Supreme Court of India rules against Toyota; Prius name no longer belongs to automaker

Japanese automaker Toyota has lost a trademark-related case it had filed in India, against Prius Auto Industries, an Indian autoparts maker. Toyota has sought the Supreme Court of India’s intervention to stop Prius Auto Industries from using the ‘Prius’ name as it was trademarked by Toyota in Japan and many other countries.

Supreme Court of India rules against Toyota; Prius name no longer belongs to automaker

The Prius is brand of hybrid cars that Toyota sells in many countries around the world including in India. However, Toyota registered the Prius trademark in India only during 2010, when it launched the hybrid car here. However, Prius Auto Industries was in existence from 2002, and had trademarked the brand name much before Toyota.

The Supreme Court’s bench of judges, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha, said,

The brand name of the car Prius had not acquired the degree of goodwill, reputation and the market or popularity in the Indian market so as to get Toyota the necessary attributes of the right of a prior user so as to successfully maintain an action of passing off even against registered owner (Prius Auto Industries).

Currently, Toyota sells the latest-generation Prius hybrid car in the Indian market. The car is priced at a hefty Rs. 44.07 lakhs, ex-showroom Delhi, because it is imported from Japan as a completely built unit (CBU) and not assembled/manufactured in India. The Prius uses a 1.8 liter petrol engine that produces 97 Bhp and 142 Nm. It is supplemented by an electric motor that runs on batteries.

The car gets a fuel efficiency of nearly 24 Kmpl, making it extremely fuel efficient (for its size). Toyota used to also sell the Camry Hybrid in India, but discontinued it recently because of the Indian government increasing taxes on hybrid cars through the GST. In future, Toyota plans to launch electric cars rather than hybrids in India. It has now tied up with Maruti to develop and sell electric cars in the Indian market.