In a much awaited decision, the High Court of Madras has finally cleared the air in the dispute regarding use of the words MAGIC/ MAGICAL and MASALA (a mixture of different spices used in Indian cooking) for food products. In 2013, the conflict had arisen between the two well established FMCG companies ITC Limited ("ITC") and Nestle India Limited ("Nestle"), where the adoption of the expression "Magical Masala" by Nestle for marketing its instant noodles was alleged to be phonetically similar to "Magic Masala" used by ITC for its "Sunfeast Yippee! noodles". Resultantly, the present suit for passing off was filed by ITC against Nestle. The primary question before the Court was whether ITCcan claim exclusivity over common words MAGIC and MASALA alone or in combination.
The packaging(s) of both parties are reproduced below:
|ITC's packaging||Nestle's packaging|
ITC's case is as follows:
Nestle contended that:
The Court framed the following two main issues (among others) for consideration:
After considering both parties' pleadings and arguments, the Court dismissed the suit while making the following main observations: