‘Territorial jurisdiction’ has become a burning issue recently before the Supreme Court and High Courts. The conflicting decisions of Allahabad High Court in Civil Appeal No. 6248 of 1997 and Delhi High Court in Civil Appeal No. 16 of 1999 relating to territorial jurisdiction led to the decision of Dhodha House & Patel Field Marshal Industries v. S.J.Maingi & P.M.Diesel Ltd. (2006(32) PTC 1 (SC)) by the Supreme Court. The law after Dodha’s case is now settled that the court shall not readily presume the existence of jurisdiction of a court, which was not conferred by the statute. For the purpose of invoking the jurisdiction of a court, joining two causes of action in terms of the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure would not mean that thereby jurisdiction can be conferred upon a court which had jurisdiction to try only the suit in respect of one cause of action and not the other. It was further held that the filing of application for registration of the trade mark in the Trade Mark Registry, Delhi would not give jurisdiction to the Delhi High Court. But the Supreme Court later on in Pfizer Products, Inc. v. Rajesh Chopra & Others (CS (OS) No. 311/2005 in IA No. 347/2006 decided on 8th February 2006) has opined that the application for registration in the Trade Mark Registry in Delhi would also confer jurisdiction to the Delhi High Court.
LG Corporation & Anr. v. Intermarket Electroplasters (P) Ltd. & Anr.(2006 (32) PTC 429(Del.)) has once again brought the issue of territorial jurisdiction before the Delhi High Court. The defendant moved an application under Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC (which was essentially an application under Order 7 Rule 10 CPC) for return/rejection of the plaint on the ground that the Delhi High Court had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit. Though the petitioner claimed jurisdiction on the basis that the application for registration of the trade mark was filed on the Trade Mark Registry in Delhi and advertised in Delhi, in view of the provisions of Section 134 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and in view of the fact that the defendant was selling the goods within the territorial jurisdiction of this court but after the decision of Dodha’s case he conceded that he could not claim jurisdiction on first two grounds but submitted that this court had territorial jurisdiction, once it was proved that the goods were sold in Delhi.
If the defendant actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business, or personally works for gain within the territorial jurisdiction of a court then that court will have the jurisdiction. Relying on the judgement of Dodha the Delhi High Court held that it had the jurisdiction because the sale of the goods by the defendant in Delhi, which were the infringing goods and violated the trade mark of the plaintiff gave rise to the cause of action. It was further held:
"It has to be left to be determined in each individual case as to where cause of action arises. The jurisdiction is conferred upon a court even when part of cause of action arises. It is the sale of goods in Delhi by the defendant which has given cause to the plaintiff to enforce the legal remedy for redress. Fact of the sale of infringing goods in Delhi has the nexus and relevance with the lis that is involved in the case. It has, in fact, a direct bearing with the lis or the dispute on the basis of which grievances is raised by the plaintiff".
The court following Dhodha’s case and Pfizer’s case established firstly, that where even a part of cause of action arose, there was no question of refusing to exercise jurisdiction and secondly, that the application for registration in the Trade Mark Registry in Delhi would also confer jurisdiction to the Delhi High Court.
The territorial jurisdiction to institute a trade mark infringement or copyright infringement case is turning into a battleground with contrary views being taken by the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court.
At least the Delhi High Court thinks so. In a recent judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in the case of The Chancellor, Masters & Scholars of the University of Oxford & Others Vs. Rameshwari Photocopy Services & Another, . . .
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