The Delhi High Court in the recent case of Starbucks Corporation v. LOL Cafe & Anr, (2022/DHC/004921) awarded Starbucks costs of litigation amounting to ? 13 lakh in a trademark infringement suit of its registered trademark ‘FRAPPUCCINO’. The Bench of Single Judge, Prathiba M. Singh, held that the defendant’s usage of the mark was malicious and intended to deceive consumers, hence, Starbucks was awarded Rs. 2 lakhs as damages.
The facts of the case were that Starbucks alleged in the High Court that a Jaipur-based café known as ‘LOL Cafe’ was engaged in infringement of its trademark registered as ‘FRAPPUCCINO’. The coffeehouse company alleged that the Jaipur-based cafe was engaged in the sale of a beverage called ‘Chocolate Chip Brownie Frappuccino’ without an authorized license or consent. Therefore, a permanent injunction is asked against the defendants (café) for the usage of the trademark, ‘FRAPPUCCINO’, either alone or with any prefix or suffix.
The Court dispensed summons to the defendants on 23rd August 2019 and passed an ad interim injunction that is ex parte in nature against them. Despite this, the defendants did not appear and submitted their written statements, as a result of which it proceeded ex-parte. The Court observed that Starbucks even used its mark ‘FRAPPUCCINO’ with a suffix which shows beverages with different flavours like ‘Java Chip Frappuccino’ and others. Thus, the Court concluded that the usage of the ‘FRAPPUCCINO’ mark by the defendants was unfair and deceitful to naive customers.
The plaintiff was a registered proprietor of the ‘Frappuccino’ mark which is evident from documents and plaint. Also, it was found by the Court that the defendants were using a mark, with the prefix ‘Brownie Chip’ with the registered mark of the plaintiff ‘Frappuccino’ intending to use the reputation and goodwill attached to the mark to deceive a customer.
The Court held that the adoption of the mark ‘Frappuccino’ by the defendants was dishonest and was intended to deceive a consumer as it amounted to infringement of the plaintiff’s trade mark and would also result in passing off the goods of the defendants as that of the plaintiffs. The Court placed its reliance on the Jail Café case and Tequila A Fashion Café case to reach the said conclusion. The Court further opined that in the Tequila A Fashion Café case, this Court awarded damages of Rs. 2,00,000 in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendant, similarly damages deserved to be awarded in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendant in the present case as well. Further, the Court also awarded legal fees of around Rs. 13 lakhs filed as an ‘Advocate Fee Certificate’ in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants.
Refer to the following case for more details - Starbucks Corporation v. LOL Cafe & Anr, (2022/DHC/004921]