Visual and Phonetic Similarity of Trademarks-Study of Judicial Trends in India


When acting as distinctive identification for products and services, trademarks help customers make educated choices about their purchases. Determining the potential of misunderstanding among identical marks requires consideration of both the visual and phonological characteristics of trademarks. The Trade Marks Act, 1999 governs trademark law in India, and the judiciary has a substantial impact on how the law is interpreted and applied. Given that trademarks serve as distinguishing descriptors of products and services in the retail environment, visual resemblance is a crucial consideration in trademark law. Buyer misunderstanding caused by a visually comparable trademark can harm awareness of a brand and a company's credibility. The notion of graphic resemblance of trademarks, its importance in trademark law, as well as how it is assessed by courts are all covered in this article. Phonetic comparison is essential because it affects how customers pronounce and interpret brands. When trademarks sound same, buyers may be misled and mistake for the origin of merchandise or services. This may happen when names are phonetically identical. We examine the idea of linguistic resemblance in trademarks, its importance in the field of trademark law, and the way courts assess it to avoid confusion among consumers in this article.


In regard to look, layout, and general perception, visual resemblance describes the likeness among two or more trademarks. It entails examining visual components including color, typeface, form, and layout to see if the trademarks may be confused with one another. To determine if there is a chance that customers would be confused, courts and trademark regulators meticulously scrutinize the visual aspects. Protecting customers from misunderstanding while making purchases is the main goal of trademark law. A physically similar trademark can confuse and misidentify consumers by making them think the products or services are produced by the same company. Parallels in appearance affects brand memory and identification. A trademark that is similar to another well-known brand may gain from its popularity and credibility, giving it a disproportionate advantage and lessening the original mark's uniqueness. A key consideration in deciding whether a violation of trademarks has occurred is visual resemblance. When two marks are used for comparable goods or services and are physically similar, it may be a sign that the exclusive rights of the owner are being violated. Visual resemblance is taken into account by trademark authorities when reviewing trademark applications. To prevent consumer confusion, licensing may be denied for a mark if it aesthetically resembles a previously registered mark. When it comes to evaluating visual similarity, courts and trademark authorities use various methods to evaluate visual similarity. Courts emphasize the trademarks' defining characteristics. These are the components that draw the customer in and make an impact. The chance of misunderstanding is increased by similar dominating characteristics. Courts take into account the entire image that trademarks have on a typical customer. They evaluate how a customer might distinguish between the marks when they are side by side. A key element is the level of visual resemblance. Marks that are nearly identical or have a strong visual similarity are more probable to be compared. To examine the parallels and discrepancies between the trademarks, courts may do an in tandem ocular analysis. Forming a well-informed assessment on perplexity is aided by this. When trademarks are used to identify products, the package in its entirety is compared for visual resemblance. A unique visual brand is created by using packaging components including color schemes and design.

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The comparable nature of more than two trademarks' pronunciations is referred to as phonetic similarity. It entails listening to the words being stated orally and listening for phonological components including words, pronunciations, and tone. When marks seem comparable, consumers can assume that the products or solutions are produced by the same company, which could cause uncertainty in the marketplace as a whole. Protecting customers from misunderstanding when they make purchases is the main goal of trademark law. When considering whether or not two marks have a tendency to contribute to customer misunderstanding and origin mistaken identification, phonetic resemblance is a crucial consideration. Brand identification and memory may be impacted by phonological similarities. A registered trademark that has the same pronunciation as another well-known mark may profit from the latter's popularity and trustworthiness, giving it a disproportionate advantage and weakening the primary mark's uniqueness. When examining registration applications, trademark authorities take acoustic similarities into account. A trademark may not be protected if it is phonologically identical to a presently registered mark in order to prevent confusion among consumers. There are a number of methods by which the courts or competent trademark authorities evaluate phonetic similarity. To find out how the registered trademarks sounds when uttered out loud, courts may administer a pronunciation test. This test aids in determining how comparable the pronunciations, articulation, and consonants are. When assessing phonological similarity, it is important to consider the viewpoint of the typical customer. Courts take into account how people may speak and distinguish the trademarks when they are used. The sound-alike test, which compares the phonological components of the marks to determine their resemblance in sound, may be used by courts. If the two marks sound "confusingly identical" when pronounced out loud, that meets the criteria for phonetic resemblance. They are regarded as phonologically similar if their similarities are great enough to cause customer misunderstanding.

Delhi Lakme Limited and Subhash Trading were engaged in a legal battle over alleged trademark violation in the "Delhi Lakme Limited vs. Subhash Trading " lawsuit. The main problem concerned Subhash Trading's claimed improper use of the "Lakme" brand. Plaintiff offered beauty products for sale through the Lakme name, while the defendant offered a similar class of goods with the LikeMe brand. There was no doubt that the two terms were similar to one another. The words also sound comparable since it was also mentioned. There is a chance of deceit and confusion being introduced into the buyer's head. According to the court's decision, Subhash Trading's usage of the term "Like me" constituted trademark violation and hence favored Delhi Lakme Limited. The judge found that the brands' resemblance and the likelihood of misunderstanding among consumers were sufficiently great to require judicial action.

In “Cadbury India Ltd vs Neeraj Food Products ”, a mark for "GEMS" had been filed in the company name of the Plaintiff, an established producer and distributor of chocolates and related goods. The Plaintiff sought an order of protection from the court of law over the respondent for purportedly offering an item with the mark "JAMES BOND" that was similar in dimensions and appearance to the Plaintiff's "GEMS" brand. The complainant alleged that the item offered under the "JAMES BOND" brand was misleadingly identical to "GEMS." The judge determined that the The defendant's goods were in fact misleadingly identical to those of the Complainant and awarded an order preventing the sale of the aforementioned product.

In “Pidilite Industries Limited v. Poma-EX Products and Ors ”, The respondent was accused of using the complainant's trademark's component mark "KWIK" dishonestly. The packaging that was provided of the goods from the company in question was identical to that of the complainant's 'FEVIKWIK' brand and the defendant was utilizing its trademark 'KWIKHEAL'. The mark "KWIK," which is a major component of the Plaintiff's trademark, can not be utilized by the Defendant, according to the Bombay HC. The court additionally determined that buyers would be readily misled and deceived by the marks' phonological resemblance. In order to prevent the Defendant from utilizing "KWIK" as a component of their trademark, it was determined that it was the overriding characteristic of the Plaintiff's trademark.

Analysis of the judicial trend in India

With regard to occasions for trademark violation in India including physical and phonological resemblance, the judicial trend has developed over time to give an exhaustive framework for figuring out the possibility of misunderstanding and violation. Authorities have repeatedly acknowledged the need of safeguarding trademarks' uniqueness and repute while also taking marketplace rivalry and customer opinion into account. The importance of visual resemblance in assessing trademark infringement has been recognized by Indian courts. They evaluate trademarks' general look, style, and structure to determine whether or not those are likely to cause confusion among customers.


The trend in Indian courts addressing trademark violation cases using phonetic and visual similarities emphasizes the value of a comprehensive strategy. To make well-informed judgements, courts carefully consider phonic and visual components, buyer habits, uniqueness, and the structure of the market. The relevance of these factors is further amplified by the changing nature of trade and the digital age. This legal tendency helps to uphold equitable competition, trust among consumers, and the integrity of brands in the retail environment in addition to protecting trademark holders' interests.

Author : Ananyaa Varma, in case of any query, contact us at Global Patent Filing or write back us via email at

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