The Supreme Court has declined to provide interim relief to Pernod Ricard India, the owner of the Blenders Pride whisky brand, in their trademark infringement case against United Spirits, the manufacturer of ‘Royal Challengers American Pride’ whisky. The dispute stems from allegations of trademark infringement over the use of the ‘Blenders Pride’ trademark.
In March 2023, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had rejected Pernod Ricard India’s application for interim relief in this matter. The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, cited that the High Court’s decision was related to an interlocutory application (IA) and chose not to intervene in this regard.
Despite denying interim relief, the Supreme Court directed the trial court in Mohali, where the trademark lawsuit is pending, to resolve the case within six months. The Supreme Court expressed concern over the prolonged duration of the case, noting that the lower court had yet to frame the issues for the trial. The bench emphasized the need for an expedited trial process and discouraged prolonged battles over interlocutory applications.
During the proceedings, there were lighthearted moments when discussions turned to whiskey brewing. Justice Kaul humorously acknowledged his lack of expertise in the subject matter, while a counsel for Pernod Ricard India mentioned that consumers were getting confused by the term “pride” and mistakenly buying their competitor’s bottle.
In this legal battle, Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram represented Pernod Ricard India Private Limited, while Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for United Spirits Limited.
Pernod Ricard India had initiated the case by filing an interlocutory application in the High Court to prevent United Spirits from selling products under the ‘Royal Challenger American Pride’ trademark. They argued that the ‘Blenders Pride’ trademark had been in use since its adoption by its predecessor, Seagrams Company Limited, in 1973, and had obtained registration in 1994. Meanwhile, United Spirits contended that the term ‘Pride’ was a common English word and could not be monopolized.
The High Court sided with United Spirits, stating that the use of the term ‘Pride’ did not create confusion or dilution in the minds of consumers. Consequently, the relief sought by Pernod Ricard India was denied, leading to their appeal to the Supreme Court.
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