While Toyota is celebrating 20 years of Hybrid Leadership with the Prius, the company just lost the exclusive rights to use the famed trademark in India.
If you’re wondering, Toyota was in a legal battle with Haryana-based ‘Prius Auto Industries’ since 2009 against the latter’s use of ‘Prius’ trademark in India.
The Supreme Court observed that although the Prius was globally launched back in 1997, it was not registered in India. The ‘Prius Auto Industries’ on the other hand registered the name in 2001, and Toyota launched the Prius in India only in 2010.
Toyota argued that it was the first company in the world to register the name ‘Prius’ back in 1990 in Japan, and it is a globally renowned trademark, citing advertisements and news reports. However, Prius Auto Industries argued that it has built up a significant market reputation over a period of time, and were operating even before the model was sold in India.
Also, the apex court criticised the plaintiff’s delay in filing litigation, as the lawsuit was filed only in 2009, just before the Prius was launched in India.
“We cannot help but also to observe that in the present case the plaintiff’s delayed approach to the Courts has remained unexplained. Such delay cannot be allowed to work to the prejudice of the defendants who had kept on using its registered mark to market its goods during the inordinately long period of silence maintained by the plaintiff.”
Full judgement below –
This is not the first time a major automaker has lost its renowned trademark in India. Previously, Ford had lost the ‘Everest’ trademark to a spices maker, while Audi had lost the TT trademark to a garment company. The most recent one was Skoda, who lost the Monte Carlo trademark to a garment company.
But one thing for sure, fighting with these giant brands, the lesser-known brands have got what they always craved for 😉
As for the Toyota’s case, i strongly believe the Japanese giant shouldn’t have bothered filing a lawsuit at all.