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KFC Cannot Claim Exclusive Right Over Use Of Word 'Chicken': Delhi HC

The court's observation came on appeal by Kentucky Fried Chicken International Holdings LLC against the refusal by the Senior Examiner of Trademarks to register “Chicken Zinger” as its trade mark. 

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Multinational fast food restaurant chain KFC cannot claim any exclusive rights in relation to the use of the word “chicken”, the Delhi High Court has said. 

The court's observation came on appeal by Kentucky Fried Chicken International Holdings LLC against the refusal by the Senior Examiner of Trademarks to register “Chicken Zinger” as its trade mark. While setting aside the order, the court directed the Trademark Registry to proceed with the advertisement in relation to registration application for the mark “Chicken Zinger” within three months and decide any opposition to the registration. 

“It is clarified that Appellant shall not have any exclusive rights in the word “Chicken”. Trademarks Registry shall reflect this disclaimer at the time of advertisement of subject mark and also if subject mark ultimately proceeds for registration,” said Justice Sanjeev Narula in a recent order.  

The court observed that the mark in question consisted of two words – “Chicken" and “Zinger" and their use together “does not draw an instant connection”. “The dictionary meaning of 'Zinger' is 'a thing outstandingly good of its kind' or 'a wisecrack; punch line' or 'a surprise question; an unexpected turn of events'. Use of 'Zinger' in conjunction with 'Chicken' does not draw an instant connection with the kind of goods/ services and may at best, be considered suggestive,” noted the court. 

The court further observed that KFC nonetheless holds registration of the word marks 'Zinger' and 'Paneer Zinger' and the rejection of registration for 'Chicken Zinger' seemed to be based on the use of the word “Chicken', over which, the restaurant chain cannot have any exclusivity and no such claim was also being asserted.

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