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In a landmark Judgment which could change the landscape of Patent litigation in India, the Supreme Court has pronounced the judgment on the Bajaj v. TVS’s appeal on injunction today (16th Sept).  Copy of the Supreme court judgment on Bajaj v. TVS’s appeal can be downloaded (Bajaj V TVS SC )here

The bench consisting of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice AK Ganguly judged that

1. The matter is to be disposed on merits at the Chennai HC, with directions to complete the full trial and pronounce orders latest by 30th November 2009.

2. TVS has been allowed to sell its bikes with Twin Spark Plugs, with a Court Receiver being appointed to maintain books of Profit.

3. Issues directive for lower courts for IP litigation.

For background understanding of our readers, below is a synopsis of the facts of the case

  • In  Dec 2007 Bajaj claimed TVS had infringed the Patent and filed an infringement suit at Chennai HC against TVS.  Single Judge of the Madras HC issued a temporary injunction  on 16th February, 2008 of the Manufacture and sale of TVS Bikes with alleged infringed twin spark plug.
  • TVS appealed against this decision at the Division Bench of the Chennai HC against the injunction and the Division Bench Madras HC on 18 May, 2009 had decided prima facie that there was no infringement by TVS and allowed TVS to manufacture and sell the bikes.
  • Bajaj then appealed at the Supreme Court against the Madras Division bench decision and the Supreme Court issued an interim order (dt 08th June, 2009) allowing TVS to manufacture but restrained it from selling till the final order is passed.
  • Today’s judgment is the final order passed by the  Supreme court on the appeal on injunction.

The prime importance  that comes out from this judgment  is the direction issued by the SC in relation to the infringement cases handled in the country.

Disapponted that the matter in the Madras HC has been pending for more than 2 years, the Apex court sets guidelines for IP litigation.

In Page  3- 4 of the judgment (enclosed), the bench had cited a case of M/s. Shree Vardhman Rice & Gen Mills vs. M/s Amar Singh Chawalwala  (No.21594 of 2009 decided on 07th September, 2009) where the court noted that :

“…Without going into the merits of the controversy, we are of the opinion that the matters relating to trademarks, copyrights and patents should be finally decided very expeditiously by the Trial Court instead of merely granting or refusing to grant injunction. Experience shows that in the matters of trademarks, copyrights and patents, litigation is mainly fought between the parties about the temporary injunction and that goes on for years and years and the result is that the suit is hardly decided finally. This is not proper.

Proviso (a) to Order XVII Rule 1(2)C.P.C. states that when the hearing of the suit has commenced, it shall be continued from day-to-day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Court finds that, for exceptional reasons to be recorded by it the adjournment of the hearing beyond the following day is necessary. The Court should also observe clauses (b) to (e) of the said proviso.

In our opinion, in matters relating to trademarks, copyright and patents the proviso to Order XVII Rule 1(2) C.P.C. should be strictly complied with by all the Courts, and the hearing of the suit in such matters should proceed on day to day basis and the final judgment should be given normally within four months from the date of the filing of the suit.” (Emphasis Added)

The SC reiterated this stance in today’s judgment  (Pg 4) and observed that

“As has been observed by us in the aforesaid case, experience has shown that in our country, suits relating to the matters of patents, trademarks and copyrights are pending for years and years and litigation is mainly fought between the parties about the temporary injunction. This is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and hence we had passed the above quoted order in the above-mentioned case to serve the ends of justice. We direct that the directions in the aforesaid order be carried out by all courts and tribunals in this country punctually and faithfully(Emphasis Added)

This is a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court and would form basis of litigating other Intellectual Property Rights related cases in India. The Trial court is supposed to give the judgment on merits within 4 months and the matters must proceed on day to day basis.

If followed, this will drastically change the working of Indian courts in Intellectual Property litigation scene and be a positive step towards a strong Intellectual Property enforcement regime in India.