Serum Institute submits reply in Pune court over 'Covishield' lawsuit

The Pune-based vaccine maker, through its lawyer, submitted the written response in the court to the lawsuit filed by Cutis-Biotech, a pharmaceutical products manufacturer and seller.

Published: 19th January 2021 09:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2021 09:54 PM   |  A+A-

A health worker shows the Covishield vaccine, after arrival of the first batch from the Serum Institute of India at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. (Photo | EPS)


PUNE: Serum Institute of India on Tuesday filed its response in the civil court here to a lawsuit by a pharmaceutical products manufacturer and seller over the brand name 'Covishield', saying both companies operate in different product categories and there is no scope for confusion over the trademark.

The Pune-based vaccine maker, through its lawyer, submitted the written response in the court to the lawsuit filed by Cutis-Biotech, a pharmaceutical products manufacturer and seller based in Nanded, central Maharashtra.

Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing an anti- coronavirus vaccine called "Covishield".

Further arguments on the matter are slated for January 22.

On January 4, Cutis-Biotech had filed the suit in the civil court seeking to restrain SII from using the trademark Covishield or any other similar names for its COVID-19 vaccine and claimed the pharma firm is a prior user of the brand name.

Appearing before the court of additional sessions judge A V Rotte on behalf of SII, advocate S K Jain submitted the company's response.

"We have filed the response in the court to the suit filed seeking the injunction (on use of Covishield trademark) and I will argue in the court on Friday (Jan 22)," Jain told PTI.

Jain said in the reply, SII has raised several points which include distinction in products of both the firms (Cutis -Biotech and SII) and timeline of trademark applications.

"We have told the court that the plaintiff (Cutis- Biotech) filed another application before the trademark registry for a vaccine under the name Covishield in December 2020. This information has not been revealed by the plaintiff to the court," he said.

Jain said points related to timeline claimed by the plaintiff were also raised.

"Since March 2020, my client has been telling the world that they are making a vaccine in the name of Covishield.

"In June 2020, we (SII) informed trademark registry about it officially. If this was the reality, why did the plaintiff file for a trademark with the same name in April 2020?" he asked.

He said if the plaintiff's April 2020 application for trademark was sufficient, what was the need to make another application to trademark registry for vaccine in the same name (Covishield).

"There is no letter of intent by the plaintiff's firm about the vaccine with ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and still the plaintiff applied for a trademark," he said.

Talking about product distinction, Jain said Cutis- Biotech is into selling hand sanitisers, handwash, disinfectants using the name Covishield, while his client's product is a human vaccine.

"Both the products are distinct in nature and there is no scope for confusion," he added.

Advocate Aditya Soni, through whom Cutis-Biotech, has filed the lawsuit, said he argued before the court that his client is a prior user of the trademark - Covishield.

The Nanded firm is using the trademark since May 2020 for products like hand sanitisers, handwash, antiseptic, disinfectants, surface de-containment spray and fruit and vegetable washing liquid, whereas the defendant (SII) is using the name only since January 2021, Soni said.

"We cited several judgements of the Supreme Court showing that how the prior user of a trademark has a superior right," he said.

Asked about the claim made by SII's lawyer in the court about Cutis Biotech filing another trademark application in December for vaccine use, Soni said he would reply to the point during arguments.


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