Bombay High Court orders Jin-X to stop imitating Marico’s hair oil brand

The Bombay High Court has directed Mumbai-based Jin-X Healthcare Pvt Ltd to change the colour scheme of its coconut oil brand along with its name, coming as a relief to Marico Ltd, and also restrained it from using any shades of blue for its packaging to protect the hair care brand ‘Parachute’.

“The defendants (Jin-X) are marketing their goods under a deceptively-similar mark with the help of a trade dress which is a colour imitation of the plaintiff's (Maricopa) packaging,” observed Justice SJ Kathawala, while passing an order in favour of the Harsh Mariwala-owned company.

Marico, which counts PremjiInvest as a shareholder, had approached the court on July 7, 2016 claiming that Jin-X, which is known for its deodorants of the same name is also in the breach of an earlier court order. Last year in September, giving interim relief to Marico, which also owns edible oil brand Saffola, the court had ordered the defendants to stop manufacturing and selling the copycat brand.

However, Marico argued that the even after agreeing to change its packaging and colour in an out-of-court settlement, the company had dropped merely its similar sounding name 'Parajet’ but it was still selling its hair oil in identical colour scheme and shape.

Marico had accused Jin-X of “passing off”. As per the intellectual property rights laws, "passing off" refers to making a false representation that is likely to induce consumers to believe that the goods or services are those of another.

“Parachute is the flagship mother brand of the company and what Marico did here is active brand protection,” says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. “As Indian companies achieve scale and brand-traction, I see many domestic companies will prefer to fight to protect their brands against any passing off to counter those who are trying to piggyback on someone else’s brand.”

An email query to Marico Ltd as well as Jin-X Healthcare did not elicit any response.

According to the company's investor presentation of February 2016, Marico is the only company with a national presence in the Rs 45 billion (around $738 million) branded coconut oil market with a 57% market share. While, the same report claims that Parachute brand is the market leader with a 48% share.

“I am satisfied at least prima facie that not only are the defendants guilty of breaching the orders passed by this court but they continue to market their goods under a deceptively-similar mark with the help of a trade dress which is a colour imitation of the plaintiff's packaging,” said the judge while passing an order in favour of Marico.

In the order, the judge directed Jin-X to restrain in any manner from manufacturing, marketing, selling and/or using in relation to their coconut hair oil, edible coconut oil and other like goods to have any similarities from Parachute.

Also, the court directed the respondent to pay Rs 1 lakh legal cost to petitioners. However later, both parties agreed that the costs will be donated by the defendants to Aseema Charitable Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO which provides education to children living on the streets.

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