In trademark infringement suits involving well-known trademarks, one always expects the big corporation to win for obvious reasons – the trademark is well-known, goodwill and reputation acquired over the years and of course because they were able to make out a prima facie case. It wasn’t that easy for SONY (the well-known brand!) when they filed a suit against SONY Trade Links Pvt. Ltd. praying for permanent injunction. The Court in this case disallowed the suit on the grounds that the plaint wasn’t properly verified and that the persons who signed the Power of Attorney and the witnesses who deposed weren’t competent to do so. The Calcutta High Court seems to be setting an example here!

The issues that were framed were straight forward – Whether the defendant was wrongfully infringing the plaintiff’s trademark and it was a case of passing off; whether the plaintiff was entitled to the claims made in the plaint and what relief they were entitled to.

The Trademark infringement suit: Argument

The defendants argued that the suit wasn’t properly instituted and that the plaintiffs did not prove their case. Their arguments were based on these points:

  1. That the plaint was verified by the counsel for plaintiffs who claimed to have knowledge of facts of the company. However, a person competent to do so is only the principal officer of the company. Further, that there was no Board resolution authorising the counsel to verify the plaint on behalf of the company.
  1. That the plaintiffs had submitted 2 Power of Attorneys (POA) as exhibits A and B and they were inadmissible for the reason that the person signing it did not do so before the Notary Public at Japan. The defendants established that an executive from the company signed the POA but his agent took it to the notary public, and since the executive wasn’t present himself, the POA wasn’t valid. The same applied in case of the other POA.
  1. That the person who deposed as a witness to corroborate the contents of the exhibits wasn’t competent to do because the exhibits itself were inadmissible. Also, that the counsel who verified the plaint was not deposed as a witness.

The plaintiffs argued the technical defects in the plaint can be cured and cited a number of cases in support of this argument. Further, they also argued that the POA authorised the counsel itself to verify the plaint and that it wasn’t a defect as contended by the defendants.

The Court concurred with the arguments of the defendants. They specifically quoted Section 14 of the Notaries Act which states that a notification from the Central Government is essential when a notarial act done by a notary public of a country outside India is sought to be relied upon in a proceeding in India and that since no such notification was submitted, the exhibits A and B would be invalid. Further, that a person verifying a plaint can only be the Principal Officer or Director of the company and therefore verification by the counsel was improper.

Since the plaint itself was inadmissible, the Court did not go into the first issue of infringement and passing off of the trademark and finally, dismissed the suit.


This case would’ve probably been a cake walk had SONY been able to make out a prima facie case and establish that their goodwill and reputation is at stake if injunction is not granted. However, technical defects did not let them get that far. Though there aren’t any dates mentioned, some facts suggest that the case dates back to 1995. The matter was heard and decided in 2015 (almost 20 years later) and dismissed on grounds of technical defects. The Court has made is point by emphasizing on the importance of meeting documentary requirements. Most certainly a wake up call to all the lawyers and their clients wanting to approach the Courts!

This article has been authored by Nikita, an IP Law practitioner.

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