India: Delhi High Court Relief To Apple For The 'Splitview'

The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has recently vacated the ex-parte ad-interim injunction order dated March 01, 2016 granted to the original plaintiffs by the learned Single Judge in Rohit Singh and Anr. v. Apple Inc [CS (COMM) 153/2016]. The Division Bench found that on the existing material before the learned Single Judge, case was not made out to grant ex parte ad interim injunction because an ex-parte ad-interim injunction in a matter concerning trademark violation should ensue only if a very strong prima-facie case is made out with respect to a trademark which is inherently distinctive.

Brief background

The Single Judge of the Delhi High Court vide order dated March 1, 2016 had directed the US technology major, Apple Inc, not to use the name 'SplitView' in any of its products or services such as iPad, iPhone, iOS, etc. after a little known Delhi-based software company Vyooh Low Level Computing LLP (hereinafter refered to as 'Vyooh') moved court, alleging trademark violation by Apple.

The suit for passing off was filed by a software developer Mr. Rohit Singh, who claims to work as a consultant with Vyooh, which owns the trademark for the name 'SplitView'. The suit had been filed jointly by Mr. Rohit Singh and Vyooh claiming that he had developed the software in 2005, which is meant for multitasking on a single display.

Apple is using the term "Split View" in both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, referring to a feature that lets people run two apps side-by-side in a full screen mode. The iOS 9 option only works on recently launched iPads, like the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro.

While deciding the application by the Plaintiffs for grant of ex-parte ad interim injunction against Apple, the learned Single Judge had observed that the plaintiffs had a prima facie case, availability of balance of convenience in their favor, and might suffering an irreparable injury in the absence of grant of injunction.

Thus, the Single Judge granted the injunction to the plaintiffs, restraining Apple from using the trademark Split View till final disposal of suit. Aggrieved by the aforesaid decision, Apple filed an appeal before the Division bench of the Delhi High Court, seeking vacation of the aforesaid order dated March 01, 2016.

Contentions by Apple Inc. (Appellants)

  1. That SplitView/ Split View is a descriptive term and cannot assume trademark significance. On this basis, Apple argued that Mr. Rohit Singh cannot claim proprietorship over the mark, let alone seek to restrain third parties from using it. Apple has used the descriptiveness argument, both to challenge the respondents' entitlement over SplitView as a trade mark and also as a form of defense to justify its use of Split View.
  2. That Apple is in fact a prior user of the word SplitView since 1993 through their predecessor in use NeXT Inc.
  3. If there are various methods to describe an essential feature and in particular concerning the functionality of a product, any one or more may be used and it is no argument that there are other words to describe the feature.
  4. Apple is selling the operating system OS X El Capitan and iOS which would be akin to a combo offer to purchase a basket having an integrated package comprising various elements and assuming each element is treated as a product, individually none is being sold and respondents' product is sold individually and this distinction would be akin to a situation where Apple has added matters.

Contentions by Mr. Rohit Singh & Vyooh (Respondents)

  1. Apple uses Split View as the name for the product feature – it appears as a stand-alone heading as the name and is not used as part of a sentence that merely demonstrates its functionality.
  2. Split View is written in capital letter which is indicative of trademark use and not descriptive use.
  3. Several other 'features' of the El Capitan Operating System i.e. Spotlight and Mission Control, which appear immediately after SplitView are all terms or words over which Apple has claimed trademark rights.
  4. For an ordinary consumer, there is no discernible difference between the manner in which Apple presents the Split View feature and the manner in which it presents the Spotlight or Mission Control feature, hence, there is no reason to assume that the ordinary consumer will perceive that Split View is being used in a descriptive sense by Apple and Spotlight or Mission Control are being used in a trademark sense.
  5. Apple has claimed trademark rights over several seemingly descriptive or suggestive words in the past and Split View, from the perspective of consumers is no different. It is in fact a common practice in the technology space to do so. Thus, Apple has claimed trademark rights over AirPrint, CarPlay, Cinema Tools, DVD@CCESS, DVD Studio Pro, FileVault, Final Cut, LaserWriter, LocalTlak, NetInfo, PhotoBooth, QuickDraw, App Store and to an ordinary consumer Split View is no different from this body of trademarks.

Observation/Decision of the Court

  1. The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, found that SplitView was in fact never used in conjunction with a monitor splitting or screen splitting functionality offered by a software product/application (app) and was in fact called NXSplitView/NSSplitView in certain developer toolkits to describe a certain functionality that was to be used by app developers. Further, SplitView or even NXSplitView is not in the list of trademarks owned by NeXT Inc. The test to determine priority in a mark is to determine continuous prior use and the volume of sales or the degree of public familiarity with the mark. Undisputedly, OS X El Capitan was launched only in 2015.
  2. That prima facie, Apple's product is doing the same thing as the respondents' i.e. split the window on the monitor so that two applications can be seen while being simultaneously operated.
  3. The respondents' use of SplitView for their software product clearly dates back to the year 2005.
  4. That it is prima facie evident that SplitView comprises two words, joined together in one unique collocation. The combination has prima facie to be considered unique, although the words individually may not be so. The Court after referring to Patent Applications filed before the European and United States Patent Offices observed that the contention made by Apple that people in the field of computer software programming use the words Split View to describe an essential feature of the function of the software programme is viable. There is a lot of conflicting material where consumers with imperfect recollection associate the words Split View as a trademark for the split screen feature and some associate the words as descriptive of an essential feature of a system where visually the computer screen shows two windows displaying two different contents.


In view of the above, the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court vide it's order dated April 7, 2016, held that a strong prima facie case was not made out for grant of an ex-parte ad-interim injunction against Apple Inc, and thus vacated the injunction order dated March 1, 2016 of the Single Judge. The Court further observed that it requires a strong consideration whether 'SplitView' is descriptive of an essential feature of the computer programme, thereby rendering it not eligible to be a trade mark as some consumers may refer to Split View as a trademark for the split screen feature and some associate the words as descriptive of an essential feature of a system. Apple has now been directed to file its written statement of defense along with documents relied upon by April 21, 2016. The Division Bench directed the parties to complete the pleadings within the stipulated time frame of five weeks and the learned Single Judge to hear the injunction application on May 9, 2016 and pronounce judgment before June 4, 2016.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.