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Food for Thought: IP Battle Over Butter Chicken

June 13, 2024


The Delhi High Court reportedly had its initial hearing of Rupa Gujral and Ors v. Daryaganj Hospitality Private Limited and Ors in early 2024. The plaintiff, a famous restaurant chain, Moti Mahal, brought the claim against Daryaganj, a restaurant approximately one century younger than the plaintiff.

The case requires the Court to determine the origin of two of India’s most internationally popular dishes: Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani.

Moti Mahal claims that its founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, invented the two curry dishes and that the defendant falsely claims that it was its owner’s grandfather, Kundan Lal Jaggi, who invented the dishes in partnership with Gujral. The plaintiff further claimed that Daryaganj created a false sense of connection between itself and the Moti Mahal brand.

There are multiple ‘ingredients’ in the intellectual property issue faced in this case. For one, the recipe itself forms part of a trade secret. Meanwhile, the branding used to sell the dishes to the public falls under the realm of trademark law.

The Court will likely need to rely on circumstantial evidence to decide whether Moti Mahal is entitled to sole rights of branding related to the dishes.


Authors: Noa Rapaport and Kasia Donovan


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