Suit filed against Serum Institute over use of ‘Covishield’ trademark

It claims that the company had applied for the trademark for their sanitisation products before SII applied for it.

Justice Court

Last Updated on January 20, 2021 by The Health Master

A Nanded-based pharma sales company has filed an injunction suit against the Serum Institute of India (SII) at the Commercial Court in Pune against use of the trademark ‘Covishield’ for its vaccine.

The pharma company claims that the company had applied for the trademark for their sanitisation products before SII applied for it. The Commercial Court in Pune issued a notice to SII on Tuesday, seeking its response to the injunction suit.

The suit has been filed by Cutis Biotech, a sole proprietorship concern headquartered in Nanded district, and is primarily a pharmaceutical and medicinal products sales company. The company had filed a similar suit at a court in Nanded on December 11 last year, which is pending.

The Covishield vaccine is the Indian variant of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford. Pune-headquartered Serum Institute of India has developed and manufactured Covishield under a licence granted by AstraZeneca and Oxford.

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Speaking about the injunction suit against SII, advocate Aditya Ashok Soni, the lawyer representing Cutis Biotech, told The Indian Express, “My client, a pharmaceutical and medicinal products selling company in Nanded, applied for the trademark Covishield on April 29 last year, after a thorough trademark search.

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The application is pending before the trademark office. Since May 30, my client started using the trademark Covishield for products like antiseptic and disinfectant liquid, sanitisers and surface decontaminants.

On December 7, my client came across the news that SII has applied to the Drug Controller General of India for immediate approval for a vaccine named Covishield in India. Subsequent to that, suppliers of my client started pulling back due to the name confusion.

We again conducted a trademark search and found that SII had applied for the same trademark on June 6 and also for some more names for their vaccine. Their application is also pending before the trademark office.”

He added, “Because our company had not just applied but also started using the trademark prior to SII applying for it, we have filed an injunction suit against them.

We have sought a perpetual injunction against the SII, restraining them from using the trademark Covishield or any other confusingly similar trademark.

The company has also sought that the SII be ordered and directed to pay them profit earned by using the name Covishield and be directed to withdraw the trademark registration application.

The suit in Pune court was submitted on Monday and the court has issued a notice to SII seeking its response on our case.”

When asked how Cutis Biotech started using the trademark prior to its registration application getting approved, Soni said, “There are no specific rules prohibiting the use of a specific trademark before its registration is approved.”

In its application to the Pune court, the company has said about the suit filed on December 11, “The defendant (SII) appeared before the court in Nanded on December 18, claiming it has no jurisdiction on the relief sought. The said civil suit is still pending before the Nanded court.”

When contacted, SII didn’t respond to The Indian Express’ questions on the case.

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