ExxonMobil Corporation, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, has forced a shopkeeper dealing in automobile oils to remove ‘Mobil’ from its name following a suit in Delhi High Court, which has asked the Tripura trader to pay Rs 3 lakh to the American firm as litigation costs.
In the suit filed before the court earlier this year, ExxonMobil said that the use of word ‘Mobil’ by Tripura-based ‘Mahanam Mobil House’ constitutes infringement as it [ExxonMobil] uses the mark [Mobil] for various lubricants and petroleum products. The mark has been protected from misuse previously by various court orders, it told the Delhi HC.
In February 2022, the court had passed an ex parte ad interim injunction against the shop, restraining it from using ‘Mobil’ in its name. The court also had appointed a local commissioner to visit the shop and he told the court that the defendant was not dealing with any product bearing the name ‘Mobil’ and has removed the same from the board of his shop.
Justice Prathiba M Singh in a decision dated August 5 said that the owner of the shop, apparently was using the name ‘Mobil’ as part of its trading style and had removed it after the local commissioner’s visit. “The local commissioner’s report also shows that the name ‘MOBIL’ was being used as part of the full name of the defendant’s concern but there was no use of the mark ‘MOBIL’ per se as a trade name or as a trademark on the products,” said the court.
The court further said that the defendant appears to have reconciled to the fact that it cannot use the name ‘Mobil’ as part of its trade name and thus some prayers in the suit have become infructuous. However, the court added that the defendant was using ExxonMobil’s mark as part of its trading style and has conducted sales, commercial activities under the said name.
“The Plaintiff’s mark being registered, the same would constitute infringement and passing off. The defendant was served a legal notice by the plaintiff but didn’t cease use of the impugned name. The plaintiff had to incur legal costs including court fee, local commissioner’s fee and expenses to protect its legal and statutory rights,” said the court.
The court further said that considering the scale of the “not very big” operations of the Tripura shop and that it has now complied with the injunction order of February 2022, litigation costs of Rs 3 lakh are awarded to ExxonMobil.