The case of Mankind Pharma Limited v. Novakind Bio Sciences Private Limited brought to light the significance of maintaining distinctiveness in medicinal branding.
Mankind vs Novakind
Court’s Emphasis on Preventing Confusion
The court’s emphasis on averting any semblance of confusion emerged as a central theme in the case.
The judgment was rendered in response to Mankind Pharma’s pursuit of a permanent injunction against Novakind Bio Sciences to restrain the latter from utilizing the term ‘Kind‘ in their medicinal and pharmaceutical products.
Justice C. Hari Shankar, presiding over the case, noted that the determination of whether distinct medicines are deceptively similar should be assessed from the perspective of an average-intelligence consumer with imperfect recollection.
Medicine Branding and Consumer Perception
Justice Shankar aptly highlighted that the existence of inadequately managed pharmacies, often operated by unqualified individuals, remains a regrettable reality in India.
These less-than-qualified medical practitioners, sometimes lacking formal medical degrees, frequently serve the needs of the less privileged population, who may not have access to higher-end healthcare services.
This demographic relies on such establishments for medical advice and prescriptions.
It’s concerning that some of these practitioners base their prescriptions on the manufacturer of the medicine, which underscores the potential impact of branding and labeling on consumer perception.
Judicial Intervention in Medicine Branding Protection
The legal proceedings originated from an ex parte interim injunction granted against Novakind on April 21, 2021.
This year, Novakind sought to have the injunction lifted, asserting that Mankind Pharma lacked registration for the ‘Kind’ mark and therefore could not claim exclusive rights over it.
However, the court highlighted that Mankind Pharma holds registrations for the ‘Mankind’ mark across all relevant categories.
Additionally, the court found the phonetic and deceptive similarity between ‘Mankind‘ and ‘Novakind,’ given their shared suffix, significant.
Consequently, Novakind’s argument that ‘Kind‘ was not specifically registered was dismissed.
Risk of Confusion and Trademark Infringement
The court delved into the concept that the ‘KIND‘ suffix is not intrinsically linked to pharmaceutical products.
This opened the door to the possibility that an average consumer with imperfect recollection might associate Novakind’s products with the ‘KIND’ family of marks belonging to Mankind Pharma.
The court maintained that even the slightest prospect of such an association could suffice to establish trademark infringement.
This nuanced observation underscores the court’s vigilance in upholding distinctiveness within the pharmaceutical market.
Medical Professionals’ Perspective
Justice Shankar responded to Novakind’s claim that medical professionals are knowledgeable about their roles and unlikely to be influenced by branding similarities.
The court rebutted this notion by highlighting that even qualified physicians and chemists could experience confusion due to the shared ‘Kind‘ suffix.
The guiding principle remains that, particularly concerning medications, any potential for confusion must be averted, and prescription drugs in particular must be unmistakably distinguishable from one another.
In light of the aforementioned considerations, the court solidified the interim injunction, rendering it permanent.
Representation and Conclusion
Senior Attorney Amit Sibal and Attorneys Hemant Daswai, Saumya Bajpai, Rishabh Sharma, and J. Dhindra defended Mankind Pharma.
On the opposing side, Advocate Sushant Mahapatra stood for Novakind Bio Sciences.
This verdict underscores the Delhi High Court’s commitment to maintaining clear demarcation within the pharmaceutical industry, safeguarding consumers and companies alike from potential confusion.
Disclaimer: This article contains information derived from the source mentioned below. Our team utilized an AI language model to rewrite and present the news or article in a unique format.
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