The State Express Transport Corporation of Tamil Nadu had applied for a trademark for ‘Amma Mineral Water’ at the Trademarks Registry in Chennai. ‘Amma Water’ is a product of Amma Mineral Water manufacturing units set up in 2013 by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa; this had been done on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government transport corporations to provide “hygienic and sterile drinking water at affordable price.” The packaged drinking water was being sold to the long-distance bus commuters for Rs. 10 per litre and is considerably cheaper than its counterpart ‘Rail Neer’ which purportedly costs Rs. 15/L.
The Registrar of Trademarks at the Office of the Trademarks Registry had found that similar trademarks had already been registered and had asked the applicant to submit its response. The Registrar said that the trademark application is liable to be rejected because the applicant had failed to submit its response on time.
The State Express Transport Corporation Tamil Nadu Limited had applied for trademark registration on August 14, 2013. On examination of the application, the Registrar had placed it in the “objected list” because similar marks for similar goods/services already exist.
M.S. Kamble, the Registrar of Trademarks, said that the trademark is devoid of distinctive character and would most likely be rejected.
The ground for placing ‘Amma Mineral Water’ in the objected list is section 11 of the Act which contains the relative grounds for refusal of the mark, one such condition being that the same/similar marks exist for same/similar goods/services.
‘Amma Mineral Water’ is an obvious reference to the former CM of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa, who is affectionately referred to as “Amma” (mother) by her admirers. When ‘Amma Mineral Water’ was launched, it was viewed by her critics as a populist measure. Subsequently, low-cost canteens going by the name of ‘Amma Canteen’ and ‘Amma Salt’ were also launched by Amma’s government.