As things stand, embroiled in a tug of war are two States—Kerala and Karnataka over the right to use an acronym/abbreviation “KSRTC” trade mark, its emblem and nickname “Aanavandi”, which means an elephant vehicle, for their respective road transportation corporations providing services to the general public for decades now. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation started using the abbreviation “KSRTC” when they started the services in 1965, while Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation commenced services in 1974 and started using the abbreviation since then. Apparently, they have been using the same area for parking purposes, operations and management and booking counters.
The case got reignited recently when a press release was issued by Kerala that the Trade Marks Registry had given a final verdict to use the abbreviation “KSRTC” in its favour. However, subsequently, Karnataka SRTC issued a statement, saying the “reports are factually incorrect as we have not received any such notice or order from the Central Trade Mark Registry as claimed until today”. To my mind, there is no such order granting any exclusive rights over the trade mark “KSRTC” to one State over the other as on date. The trade mark public search report by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which clearly mentions that Kerala and Karnataka have the rights to use “KSRTC”. Furthermore, the rectifications filed by Kerala SRTC against Karnataka SRTC’s registrations are pending before the IPAB (Intellectual Property Appellate Board)(now the Madras High Court, after abolition of the IPAB) without determination. Consequently, till the determination of the same, there is no bar against the use of the acronym by either of the States.
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