The Delhi High Court has awarded punitive damages of Rs. Twenty Lakhs to famous French designer company Christian Louboutin for infringement of trademark of its world famous ‘Red Sole’ design . ‘Red Sole’ is a signature design by Christian Louboutin for high-end stilettos, which has shiny, red-lacquered soles and has found favour with a lot of celebrities. The distribution of its products are through a limited authorized distribution network, including high-end departmental stores, and there are more than 120 Christian Louboutin shops around the world. In India, he has two stores, one in Mumbai and the other in Delhi.
On finding that two dealers in footwear in Kamla Nagar,Delhi, were using ‘ Red Sole ’ design for the footwear marketed by them, the French company instituted infringement suit in the Delhi High Court seeking prohibitory injunction and damages.
In the suit which proceeded ex parte, Justice Yogesh Khanna held that the plaintiff has proved that the defendants’ adoption and using of counterfeit registered trademark, trade dress, deceptively similar domain name, unequivocally amounts to the infringement of the plaintiffs registered domain name, trademark, trade dress etc and amounts to passing of their goods. As standard of proof, the principle settled by Supreme Court in Kaviraj Pandit Durga Dutt Sharma vs Navarattana Pharmaceutical Lab. AIR 1965 SC 980 that “if the defendant‟s mark is closely, visually and phonetically similar, then no further proof is necessary” .
On the basis of the findings, the court decreed the suit. It was further held that the plaintiffs suffered immense loss to goodwill and reputation and hence are entitled to a grant of damages not only in terms of compensatory damages but also in the form of punitive damages.
“Under the given facts and circumstances of this case where the defendants reclused themselves from the proceedings, cannot be permitted to enjoy the benefits of evasion or covert priorities as has been using the domain websites and have been infringing the plaintiffs trademark certainly makes the defendants liable to pay the damages to the plaintiffs. Hence, decree for a sum of 20.00 Lac in favour of the plaintiffs and against defendants, is also passed on account of infringing the registered marks, trade dress and violating interim order”, ordered the Court, following the principles of punitive damages stated in the precedents Hindustan Unilever Limited vs. Reckitt Benckiser, 207(2014) DLT 713(DB) and Jockey International Inc & Anr vs. R. Chandra Mohan & Ors 211 (2014) DLT 757
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