Pune: Serum Institute files reply in suit regarding ‘Covishield’ trademark

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The Serum Institute of India (SII) Tuesday submitted its response to the suit filed by a Nanded-based firm, seeking injunction against the use of the trademark ‘Covishield’ for its vaccine.

Further arguments on the matter are scheduled on January 22.

The injunction was sought in the Commercial Court in Pune by Cutis Biotech, a pharmaceutical and medicinal products sales company. Cutis has claimed, in its suit filed on January 5, that they had applied for the trademark ‘Covishield’ for their various sanitisation products before the SII applying for it. The company had filed a similar suit at a court in Nanded on December 11 last year, which is pending.

Senior Advocate SK Jain, who is the attorney for SII, told The Indian Express, “Among the various points we have raised in the reply are those about the distinction in the products in question and our counter arguments to the timeline claimed by them. More importantly, we have informed the court that the plaintiff company has made a trademark application for a vaccine of the same name in December, when they do not even have the licence to develop a vaccine. This fact, as per our knowledge, has not been revealed to the court by the plaintiff in their application.”

The case is being heard by the Commercial Court presided over by Judge AV Rotte.

“The next hearing on the matter is scheduled on January 22, when we will present before the honourable court our arguments in reply to the injunction suit,” Jain said.

Advocate Aditya Ashok Soni, the lawyer representing Cutis Biotech, Tuesday argued for a temporary injunction against the use of trademark Covishield, till the suit is decided. Adv Soni argued that the present suit is maintainable inspite of another suit pending in a Nanded court, because the cause of action was different. He argued that his client was seeking relief under the Common Law because the issue pertains to unregistered trademarks. He also contended before the court, citing various previous judgements, that possible absence of intention on the part of SII does not take away their right to seek relief in such matters.

Cutis Biotech has said in its suit that it applied for the trademark Covishield on April 29 last year, after a thorough trademark search. The said application is pending before the trademark office.

Since May 30 last year, the company started using the said trademark Covishield for products like antiseptic and disinfectant liquid, sanitisers, surface decontaminants, etc. The plaintiffs have said that on December 7, they came across the news that SII had applied to the Drug Controller General of India for approval of a vaccine named Covishield. After this, the suppliers of the company started pulling back due to the name confusion, the suit says.

Cutis again conducted a trademark search and found that SII had applied for the trademark on June 6 and also for some more names, after which it approached the court in Nanded.

When asked about the point raised by the SII attorney about Cutis applying for vaccine trademark Covishield despite not having a licence, Soni said he will reply to that issue in the court in subsequent hearing.

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