Haldiram sues Georgia company, claiming counterfeiting

Indian food producer Haldiram has filed a lawsuit against Georgia-based distributor Aahar Food, alleging trademark infringement and counterfeiting.

The company has been expanding its presence in the US in the last few years – including online through an agreement with Amazon – and sells a range of more than 280 products including ready-to-eat meals, breads, samosas, snacks, beverages and candies.

The suit claims that Stone Mountain-based Aahar has been importing and selling food products that weren't made by Haldiram, but were packaged with the company's logo and brand name.  It also accuses the distributor of using signage, advertising and promotional materials featuring Haldiram's trademarks without consent.

Haldiram says it sent a letter to Aahar in January registering its objections. The distributor never replied, the lawsuit asserts, but did send out messages to some of its retailers "falsely asserting [it] has the right to use the Haldiram designation in the US."

The actions "are likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the origin of such goods," it continues, and that amounts to unfair competition "in the form of false representation, and false designation of origin in interstate commerce."

The suit is seeking a permanent injunction on any activity that involves counterfeiting of Haldiram's trademarks, use of those marks "or any designation confusingly similar", and making any statement indicating an association with the trademark owner.

It is also seeking damages of not less than $2m per infringed trademark, seizure of profits from the sale of counterfeits, as well as costs, according to court documents. The suit has been filed in the US district court for the northern district of Georgia.

In 2019 privately-held Haldiram – which says it is India's largest snack maker – said that around 40 per cent of its revenues came from the US market, equivalent to around $17m in annual sales. Its US turnover is driven in part by sales to Indian ex-pats living in the US.

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