India: Vior (International) Ltd. And Ors. v. Maxycon Health Care Private Limited And Ors.

Last Updated: 1 July 2019
Article by Maahi Mayuri

In 2018, the Delhi High Court in the case of Vior (International) Ltd. and Ors.vs. Maxycon Health Care Private Limited and Ors., the Delhi High Court pronounced a judgement holding that the right of the Plaintiffs was violated by the defendants and that the same amounts to infringement. Reliefs were granted to the plaintiffs under Section 48 of the Patents Act as well as Section 51 r/w Sec 14 of the Copyright Act 1957. The court held that the defendants infringed the rights granted to the plaintiffs under Sec 8 of the Patents Act by unauthorized manufacturing as well as selling of the patented products as well as copying the content of the plaintiff's website under the Copyrights Act.

Facts of the Case:

A Switzerland based Company, Vior (international) Ltd. (Plaintiff 1) Exclusively owns the Patent No. 221536 registered in India. The patent is a process on Ferric Carboxymaltose which is a novel water-soluble iron carbohydrate complex of iron (ferric) and oxidation product. Its process of preparation is novel as well. The patent is used in the treatment of iron deficiency through intravenous treatment when oral iron preparations fail to act or cannot be administered. The patent is valid for a term of 20 years from 20th October 2003 in India. Vior International granted a license to the Plaintiff 2 who is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956. The plaintiff No. 2 was asked to manufacture and commercialize the patented product.

The defendants misrepresented themselves to be the licensee of the plaintiff 1 through their website to manufacture and commercialize the said patent. Further, the defendants copied the content as well as write-ups available on the plaintiff no. 2's website. Such activities on the defendant's part amounted to unlawful enrichment as well as dilution of plaintiffs brand image. An ad-interim injunction was issued by the court against the defendants but they continued their infringing activities. Thus, the court proceeded against the defendant's ex parte.

Thus, the issues that were before the court were:

1. Whether the defendant's acts which involved the manufacture, as well as the sale of the patented products, amounted to an infringement of the plaintiff's rights?

2. Whether the defendant's act of misrepresenting himself as the defendant's licensee for the impugned patent amounted to an infringement of the plaintiff's patent rights?

3. Whether the act of the defendant which involved copying the plaintiff no. 2's website would amount to infringement of Plaintiff No. 2's copyright?

Contentions of the Plaintiff

The plaintiffs put forward the contention that the defendants are unconstitutional, oppressive as well as arbitrary. The plaintiff's relied upon the evidence as presented by the sole witness, Shri Pankaj Ahuja. Further, the plaintiff's also relied upon the judgement of the Delhi High Court as in Hindustan Unilever Limited v. Reckitt Benckiser India Limited, 2014, claimed damages of up to INR 1,00,01,00. The plaintiffs further claimed punitive damages based upon the judgement of Jockey International Inc&Anr v. R. Chandra Mohan &Ors. where the Hon'ble Court opined that the person who voluntarily chooses to stay away from court proceedings must not enjoy the benefits of the same.

Ratio Decidendi

The learned court took under consideration Section 48 of the Patents Act, 1971 and held that the acts of the defendants where they deal with impugned API is clearly related to the plaintiff's patented products and their acts clearly infringed rights of the plaintiff under the section. Further, the court examined the issue of copying of literary works and held that the acts of the defendants of blatantly copying content from the plaintiff's website show that such adoption is mala fide with a clear intention on the defendant's part to save himself from labour. Further, the misrepresentation on the defendant's part to be an authorized licensee of the Plaintiff No. 1 amounted to a tort of malicious falsehood.

The court also relied on the judgement of Rookes v Barnard in 1964 and awarded damages in such a way so as to not only compensate the plaintiffs for the loss sustained by them but also to impose punishment on the defendants further vindicating a distinction between a wilful and an innocent wrongdoer.

The Decision of the Court

Thus, the court held that the acts of the defendants amount to infringement of the plaintiff's patent and copyright and in view thereof, imposed damages worth INR 10,00,000 in favour of the plaintiffs and against the defendants by the reason of infringing trade dress, registered marks and for the violation of the interim order which was earlier passed by the Hon'ble Court.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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