India: Jurisdiction Invalid When Invoked on Vague Allegation to Inconvenience the Defendant

Last Updated: 11 August 2010
Article by Margaret Niangsiamkim

In a dispute with regard to copyright infringement between Krishan Industries v. Kimti Lal Sharma & Anr., a pertinent question with regard to territorial jurisdiction was adjudged. Herein the suit was filed by Krishan Industries under section 134 and 135 read with Section 27(2) of the Trademarks Act, 1999 and under Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957 praying inter alia that Kimti Lal Sharma and any of his agents be restrained from using any other trademark identical or deceptively similar to that of his trademark and from passing off their goods as those of his own. The other plea made by him was that Kimti Lal Sharma should be ordered to deliver up all goods bearing similar or deceptively similar trademark as that of his packing materials, cartons broachers, stickers etc. having trademark similar or deceptively to that of his own. It was also prayed that he be directed to render the accounts of its trade activities and should be restrained from disposing of or dealing the assets as its own manufacturing units and premises or other assets not known to him. He also claimed damages of Rs. 20,05,000/-

Coming to the issue of jurisdiction, the title of the plaint disclosed that Krishna Industries was located at Phagwara in Punjab and Kimti Lal Sharma was located in Jalandhar, also in Punjab. The Jurisdiction of the Delhi HC was invoked by Krishan Industries on the ground that Kimti Lal Sharma was selling and marketing his goods in Delhi and soliciting trade and business from Delhi and other parts of the country and has filed the Trademark application in the office of Registrar of Trade Mark , Delhi and has obtained registration of its Trademark on all India basis including New Delhi. It was also contended that Krishan Industries were selling its goods under the impugned trademark and has goodwill and reputation about this trademark in Delhi which is being tarnished by Kimti Lal Sharma's enterprise.

Since, neither of the parties to the dispute were doing or working for gain in Delhi, the provisions of Section 134(2) of the Trademarks Act or under Section 62(2) of the Copyright Act or Section 20(a), (b) CPC could not be pressed into service by Krishan Industries for invoking jurisdiction of this Court. The only thing to be seen was said to be the issue whether territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court could be invoked on the ground that goods produced by either of the parties were being sold in Delhi. Krishan Industries herein did not give the name of any shop or place in Delhi where the goods were being sold by Kimti Lal Sharma and hence the alleged infringement taking place. Except making vague and bald averments that the goods of the defendants were being sold in Delhi, without giving any substantial evidence in support of its averments and without placing on record any bill of purchasing goods in Delhi, Krishan Industries invoked the territorial jurisdiction of this Court.

The Court noted that the party being from Phagwara, could have also filed the suit in Punjab where the defendants were also doing business. Invocation of jurisdiction on the basis of vague allegations that the goods of the defendants were being sold throughout the country including Delhi made no sense. The court stated that they could not be used as a tool to put a heavy burden of litigation on the defendant at a far off place so as to inconvenience him to defend his case.

Krishan Industries admitted that the Kimti Lal Sharma was a registered owner of the Trademark, so no case for infringement of trademark was made out against him, in view of the provisions of Section 28(3) and 29 of the Trademark Act. Thus the claim as against Kimti Lal Sharma could at the most be one of passing off, the law being well settled in view of the judgement in Dodha House v. SK Maingi, (2006) 9 SCC 41: 2006 (32) PTC 1[SC] wherein it was held that it was possible that the goods manufactured by the plaintiff were available in the markets in Delhi or they are sold in Delhi, but that by itself would not mean that the plaintiff carries on any business in Delhi. Placing reliance on thejudgemnet, it was held that the Delhi HC had no jurisdiction to entertain the instant suit and the plaint is liable to be returned to Krishan Industries to be filed at the Court of appropriate territorial jurisdiction.

© Lex Orbis 2010

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