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THE legal tussle between Parle Agro, makers of Frooti and Appy brand of beverages, and Cadbury India, makers of the Dairy Milk brand of chocolates, has aggravated with Parle Agro rejecting a peace offer made by Cadbury India over the latter’s alleged trademark violation. Both Parle Agro and Cadbury India are engaged in a legal battle in the Bombay High Court and the the UK-based chocolate maker had offered an out-of-court settlement in June this year to Parle Agro.

“The options that they (Cadbury) have proposed for the revised trademark still continue to pass off and infringe on our long-term trademark ‘Frooti’ and hence the matter continues as it is. Though they have proposed an out-of-court settlement, our main concern still remains unresolved, which is with regard to the trademark ‘Fruity’, which tends to pass of as Frooti—our flagship brand since 1985,” Parle Agro director Nadia Chauhan said. A Cadbury spokesperson refused to comment, saying the matter is sub-judice.

Prakash Chauhan-owned Parle Agro had sued Cadbury India in 2006 after the latter planned to launch fruit-flavoured “Fruity Gems” brand of gems in India. Parle Agro alleged that as Frooti is the flagship brand of the company and has a sizeable goodwill in the country, Cadbury is infringing on its trademark.

Within months, Cadbury moved the Delhi High Court against Parle Agro and sought a declaration that the word “Fruity” was commonly used in the English language and the Mumbai-based Parle cannot claim exclusivity to a completely descriptive term. After Cadbury lost its appeal in the Delhi HC, it moved the Supreme Court to transfer Parle Agro’s suit to the Delhi High Court to avoid conflicting judgement between two courts. But the Supreme Court dismissed Cadbury’s petition.

In June this year, both parties informed the Bombay High Court that they are keen to settle the dispute out of the court. With Parle Agro now saying that it has rejected Cadbury’s proposals, the matter is back to square one, a legal source said.

A lawyer advising Cadbury said they are keen to settle the issue with Parle Agro but if they insist on a legal fight, the British company will take it to its logical end. Parle Agro’s legal advisors say they are keen to preserve, protect and enforce its intellectual property rights in the mark “Frooti”, which it had been using since 1985. Unlisted Parle Agro is taking baby steps to enter the candy business by launching two candy brands, Mintrox and ButterCup. The company has recently taken steps to settle a brand war with Parle Products by not using the “Parle” brands in its candies.

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