Madras HC maintains injunction barring Patanjali from using term Coronil

Topics Madras HC | Patanjali | Coronavirus

The Order followed a petition filed by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, seeking vacation of an ex-parte interim injunction granted by the Court on July 17
The Madras High Court today refused to vacate an injunction restraining Patanjali from using the term Coronil to market its immunity-boosting tablets against Covid-19. Justice C V Karthikeyan of the High Court came down heavily on Patanjali in in his order today, for attempting to profit by exploiting the fear of Covid-19. He directed the firm to pay Rs 10 lakh towards costs to Cancer Institute, Adyar in Chennai and the Government Yoga & Naturopathy hospital.

The Order followed a petition filed by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, seeking vacation of an ex-parte interim injunction granted by the Court on July 17, restraining the company from using the term ‘Coronil’ for tablets marketed by it to boost immunity against Covid-19.

While refusing to vacate the injunction, Justice Karthikeyan today in his order said, "....the defendants (Patanjali Ayurved Limited and Divya Yog Mandir Trust) have repeatedly projected that they are a Rs 10,000-crore company. However, they are still chasing profits by exploiting the fear and panic among the general public (and) by projecting a cure for the Coronavirus, when actually their 'Coronil Tablet' is not a cure but rather an immunity-booster for cough, cold and fever. The defendants must realise that there are organisations which are helping the people in this critical period without seeking recognition and it would only be appropriate that they are made to pay costs to them."

"Accordingly, I hold that costs of Rs 5,00,000 (Rupees five lakh only) are to be paid jointly by the defendants (Patanjali Ayurved Limited and Divya Yog Mandir Trust) to the Dean, Adyar Cancer Institute (WIA), East Canal Bank Road, Adyar, Chennai, and further Rs 5,00,000 (Rupees five lakh only) is to be paid jointly by the defendants to the Dean, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College & Hospital, Arumbakkam, Chennai. In both the organisations, treatments are afforded free of cost without any claim to either trademark, trade name, patent or design, but only with service as a motto. Costs are to be paid on or before August 21, 2020, and a memo in this regard is to be filed before the Registry, High Court Madras, on or before August 25, 2020," the order said.

The development comes in a matter related to a trademark infringement filed by Arudra Engineers Private Limited. The firm had claimed that has been manufacturing chemicals named Coronil-213 SPL and Coronil-92B, used to clean industrial machinery, since 1993. The company said there had been press reports of yoga guru Baba Ramdev, associated with Patanjali, having made a false claim that Coronil Tablets were a cure for Covid-19. Such an act had caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the engineering company’s trademark, Arudra Engineers claimed.

Patanjali stated in its affidavit that it was a very successful consumer goods company whose revenues had risen from Rs 100 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 9,500 crore in 2018-19. The company suspected a larger conspiracy being hatched across the country to scuttle its business. It had been stated that more than Rs 100 crore had been spent in setting up state-of-the-art infrastructure to conduct research, in relation to ancient Indian knowledge of Ayurveda.

The company said multiple cases related to Coronil tablets were pending in the Uttarakhand High Court, the Rajasthan High Court, the Muzaffarpur district court in Bihar, a district court in Chandigarh, the New Delhi district court and also in Jaipur on the basis of unverified media reports.

The company said that if the Madras High Court did not vacate its injunction, a large number of people in the country would not be able to take advantage of the immunity booster tablets that had been formulated after huge investments on research.

Recently, Patanjali Ayurved said it is witnessing demand of around 10 lakh packs daily for its controversial COVID-19 immunity booster medicine Coronil, according to Yoga Guru Ramdev. Stressing that Patanjali Ayurved had priced it only at Rs 500, Ramdev said, "Had we put a higher price of even Rs 5,000, in this COVID-19 times, we could have easily earned up to Rs 5,000 crore from this. But we have not done so."

According to Patanjali, it was only marketing the ‘Coronil Tablets’ manufactured by the Divya Yog Mandir Trust which had not been made as a respondent to the civil suit despite the canisters clearly containing the name Divya Coronil Tablet.

The court was told that the Trust had commenced sale on July 1 after due intimation to the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, and after making an application for registering the mark ‘Coronil Tablet’ with the Trademarks Registry in New Delhi.

Patanjali argued that it was a common practice in the pharmaceutical industry to name a drug after an ailment, organ or medical compound, Patanjali said the adoption of the mark Coronil was bona fide since the tablets were being marketed as immunity booster against coronavirus.

Pointing out that its market, class of customers and mode of purchase of goods was completely different compared to that of the plaintiff company with not even a single point of interjection, Patanjali said, “it is beyond comprehension as to how the suit is maintainable at all.”

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