Bombay High Court has held that in public interest, passing off in packaged drinking water should be dealt in a similar way as cases involving medicinal products, and a lesser burden of proof showing confusing similarity is required as against non-medicinal products.
It noted that the confusion is more likely in such cases to result in loss of life or other serious health problems.
The Court in Parle Agro (P) Ltd v. Shree Balaji Food & Beverages held that courts need to be vigilant since if water is contaminated or spurious product is introduced, it will cause harm and injury to general public. It also noted that the confusion amongst customers can have unpleasant if not disastrous results.
The defendants were appointed as franchisee by plaintiff from 13-03-2013 to 18-10-2017 to manufacture, fill, pack, sell and distribute packaged drinking water under the brand name Bailley in the specified territories. However, the defendants were called upon by the plaintiffs to cease the manufacture of products under its band name owing to the expiration of the defendant’s Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) license.
Plaintiff later found in news that defendants’ premises were raided by BIS and found to be in possession of packaged drinking water bearing plaintiff’s trademark Bailley.