Popular TN company wins spiced-up trademark fight for 'Aachi' in the US

United States Trademark Trials and Appeal Board tells a restaurant there to drop Aachi from name

Published: 16th September 2016 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2016 06:00 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: A United States Trademark Trials and Appeal Board has ruled in favour of popular Indian condiments company, Aachi Spices and Foods after they filed a petition against a California-based restaurant for registering the same name (Aachi Aappakadai) and logo design as the condiment company.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on September 13 decided to grant the condiment’s petition for cancellation of Aachi Aappakadai’s registration after the petitioners asserted that the continued usage of the name by the restaurant would cause damage to their company.

Popular.JPGFunnily enough, one of the main points of contention was over the meaning of the word ‘Aachi’. In their petition Aachi Spice and Foods had said that the meaning of the word was ‘an elderly woman’, while owner of Aachi Aappakadai, Kalidoss Raju, argued over this point claiming that his definition of the word was ‘grandmother’ and therefore the condiment company had no right laying claim to the name.

Set up in 1995, Aachi Spices and Foods applied for a trademark of its name in India in 1999. The company has been sending more than 200 tonnes of its products in the US since 2000 and got its US trademark registered in 2008.

The company sells everything from jellies and jams, processed peanuts, pickles, ghee, yogurt,preserved meat, fruits and vegetables  to all Indian masalas and spices such as turmeric or masala products for curries.

According to assisting lawyer Gladys Daniel from  Daniel and Gladys. based in Chennai, the condiment company found out in 2013 that one Kalidoss Raju had set up two branches of Aachi Aappakadai in California. “A ‘cease and desist’ notice was sent to them but they refused to change the name which was why we petitioned in court January 2014,” she explained.

When argument over the meaning of the name was raised, the Board referred to the Tamil dictionary and found that the word which was only used colloquially had a broad meaning that included grandmother as well as any elderly woman, thus squashing the argument.

Another argument the respondent brought to the Board was that while Aachi Spices and Foods’ field of activity’ was only food ingredients and condiments,  his services were that of a restaurant and that the two were not sufficiently related to cause any issue to each other.

However, the petitioner was able to prove that there were indeed a lot of similarities between their products and the restaurant menu. Another point that the respondents could not defend was the fact that since the restaurant and the condiment both catered for the same crowd which comprised Indians settled in the US, there could be an easy confusion between the two. This could lead to damage in reputation or finances of the condiment company.

According to Daniel, since the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board passed their orders, Kalidoss Raju has accepted the decision and has communicated to Aachi Aappakadai that they would either change their name to Chella or Amma Aappakadai.


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