This newly introduced scheme known as Basket of Brands (BOB) by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) that seeks to protect companies against copyright infringement and sale of counterfeit goods is definitely one to be applauded.

BOB will serve as a database of registered trademark owners who are agreeable in cooperating with MDTCC which will be taking actions against any infringement cases. Those listed in the database may at any time lodge a complaint with the Ministry should they find any counterfeited goods similar to their own and the Ministry will the make the necessary moves to seize those counterfeited goods.

So far, approximately 40 brands have participated in this scheme and they are brands ranging from the clothing, liquor, automotive spare parts and pharmaceutical products industries – all which are popular consumer-based products.

This scheme has been initiated to reduce counterfeit goods in the market and it inevitably protects intellectual property rights as well. It is advisable for all trademark owners to take advantage of this scheme so do register immediately.

However, besides the aforementioned information, MDTCC has not provided anything else. So we are still trying to contact them for more information; for example, if registered brands in industries other than those specified can be protected under the BOB. We will keep you informed once we are updated with more details.

Malaysian Registered Trade Mark Expunged And Removed 

In a recent Malaysian case between Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India (APEDA) and Syarikat Faiza Sdn Bhd, it was concluded by the High Court that the latter’s trademark ‘Ponni’ was to be expunged and removed from the Malaysian trademark register.

The case was initiated by APEDA to prevent Syarikat Faiza to cease selling rice that was known as ‘ponni’ rice under its Taj Mahal brand name. ‘Ponni’ is actually a type of rice developed by the Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in 1986 and it originated from the Kaveri, also known as Ponni, Delta region in the southern Indian peninsula. The ponni rice has been produced by South Indian farmers for over two decades.

The plaintiff contended that the ‘ponni’ trademark granted to Syarikat Faiza would affect its ability in selling ‘ponni’ rice in Malaysia and other countries. The High Court also found that ‘ponni’ is a descriptive word therefore it was ordered for expungement of the registration.

This issue is similar to the Basmati case. No one should enjoy any monopoly rights on the geographical name of ‘ponni’ as a trademark in Malaysia in respect of rice products. Brand owners must not simply register any trademark that has a geographical indication and/or generic name or mark that is descriptive in character to avoid expungement by a third party.