ASUS has landed in a tough position in India, with the Delhi High Court ruling that ASUS has infringed on an existing trademark by selling smartphones with ZenFone branding, as the word Zen has been already trademarked by Telecare Network, a company that has been selling phones under the “Zen” brand since 2008.
In a situation where the company is about to launch its next flagship in the country, ASUS will now have to rethinking the branding of the phone if it has to now sell its phone in India. Telecare Network says that ASUS has taken advantage of the name and also that using the word Zen is going to cause confusion in the minds of the public.
ASUS has responded by saying that the word “Zen” is commonly used and has roots in Buddhism, the court ruled out with its support for Telecare Network, given the trademarks held by the company in the country.
…a word may be generic qua a specific business or trade or industry but not across the board for all business or trades or industries.
Consequently, though ZEN is a generic word qua a school of Buddhism, yet it is not a generic mark with regard to mobile phones and tablets as the said word has no connection or correlation with mobile phones or tablets.
The court also said that the defendants (ASUS in this case) has made use of a deceptively similar/identical trademark(ZENFONE) in relation to identical goods (mobile phones) having identical trade channels. Also, as ASUS has itself applied for a trademark for the word ZenFone, it cannot argue that the word zen is generic, and thus, the court mentioned that Telecare is entitled to protect the trademark.
It might not have an immediate effect and ASUS might still sell the ZenFone 6 with the same branding as next hearing is scheduled for July 10 and ASUS can try to overturn the ruling then, or will then have to come up with a newer branding, but for the longer term, there could be a newer nomenclature to be used, like ASUSPhone. Right now, Flipkart, the company’s official online seller is still selling the phones under the ZenFone branding and there has been no stop to it.