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KKR-backed JB Chemicals receives interim injunction from Delhi High Court on probiotic drug trademark

Gireesh Babu, New Delhi
Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

J B Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, backed by private equity major KKR, has received a favourable interim order from the Delhi High Court against a Delhi-based pharma company in connection with its probiotic capsules under the trademarks Lobun and Lobun Forte.

The dispute is over an alleged trade mark infringement by Delhi-based RSL Bio Science Pvt Ltd and manufacturer of the drug, Himachal Pradesh-based Ramom Healthcare Pvt Ltd.

J B Chemicals argued that it had acquired the products Lobun and Lobun Forte, which are prescribed for patients with chronic kidney diseases and for preventing progression of kidney disease to end-stage renal failure, from Sanzyme Private Ltd in January 2022 through an agreement. The product was part of a Rs. 628 crore deal, which included probiotics portfolio leading with Sporlac and reproductive health segment of Sanzyme.

The company, in the High Court, submitted that the trade marks adopted from 2012 on the product were also assigned to J B Chemicals and the sales of the products bearing the marks are to the tune of Rs. 26 crore in the year 2021-22.

It alleged that the company came across the products bearing mark Slobun Forte in October, 2022, marketed by RSL Bio Science and manufactured by Ramom Healthcare and the former has also applied for trademark Slobun Forte in Class 5 through an application filed on August 3, 2022 with a user claim of June 9, 2022.

The Court observed that the two marks are almost identical and the Defendants have only added the letter ‘S’ to J B Chemicals’ marks and the products are also identical in nature and there is a complete chance of conclusion between these products.

“In view of the legal and factual position outlined above, this Court is of the opinion that the Plaintiff (J B Chemicals) has made out a prima facie case for grant of an ad interim injunction. Balance of convenience lies in favour of the Plaintiff and irreparable injury would be caused not only to the Plaintiff but also to the public health if an ad interim injunction is not granted at this stage,” concluded Justice Prathiba M Singh, in an order.

Accordingly, RSL BioScience and Ramom Healthcare were ordered to stay restrained from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale any pharmaceutical preparation under the marks Slobun, Slobun Forte or any other mark which is identical or confusingly similar to J B Chemicals’ marks Lobun or Lobun Forte till next date of hearing.

If the Defendants have any stock of already manufactured products, they are free to approach the Court for exhaustion of the said stock, added the Judge. The next hearing of the matter has been posted in January, 2023.

According to reports in July, 2020, the Private Equity major KR acquired almost 54 per cent stake in J B Chemicals for Rs. 3,100 crore, and following the acquisition, has been looking at acquisitions to grow faster.

 

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