The Bombay High Court granted ad-interim relief to the applicant and restrained the defendants from using the mark “Yokoso SIzzlers” or any other trademark identical with or deceptively similar to applicant’s (plaintiff's) registered trademark “Yoko Sizzlers”.

The Bench of Justice Manish Pitale observed that “Merely because Yoko and Yokoso have different meanings in Japanese language, it would not amount to dissimilarity of the marks in question. Therefore, it is found that a strong prima facie case is made out on behalf of the plaintiff, for granting ad-interim relief.”

Advocate Rashmin Khandekar appeared for the applicant.

The application was preferred by the plaintiff wherein order of injunction was sought, restraining the defendant from using the trademark ‘Yokoso Sizzler’ or any other trademark identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiff's registered trademark ‘Yoko Sizzlers’.

The plaintiff had been operating in the hospitality business since 1986 and had adopted the aforesaid trademark in the year 1986 and got it registered in the year 1994. The plaintiff had registration in two classes i.e. class 30 and class 42 and was running outlets all over the country and had presence in the form of its outlets, internationally in various countries like UAE, UK and Qatar.

In August 2022, the plaintiff came across the restaurant of defendant at Pune using the impugned trademark ‘Yokoso Sizzlers’. Cease and desist notice was issued calling upon the defendant to stop using the impugned mark ‘Yokoso Sizzlers’. To the said notice, defendant claimed that there was no similarity. Thereafter, plaintiff approached the High Court

The Court observed that sufficient material was placed on record by the applicant to show the presence of the brand and trademark ‘Yoko Sizzlers’ in the public domain for considerable period of time and also to indicate the large-scale presence of the plaintiff in this country and also internationally.

The Court noted that it was an undisputable fact that the plaintiff had registered the trademark Yoko Sizzlers in 1994 and bare comparison between the two marks would show that the defendant had added the alphabet ‘SO’ to plaintiff’s registered trademark.

The Court also noted that the defendant had not only used the deceptively similar mark for its restaurant, but other aspects of the brand of the plaintiff i.e. layout of the restaurant and table mats used therein was also similar.

Consequently, the Court observed that these similarities in other aspects indicated the efforts on the part of the defendant to copy the business practices of the plaintiff, associated with the registered trademark ‘Yoko Sizzlers’.

The Court further said that there was no substance in the stand taken by the defendant in the response to the cease and desist notice.

“Therefore, it is found that a strong prima facie case is made out on behalf of the plaintiff, for granting ad-interim relief. This Court is convinced that unless such relief is granted, the plaintiff will suffer grave and irreparable loss, thereby indicating that the balance of convenience also lies in favour of the plaintiff.” observed the Court

Accordingly, the matter was listed for further hearing on February 24, 2023.

Cause Title- Yoko Sizzlers v. Yokoso Sizzlers

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