Indian snack company Britannia Industries has lost a trademark battle for its Snax brand despite winning in a similar case against PepsiCo back in 2009.
Britannia, which said it has been using the brand name since 1965, has been denied the right to trademark its Snax biscuit brand name since it resembles too closely the word snacks.
According to the final judgment of the Indian patent authority IPAB: "The trademark Snax is phonetically similar to the word snacks. Snacks means some light food. When a trademark has a direct reference to the quality of the goods for which registration is sought for such mark shall not be granted".
This rule is enforced in order to prevent one player from monopolizing the use of a common word that characterizes a good.
A history of trademark troubles
Britannia won a legal scuffle with PepsiCo in 2009 for use of the Britannia Snax trademark, yet was unsuccessful in this latest case, which claimed just the word Snax.
Britannia itself was in trouble back in 2011 when Kraft Foods sued it for trademark and copyright violations, claiming Britannia’s Treat-O biscuit was a copy of Kraft’s well-known Oreo biscuit.
Spotlight on Indian economy
Media attention has focused on the Indian economy recently since its apparent resilience to the 2008 world economic crisis seems to be coming to an end. In the two years following this crisis the country recorded 9% GDP growth, yet in the past few weeks the value of the rupee has plummeted to a sixth of its value against the US dollar.
Yet over that period the Indian snack market has seen good growth. According to Euromonitor International, retail value of the sweet and savory snack market has increased from $628m in 2008 to $2,013m in 2013. It predicts that this figure will rise to $3316.1m by 2018 despite this recent economic wobble.