Mountain Valley Springs India Pvt Ltd vs. Baby Forest Ayurveda Pvt Ltd; An Analysis




The recent legal tussle between Mountain Valley Springs (MVS/Plaintiff) and Baby Forest Ayurveda (BFA/Defendant) is consequential owing to its implications on unfair competition and trademark infringement. In this article, we will probe into the case background, arguments put forward, the court’s decision, and its potential impact on future IP litigation in India.

Case Background

In this case, the Plaintiff, being the owner of the skincare brand, ‘Forest Essentials’, filed a lawsuit against the Defendant, for allegedly infringing its trademark, by using the marks ‘BABY FOREST’, ‘BABY FOREST–SOHAM OF AYURVEDA’, ‘BABY ESSENTIALS’, and ‘SAUNDARYA POTLI, that are deceptively similar to its mark, Forest Essentials. The Plaintiff sought an interim injunction to restrain the Defendant from using these marks, claiming potential confusion and infringement on their established brand.

Arguments Of The Case

The Plaintiff stated that Forest Essentials had been using the mark ‘Forest Essentials’ continuously since 2000, with over 150 stores worldwide and annual sales exceeding Rs. 425 crores. They possessed trademark registrations for word and logo marks for ‘Forest Essentials’ in multiple classes. The Plaintiff argued that their notable brand recognition and sales volume gave them the right to restrict the use of marks comprising of the word ‘Forest’ and that the Defendant’s adoption of the mark was dishonest, since they made all efforts possible, to come close to the Plaintiff’s mark and to bank on the Plaintiff’s goodwill and the use of a similar mark by BFA creates confusion among customers who might assume that both products originate from the same company. The Defendant’s not only adopted a deceptively similar mark ‘BABY FOREST’ but they also adopted ‘LUXURY AYURVEDA’, ‘BABY ESSENTIALS’ and ‘SAUNDARYA’ and a similar ‘Tree’ logo.

To show confusion, the Plaintiff relied upon an email dated July 26, 2023, which was received from ‘’ to the Plaintiff, asking if the Defendants’ collection ‘BABY FOREST’ was a new collection of the Plaintiffs and also a comment made on the Instagram feed of the Defendant asking, “Are you a unit of forest essentials?”, to which there was no reply by the Defendant.”.

Forest Essentials further claimed that they had been selling ‘mother and baby care’ products continuously since 2006 under the marks ‘Forest Essentials Baby’ and ‘Forest Essentials Baby Essentials’, with annual sale close to Rs. 15 crores.

The Defendants highlighted that the trademark was ‘Forest Essentials’ and not ‘Forest Essentials Baby’ or ‘Forest Essentials Baby Essentials’. The word ‘Baby’ on their packaging for baby care products expressed the intended purpose of the goods and was not used as a trademark.

Court’s Decision

The single judge denied the Plaintiff injunction on the grounds that though the Plaintiff asserted ownership of the marks ‘Forest Essentials Baby’ and ‘Forest Essentials Baby Essentials’, they had never sought registration of these marks, despite affirming use since 2006. The Plaintiff did not oppose the registration of ‘BABY FOREST’ by the Defendant. Furthermore, the Plaintiff’s documents indicated that the baby care range is marketed under the main house mark ‘FOREST ESSENTIALS’ and not as a separate sub-brand. Further, since ‘FOREST’ is a generic term, the Plaintiff cannot claim dominance over it without registration.

The Plaintiff appealed in the Delhi High Court and submitted that the single judge misinterpreted the doctrine of ‘initial interest confusion’ to mean that, confusion must subsist till the transaction is completed. The Plaintiff stated that it’s brand ‘Forest Essentials’, being an Ayurvedic brand and the Defendant’s ‘Baby Forest-Soham of Ayurveda’ conveys a similar idea as the Plaintiff’s brand. Additionally, the Plaintiff claimed that it also uses the trademark, ‘Baby Essentials’ and ‘Forest Essentials Baby Essentials’.

The Court held that it found merit in the Plaintiff’s contention that the single judge had erred in its interpretation of the doctrine of ‘initial interest confusion’. The doctrine entails that there is confusion only at the initial stage, and there is no confusion when the transaction is completed. The customers have no doubt about the product they will buy when the sale is completed.

The court further observed that several aspects constitute a brand, including word and device mark, artistic work, trade dress, get-up, layouts, brand’s presence on the internet, its price point, positioning and target consumer. Therefore, disruption, confusion and association need to be evaluated comprehensively rather than in isolation.

In its decision, the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of MVS, granting an injunction against BFA to prevent further infringement and passing off of its products. The court’s decision was based on various factors:

Trademark similarity: BFA’s use of a similar trademark was likely to cause confusion among consumers, leading them to believe that BFA’s products were associated with MVS, leading to trademark infringement.

Passing off: BFA had engaged in passing off its products as those of MVS by using a confusingly similar trademark. BFA had attempted to capitalize on MVS’s goodwill by creating a false impression that its products were associated with MVS.

Absence of fair use: The court rejected BFA’s claim that its use of the similar trademark fell under the category of fair use. BFA’s use did not meet the criteria for fair use owing to the likelihood of confusion among consumers.


This case is a strong reminder of the importance of trademark protection in India. The case brings to light the requirement for businesses to carefully consider the potential for trademark infringement and passing off when choosing a trademark for their products or services. The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, in an appeal against the decision of the single judge, prima facie, found that there were errors in the interpretation of the initial interest confusion test. Overall, this case underscores the complexity of trademark disputes in the modern era and highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of marketing strategies, consumer behaviour and legal doctrine in adjudicating such matters.


Authors: Seema Meena & Rea Parikh


Interns and Paralegals.


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