The Delhi High Court on Tuesday restrained Asus from selling or promoting mobile phones and accessories under the Zen/Zenfone branding. The ruling comes after New Delhi-based Telecare Network filed a lawsuit against the Taiwanese phone maker of adopting an identical trademark “Zenfone” for selling the same kind of products – mobile phones.
As was passed by Justice Manmohan, the order approved Telecare’s plea of restraining Asus from selling, offering or advertising the sale of mobile phones, accessories and other related products under the Zen or Zenfone trademarks. The court also orders Asus to not sell any product under a deceptively similar or identical name to that of the Zen or Zenfone name.
Telecare Network claims that it has held the proprietary rights to include ‘Zen’ and ‘ZenMobile’ in their products according to the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The company said it has been in the mobile phone and accessories business since 2009 (as listed on its website) while Asus only started selling smartphones under the Zenfone name from 2014.
Asus, on the other hand, contested that Zen is a generic term in Buddhist philosophy stating that various third-party vendors had products with the name Zen on it. The Taiwanese company also argued that there was no scope of confusion since the Zenfone name is directly associated with Asus when a product is announced.
However, the court took observation that the objective behind trademarks is to prevent users from getting confused about the source of goods. The High Court thus ruled the judgement that even though Zen is a commonly used term, it cannot be easily directly associated with smartphones or tablets and therefore is no more generic in this case.
Telecare Network is thus entitled to protect the Zen trademark. An update on the matter will soon be declared as the next set of hearings are expected to be held on July 10. If Asus fails to provide compelling evidence, the company will have to move on with a new branding or stop selling current Zenfone in India. It’s unclear whether the situation will affect Asus’ ZenBook line of laptops.