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21 Jul 2019, Edition - 1468, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Warring Sri Krishna Sweets brothers in legal battle to settle trademark row

M Perumalsamy

As far as Coimbatore city is concerned, the war in the family that owns Sri Krishna Sweets is as big as they come. It is leaving a bitter taste in the sweets business the family is engaged in since 1948 when it all began as a small entity.

Having grown into a multi-crore family run business, where oral commitments are given more importance than any other contracts, the legal battle between the two sons of their illustrious father who started the Sri Krishna Sweet Home has saddened the business community and the people of the city.

The ‘sweet row’ between brothers M. Krishnan and M. Murali over the brand’s trademark has taken a bitter turn as they take it to the courts. The legal battle promises to be a protracted one going by the determination of the brothers to win at any cost.

The Madras High Court refused to entertain a plea by the Krishnan for restraining younger brother Mr. Murali from using the same trademark but has posted the case for further hearing on November 11. Till then the interim order is extended.

The Coimbatore-based SKS, well known for its lip-smacking ‘Mysurpa’, is embroiled in a legal tangle as the differences between the elder brother and managing director of Sri Krishna Sweets Private Limited Mr. Krishnan and the younger brother M. Murali has deepend.

The Madras High Court recently entertained three writ petitions filed by SKS, represented by its MD Mr. Krishnan and stayed the operation of an order obtained by Mr. Murali from the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB). Claiming to have a couple of trademarks registered, Mr. Krishnan stated the firm was originally promoted by his wife Usha Krishnan along with him.

Treading the path of his father and founder of the firm N.K. Mahadeva Iyer, who established Sri Krishna Bhavan in 1948, Mr. Krishnan made a foray into sweets business by establishing ‘Sri Krishna Sweets’ in 1979. This soon drew the attention of the connoisseurs as one of its products – Mysurpa – gained popularity across the globe for its exclusive flavour and delicate texture.

When all was well in the family, Mr. Krishnan gave permission to his brother ‘orally’ to open outlets in select regions and use the same company trademark. He also made Mr. Murali a director of the organisation in 2002 and purchased all the latter’s outlets under an ‘oral’ agreement.

In course of time, Mr. Krishnan assigned the trademark rights to his wife and asked Mr. Murali to transform the oral agreement of all deals into a written format.

With relations getting strained between the siblings, Mr. Murali decided to quit the director’s post in 2010 and questioned the authority of his brother over trademark rights, stating that he has equal rights over the trademark of his late father.

Mr. Krishnan moved to the district court and later Madras High Court pleading with them to restrain Mr. Murali from using the trademark for the business.

The High Court, while dealing with pleas declined to restrain Mr. Murali from using the trademark on the grounds that ‘oral’ agreements do not stand legally valid.

Further, the High Court dismissed appeals preferred by the writ petitioner against the lower court’s refusal to grant interim relief and directed the district court to complete the trial within a year.

When the suit was ripe for trial, Mr. Murali filed petitions before the IPAB to get the petitioner’s trademark registrations cancelled.

The battle between the brothers is far from over.

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