HC rejects Cadila plea for exclusive use of 'sugar free' tag

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has turned down the plea of drug firm Cadila Healthcare seeking to restrain Diat Foods from using the 'sugar free' tag for low calorie food products, reports PTI.

A bench headed by Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Valmiki J Mehta said the expression, 'sugar free', cannot be restricted if used in descriptive sense and without the intent of causing confusion among customers.

"There is no restraint on the respondent (Diat Foods) using the expression 'sugar free'. The use of the word, 'sugar free' in descriptive sense or otherwise cannot be restricted, though it should be used in a manner so as to avoid confusion by not indicating a connection with the product of Cadila Healthcare," the court said.

However, the court said the 'sugar free' tag cannot be used with greater prominence or with a larger font size than the other distinctive character of the product and granted 30 days time to Diat Foods to exhaust existing packaging stocks.

"The expression 'sugar free' should not be used with greater prominence and a larger font size than 'Sugarless Bliss' and 'Sweetened with Splenda' (which are used on the packets of Cadila's products). Diat Foods is granted 30 days' time to exhaust existing stocks of packaging," the court said.

Cadila Healthcare contended that Diat Food has been using the trademark, 'sugar free', which is identical, or deceptively similar to its trademark.

It further contended that Diat Food has used its trademark, 'sugar free', with a bigger font size and bright colour for its product, 'Sugar Free Cookies', so as to make it almost indistinguishable from Cadila's products.

However, the court rejected the contention of the firm and said the trademark, 'sugar free', cannot be said to be a coined word and at best a combination of two popular English words. Such adoption entitles other in the field to use the expression unless attempts were made to cause confusion among customers.

"Cadila Healthcare's trademark, 'sugar free', cannot be said to be a coined word and was at best a combination of two popular English words. Such adoption naturally entails the reason that others in the field would also be entitled to use such phrases, provided no attempt is made to ride on the bandwagon of the appellant (Cadila Healthcare)," the court said.


Govt to launch NELP-IX next week

New Delhi: The government will next week launch the 9th round of auction under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) for the oil and gas sector, reports PTI.

The government is likely to offer about 34 blocks under NELP-IX which will be formally launched on 15th October, a senior oil ministry official said.

"Petroleum minister Murli Deora will lead a pre-launch roadshow in London this week to attract big names to the round," he said.

There will be will be a roadshow in Mumbai on 18th October while international roadshows will be decided later.

"Last date for bidding for blocks offered under NELP-IX will be 18 March 2011," he said.

In the eight rounds of NELP since 1999, 235 blocks have been awarded till date. This has resulted in enhancement of exploration coverage from 11% to about 58% of Indian sedimentary basin between 2000 and 2010.

"The discoveries made under the NELP have resulted in in-place hydrocarbon reserve accretion of a staggering 642 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas," he said.

A total of 81 oil and gas discoveries have been made in 23 blocks under NELP during this period.

"With more exploration under progress, more oil and gas discoveries can be expected," the official said.

Out of 81 oil and gas discoveries, natural gas production in Reliance Industries’ (RIL) eastern offshore KG-D6 block commenced from April 2009.

The 8th round that closed on 12 October 2009 attracted investment commitment of $1.34 billion in 36 blocks that attracted offers. 70 areas or blocks for exploration were offered in NELP-VIII, the largest licensing round in India.

Of the 36 areas bid for, the government had awarded only 33 blocks to successful bidders.

NELP-VIII was launched when the world economies were in recession yet the investment committed was more than $1.7 billion in the 44 blocks that went out, the official said.

The round, he said, fared better than licensing rounds elsewhere in the world where even hydrocarbon rich nations like Brazil and Algeria attracted bids for less than half of the blocks on offer.

The official said unlike NELP-VIII when simultaneously 10 coal bed methane (CBM) blocks for harnessing gas lying below coal seams, were offered, no CBM areas would be offered in the latest round.

The official said the government expects a better response as economic situation has improved tremendously since the last round and international crude oil prices have stabilised in the $70-80 band, a comfort zone for both the producers and consumers of oil.


Moderate hike in wheat MSP likely; pulses to get more support

New Delhi: The support price for wheat is likely to be hiked by a nominal Rs20 in the rabi season, but the procurement rate for pulses could go up sharply, as the government wants to reduce dependence on imports for this commodity, reports PTI.

According to official sources, the agriculture ministry has proposed a Rs20 hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat to Rs1,120 a quintal, while the MSP for pulses could be hiked by up to Rs420 a quintal.

In the pulses category, the MSP of masoor may increase to Rs2,250 from Rs1,830 per quintal, while that of gram could rise from Rs2,100 from Rs1,760 per quintal. MSP for mustard seeds would be raised marginally by Rs20 to Rs1,850 per quintal.

The proposal to increase the MSP of rabi crops is likely to be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) this week, sources said.

The government aims to increase the pulses output by two million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year to 16.5 million tonnes. To achieve this, it had raised the MSP of kharif pulses significantly and now it plans to do the same for rabi pulses such as gram and masoor.

Higher support prices for kharif pulses had resulted in a sharp jump in acreage under cultivation and production is estimated to rise to 6 million tonnes in the kharif season of the 2010-11 crop year from 4.3 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

India, the largest producer of pulses, has to import 3-4 million tonnes every fiscal to meet domestic demand of 18-19 million tonnes.

In the case of wheat, the ministry plans to give only a slight hike to the MSP, keeping in mind that food inflation is hovering above 16 per cent, sources said.

In addition, unlike pulses, India is self-sufficient in wheat production and harvested record crop of 80.71 million tonnes in 2009-10, beating the previous year's record, they added.

The proposed hike in MSP is based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

The sowing of rabi crops like wheat commenced this month and will continue till December. These crops will be harvested from April, 2011.


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