[Forest Essentials Trademark Case] ‘Single Judge Prima Facie Erred In Interpretation Of Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine’: Delhi HC

Read Time: 06 minutes


Justice Anish Dayal had denied Forest Essential interim relief noting that minor confusion among customers does not justify granting an injunction against the mark entirely

The Delhi High Court, on Thursday, held that the single judge erred in the interpretation of the initial interest confusion doctrine in Forest Essential’s trademark infringement suit against Baby Forest Ayurveda Pvt Ltd. The court listed the matter for September 9, 2024. 

Prima facie, we find merit in the appellant’s contention that the learned Single Judge has erred in its interpretation of the doctrine of ‘initial interest confusion’ to entail persistence of confusion till a stage that the transaction is consummated”, the bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru and Justice Tara Vitasta Ganju held.

Forest Essentials, represented by Advocate Swathi Sukumar, approached the bench arguing that the Single Judge misinterpreted the doctrine of 'initial interest confusion' to mean that confusion must persist until the transaction is completed. It was contended that 'initial interest confusion' pertains only to confusion at the preliminary stage.

She further asserted that the learned Single Judge did not address the issue of confusion adequately. She argued that the brand 'Forest Essentials', an Ayurvedic brand, and the 'Baby Forest-Soham Of Ayurveda' convey a similar concept to the 'Forest Essentials Luxurious Ayurveda'. She argued that Forest Essential used the trademarks in question for a considerable period, while Baby Forest entered the market with the contested trademarks recently in 2022.

The bench prima facie noted the error in the interpretation of the initial interest confusion test by the Single Judge and therefore provided Baby Forest with an adequate period to prepare for the hearings. 

The bench further clarified that the doctrine of 'initial interest confusion' implies that confusion occurs only at the initial stage and does not continue once the sale and purchase transaction is completed. Customers are not confused about the product they are purchasing when the sale is finalized; the confusion exists only at the initial stage, the bench observed. 


Forest Essential had filed under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, seeking to prevent trademark infringement of their marks such as 'Forest Essentials' and 'Baby Essentials'. They claimed significant use and investment in their brand, with notable sales and a substantial marketing budget.

However, the court noted that Forest Essentials did not register the marks 'Forest Essentials Baby' or 'Forest Essentials Baby Essentials' despite claiming usage since 2006. Registrations were sought only after initiating the lawsuit. The term 'Baby' was used descriptively, not as a trademark. The baby care range was marketed under the main brand 'Forest Essentials,' without a distinct sub-brand identity.

The court underscored that minor confusion does not justify an injunction and emphasized evaluating brand confusion comprehensively, considering factors like brand elements, online presence, and consumer behavior. The court therefore rejected the plea seeking interim relief

For Appellant: Advocates Swathi Sukumar, Essenese Obhan, Ayesha Guhathakurta, and Anjuri Saxena
For Respondent: Senior Advocate Jayant K Mehta with Advocates Sandeep Chatterjee, Tanya Arora, and Jaydeep Roy

Case Title: Mountain Valley Springs India Private Limited v Baby Forest Ayurveda Private Limited (CS(COMM) 523/2023)