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ASCI, K&S Partners tie up to spotlight unfair trademarks practices used by brands

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Mumbai, India – The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and intellectual property (IP) boutique K&S Partners, have joined hands to release a whitepaper titled ‘Misleading Advertisements and Trademarks – A Registration Conundrum’, which identifies the practice and instances of brands making misleading claims and representations through the use of trademarks.

Brands and advertisers often cite trademark registrations as a defence, these words or phrases mislead consumers. With this paper, ASCI and K&S Partners argue that such a defence is not valid, as making misleading representations violates the ASCI code, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Trade Marks Act itself. 

Moreover, the paper calls for greater scrutiny and restraint in permitting descriptive trademarks to brands, and to ensure that such trademarks are not a false representation of the product.

“At ASCI we see cases where the advertiser uses a trademark registration to defend their direct or implied claims, asserting that a trademark registration means that the claim is good in law. This is not true, and we would ask brands to be cautious in using untrue, exaggerated or misleading phrases to describe their products, whether trademarks or not,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general at ASCI.

Meanwhile, Prashant Gupta, partner at K&S Partners, shared that the issue concerning false, unsubstantiated, and dishonest advertisements, under the guise of descriptive or laudatory trademarks, is grave. 

“Protecting consumers from deception is one of the principal tenets of the ASCI Code, the Trade Marks Act, and the Consumer Protection Act. The Trademark Office needs to raise the threshold for descriptive or laudatory trademarks, failing which, protecting consumers’ rights from fraudulent marks and making informed choices would be severely compromised,” said Gupta.

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