T.I.M.E. v. Times

Settlement entered into between Plaintiff and TIME Inc. [22.04.2004, CS(OS) 1389/2003][1] has no relevance in present suit for infringement and passing off. Settlement Agreement cannot jettison phonetic similarity of marks qua a third party in another matter.

‘T.I.M.E.’ and ‘TIMES’ are phonetically identical. Letters in ‘T.I.M.E.’ are separated with dots. This is a trivial dissimilarity to overcome deceptive similarity of two words. ‘T.I.M.E.’ is an acronym, wholly unconnected with business of Plaintiff, and entitled to protection in law. A word, even if generic, if applied to a business with which the word is unrelated, is indeed to be protected. It is an acronym is immaterial [H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB v. HM Megabrands Pvt. Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine Del 9369].

Defendant has been unable to establish a prima facie case of ‘T.I.M.E.’ being common to trade. Defendant’s illustrations cannot inure to its advantage as most trademarks cited are in different classes and services are wholly unrelated to services rendered by Plaintiff. National Bell Co. v. Metal Goods MFG. Co. (P) Ltd., (1970) 3 SCC 665 held, proprietor of a trademark need not take action against infringement which does not cause prejudice to its distinctiveness. Also see, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. v. Reddy Pharmaceuticals Limited, 2004 SCC OnLine Del 668.

In this Court’s prima facie view, use of the word ‘TIMES’ by Defendant, for which it has no plausible explanation, is dishonest. Learned Counsel appearing on behalf of Defendant submitted, during pendency of suit, Defendant has adopted the trademark ‘FUTURE TIMES COACHING CENTRE’. Defendant is at liberty to run under any other trademark, including ‘FUTURE COACHING CENTRE’, without using the word ‘TIMES’.

Hon’ble Justice Jyoti Singh of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd. v. Times Coaching Centre, [CS(COMM) 60/2021] decided on 12.10.2022.

[1] Plaintiff changed its mark/logo from ‘TIME’ to ‘T.I.M.E. – TRIUMPHANT INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT EDUCATION’.