A trademark essentially is a meticulously crafted profile of a person, product, or organization. A trademark adds to the financial value of a concerned business and is synonymous with a company's identity in the market. However, such a crucial nature of trademarks often leads to instances of infringement wherein the defaulter aims to ride on the goodwill of the lawful user of the mark. Using a mark deceptively similar to another mark aids the defaulters in achieving this aim. The primary purpose of such use is to confuse an average consumer through misrepresentation and consequently damage the reputation of the original mark. The defence of prior use is one of the prevalent defences taken in cases of similar or identical marks. The Indian Judiciary has given a plethora of judgments, laying down guidelines for determining the circumstances for trademark infringement by using deceptively similar marks. Likewise, the Judiciary has also enumerated the implicit scope of the prior use. However, such judgments' effectiveness and binding nature are often deliberated upon.
This paper seeks to understand the interpretations of the offence of deceptive similarity and the defence of prior use. The paper critically analyzes some significant case laws related to both the concepts and attempts to grasp the present legal position. The paper attempts to identify the loopholes and provide feasible recommendations. The paper adopts a doctrinal research methodology from credible authorities to substantiate the same. Rogerian method of analysis has been used while critically examining the legal precedents. The article concludes that the Judiciary needs to be highly vigilant about its interpretation of relevant laws to facilitate smooth redressal of issues for the foreseeable future.