entered the Indian market in the year 1954 with its MSG product bearing Plaintiff's trademark. Since then, Plaintiff operates its business in India through various subsidiaries and continues to be sold throughout India, to date. Plaintiff contends that it is a household name in the Indian market and AJI-NO-MOTO trademark is directly associated with Plaintiff.

Plaintiff's grievance arises from the title of an upcoming movie which uses Plaintiff's trademark "AJI-NO-MOTO". Plaintiff contends that the use of said title not only infringes its trademark rights, as the use is without authorisation, but is also disparaging and defaming as Mathiraj Iyamperumal has allegedly false public statements in relation to the Plaintiff's mark in the context of the film.

Sudhir Chandra, Senior Counsel for Plaintiff submitted that although the film has not been released and the contents thereof are not known to the public, however, it is blatantly clear that the storyline, as per the above statement, is conceived and fashioned metaphorically around the cooking ingredient which directly links to the Plaintiff.

Considering the wide outreach of films, and the manner in which the storyline is conceived, any negative portrayal is bound to severely prejudice Plaintiff's reputation in the market in respect of its products, added the lawyers.

The plaintiff in the matter was represented by Sudhir Chandra, Senior Advocate with Pravin Anand, Dhruv Anand, Udita Patro, Sampurna Sanyal and Nimrat Singh, Advocates.

Recently Tamil star Vijay Sethupathi released the first look and motion poster of director Mathiraj Iyamperumal's upcoming crime thriller 'Ajinomoto'. The film is said to be based on the concept of a slow poison that at first seems enticing but has serious repercussions in the long run. (ANI)

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