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Illegal and Unauthorized use of the acronym ‘ICAI’ by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India, says ICAI

ICAI - Taxscan

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on Sunday, said that the acronym ‘ICAI’ is a registered Trade Mark of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) with user date July 01, 1949.

The ICAI, being its registered proprietor or owner and prior user, is exclusively entitled to use the acronym ‘ICAI’ to denote its identity.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is the national professional accounting body of India. It was established on 1 July 1949 as a statutory body under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 enacted by the Parliament.

ICAI clarified News Item published in Times of India (Chennai Edition) dated 26th July 2020 with the tagline “Court refuses to stop cost accountants from using ICAI acronym”, which gives a blatantly wrong impression to the general public as if the Hon’ble Madras High Court has allowed the use of acronym ‘ICAI’ by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India which is totally erroneous and misplaced and does not flow from the judgment as has been wrongly reported in the national daily.

ICAI in its Public Renouncement said, “Needless to state that the Trademark right is a proprietary right and therefore only such owner of the Trademark, if aggrieved against any infringement of such trademark, has locus Standi and consequently a cause of action to initiate appropriate proceedings before the appropriate forum against such infringement and to seek the appropriate relief thereunder. Such proprietary right of the trademark is a right in personam and not a right in rem. Therefore, the petitioner, though a member of the third respondent, cannot be called as an aggrieved person, even to initiate the proceedings before such appropriate forum against the alleged infringement.”

“It is vehemently contended by the petitioner and the third respondent that availability of alternative remedy is not a bar for entertaining this writ petition and exercising the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. True, it is not that this Court is powerless or that availability of an alternative remedy will always be a bar for exercising the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. At the same time, it is to be noted that the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is a discretionary jurisdiction and hence it is not necessary for this Court to exercise such discretionary jurisdiction in all cases, notwithstanding the factum of availability of alternative remedy, even though a case is made out by the petitioner. In this case, the alternative remedy is a statutory remedy available under the separate enactment and when such remedy is not only efficacious and also the just and proper course of action, considering the dispute between the parties, in this case, this Court is of the firm view that the parties have to agitate the matter by availing the other alternative remedy and certainly not by pursuing this writ petition,” the ICAI said.

Being not satisfied with the above order dated February 20, 2018, of a learned single judge, the petitioner member filed a Writ Appeal before the division bench of Madras High Court and the Hon’ble Madras High Court vide its order dated July 22, 2020, has dismissed the Writ Appeal also on the various grounds.

Firstly, the appellant has no locus standi to maintain the Writ Petition. The ICAI is a body corporate established by statute with the right to sue or be sued in its name and the Petitioner (Appellant) cannot maintain the Petition.

Secondly, as regards the alleged violation of Section 24A of the CA Act, 1949, the prosecution can be done under Section 28 of the CA Act only by the Council or the Central Government.

Lastly, for the alleged violation of the Trade Marks Act, only ICAI as the Registered Proprietor of Trade Mark can sue for infringement and the Appellant has no locus standi for such infringement.

The High Court has nowhere allowed the Institute of Cost Accountants to use the acronym ‘ICAI’ as reported in the Newspaper but rather has dismissed the petition on the ground of lack of locus-standi of Petitioner and availability of alternative remedy to the owner of the Trade Mark under the respective laws. In this connection, it is brought to the notice of the Members, Students & General Public that the acronym ‘ICAI’ is a registered Trade Mark of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) [Trade Mark No. 2121118] with user date July 01, 1949. Therefore, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), being its registered proprietor/owner and prior user, is exclusively entitled to use the acronym ‘ICAI’ to denote its identity.

Any unauthorized/illegal use of the acronym ‘ICAI’ by any person/entity amounts to infringement of Trade Mark vested in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) as well as in contravention of other provisions of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.

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