India: Permanent Injunction Granted For Violation Of Patent To KENT

Last Updated: 18 December 2009

In an attempt to assert one's rights in a patent, the recent case of Mahesh Gupta & Anr. v. Tej Singh Yadav & anr. [2009 (41) PTC 109 (Del)] witnessed the Delhi High Court grant an order of permanent injunction as mandated under the provisions of the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The present suit was brought before the Court in respect of alleged infringement being caused to the rights on KENT Mineral RO, a product manufactured by a company under the aegis of the plaintiff Mahesh Gupta. The patent dealing in reverse osmosis technology was alleged to be infringed by PUROCOM, manufactured by a company for which Tej Singh acted as a defendant. In this view, an injunction was prayed for in order to restrain the manufacturers of PUROCOM from infringing the registered patent held by KENT and for delivery of the infringing materials and also rendition of account and damages.

Mahesh Gupta in their plaint stated the revolutionary patented process of Reverse Osmosis was introduced in 1999, whereby the water is purified retaining the essential minerals and the same was marketed under the mark KENT Mineral Ro. They claimed to have made large investments for research and development for the unique water purifier as well as on advertising through Television and print. The product was also claimed to be sold outside India but also in countries like Nepal, Kenya, and New Zealand the sale of the purifier to be worth over 10 Crores.

It was contended that Mahesh Gupta in May 2008 came across a newspaper magazine advertisement which indicated that water purifier named PUROCOM was infringing their rights in the patent. In this pursuance Mahesh Gupta filed a suit to which a compromise was arrived at on the condition that PUROCOM would not infringe the patent rights held in KENT's product. An application under Order 23 Rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 that they will not infringe the design, copyright and trade dress of KENT. However, later it was observed that Tej Singh and co-defendants had introduced another product having a different shape but employing the same technology in pursuance of which the present suit was filed. Mahesh Gupta alleged that the water purifier fully and completely infringed the claims of KENT's patent and that PUROCOM was attempting to make unreasonable profit vide the infringement.

Further it was contended that the essential and key aspects of the patent had been slavishly copied and put to use in the impugned water purifier in bad faith with an intent to misrepresent to the general public that the products and business owe their origin to/or are licensed by KENT and calculated to cause damage to the exclusive proprietary rights and the goodwill of KENT's water purifier. An order for permanent injunction and as also rendition of accounts, delivery up of all infringing material and damages amounting to Rs. 21 Lakhs were prayed for.

On a comparison of claims, the Court confirmed that the manufacturers of PUROCOM were guilty of infringement, passing off, unfair trading and competition. The brochures were also found to contain similar material leading to blatant and flagrant infringement of copyright in the same. Taking note of the investment made in marketing, the repute acquired therefrom, the Court confirmed that bad faith was inherent and the intent to misrepresent the products to have a link or common origin was present. In deciding the issue, the Court took note of Raj Prakash v. Mangat Ram Chowdhry and Ors. AIR 1978 Del 1 to construe the overlap of claims and invention.

In respect of this case, the Court had earlier ordered an ex-parte interim order along with the appointment of Local Commissioner to take into custody the infringing goods including literary material. In this pursuance, the Local Commissioner submitted a report stating that no infringing material was found on the premises of the alleged infringer. The defendants not having made an appearance nor having filed a written statement, the case was unrepresented from PUROCOM's side. The Court stated that a case for grant of permanent injunction was existent. However on account of damages, the absence of any infringing material having been found as also cogent evidence, the same was declined.

© Lex Orbis 2009

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