The Bombay High Court on Tuesdayrefused to restrain Serum Institute of India Private Limitedfrom using the name Covishield for its vaccine againstCOVID-19 noting that such an order would create confusion anddisruption in the vaccine administration programme.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and C VBhadang dismissed an appeal filed by pharmaceutical firm CutisBiotech claiming trademark of the name Covishield andseeking a direction to Serum Institute of India to stop usingthe name for its COVID-19 vaccine.
The court in its order said it is now widely knownthat Covishield is a vaccine to counter coronavirus.
“A temporary injunction directing Serum Institute todiscontinue the use of mark Covishield for its vaccine willcause confusion and disruption in the vaccine administrationprogramme. In this case, thus, the grant of an injunctionwould have large-scale ramifications traversing beyond theparties to the suit,” the order said.
It said the Union government had rolled out anextensive vaccination drive and, as on March 16, 66 milliondoses of Covishield have been supplied to the Centre, whilesome 59 million doses have been supplied to 72 countries.
The bench added that the Union government had placed afurther order of 10 crore doses of Covishield.
“Serum Institute has, to date, made a sale amountingto Rs 37,507 lakh through the sale of Covishield vaccine. Withthese facts, the balance of convenience is not in favour ofCutis Biotech. Grant of injunction against Serum Institutewould have a serious impact on its business,” the court said.
The court, in its order, noted that neither CutisBiotech nor Serum Institute have a registration for thetrademark Covishield.
Cutis Biotech, a Nanded-based pharmaceutical productsselling firm, had based its case on the action of SerumInstitute passing off a product under the name which has beenused by it (Cutis Biotech) for its products in the past.
In April last year, Cutis Biotech filed an applicationbefore the concerned authority for registration of thetrademark Covishield.
The name was proposed for some Ayurvedic, Allopathic,medicinal and pharmaceutical products sold by the company.
Serum Institute counsel Birendra Saraf, while opposingthe plea, said on June 6, 2020 that the company applied forregistration of trademark Covishield for its vaccine againstcoronavirus but has been using the term since March last yearwhen it sought permission from the Union government to startclinical trials of the vaccine.
The court in its order said there is adequate evidenceto show prior adoption and use, but Serum Institute has alsocontinued its use (of the trademark) without a break, and,till date, the company had produced 60 million Covishieldvaccine doses per month, of which 48 million were supplied tothe Union government.
The bench further said that Serum Institute had coinedthe word Covishield and took substantial steps towards itsdevelopment and manufacture.
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