Bajaj-TVS Litigation

First Publication Date: 14th December 2009

The litigation between Bajaj and TVS, which was very widely reported in the news showed the value of patents for gaining business advantage. The case briefs with respect to the litigation between the parties have been provided hereunder for the reader’s benefit. The cases relate to grant of injunction by the Court.
Bajaj Auto Vs. TVS Motor Company

Bajaj Auto Ltd. (“Bajaj”) acquired a patent with regard to an invention relating to the use of twin spark plugs for efficient combustion of lean air fuel mixture in small bore ranging from 45 mm to 70 mm internal combustion engine working on 4 stroke principle. TVS Motor Company Limited (“TVS”) launched motor bikes of 125-CC under the trade mark ‘FLAME’ powered with a lean burn internal combustion engine of bore size 54.5 mm with a twin spark plug configuration. Bajaj filed an infringement suit against TVS and applied for an interim injunction during the pendency of the suit.

The Court considered the existence of prima facie case, balance of convenience and inadequacy of compensation for making a decision on grant of interim injunction. It stated that the invention was novel and non-obvious because it was different from prior art, had been marketed without objection for five years and there was no proof that the invention was obvious. In such a situation, the court pointed out that Bajaj would have a prima facie case of validity of the patent. It further stated that the patented product’s extensive use in the market proved that it was enabled. As the grant of a patent creates a statutory monopoly, which protects the patentee against any unlicensed user of the patented devise enabling the patentee to get an order of injunction, and considering that a patent had been in existence for more than 5 years, the Court stated that there was a presumption of patent validity. As the product of TVS was similar to that of Bajaj, the Court observed that there was a prima facie case of infringement.

Considering the fact that Bajaj was in the market and its patent was for a limited period and it was in a crucial stage of development, the Court pointed out that TVS could not be permitted to interfere with Bajaj’s business, especially as TVS was a strong competitor to Bajaj. Furthermore, considering the fact that Bajaj had come up in the world market by sale of its product and its period was only for 20 years and there was every possibility for a new invention in the field by bringing the new product even before the time of expiry of patent granted to Bajaj and as such invention might be brought by Bajaj itself, the Court stated that quantum of damages which Bajaj might suffer in not granting injunction could not be ascertained in monetary sense. Because either party was in a position to pay damages if the other party succeeded, the court held that balance of convenience weighed in favour of Bajaj.

With regard to irreparable loss, the Court pointed out that damages could not be calculated because it was difficult to estimate the loss on Bajaj due to sales of TVS and competition in the market and therefore, Bajaj would be put under irreparable loss if injunction was not granted. The Court granted injunction because Bajaj had a prima facie case, the balance of convenience weighed in its favour and as damages was not an adequate remedy and irreparable loss would be caused if injunction was not granted.

TVS Motor Company Limited Vs. Bajaj Auto Limited

The case is a continuation of the litigation between the parties. In this case, TVS filed an application challenging the continuance of the interim injunction against it after six months.

After hearing the parties and analyzing the facts of the case, the Court discontinued the interim injunction granted against TVS. The Court compared the technologies used by Bajaj and TVS in the light of patents based on which such technologies have been implemented by the companies and held that the technologies were prima facie different from each other. While Bajaj’s technology sparked the ignition with twin plugs in a four stroke engine of a single cylinder with two valves in order to produce improved internal combustion in a lean burn mixture, the Court pointed out that TVS’s technology licensed from AVL Austria was valve centric as the two intake valves provided for combined air fuel mixture of swirl and tumble action, with a separate exhaust valve in an internal combustion engine of single cylinder with four stroke with the aid of twin plug provision. The Court pointed out that the technologies differed in the number of valves and positioning of the spark plugs. As both the technologies were patented in India, the Court observed that they were prima facie valid and deserve equal protection.

Considering the fact that the technologies achieve the result using different techniques, the Court stated that TVS’s technology does not prima facie infringe on Bajaj’s patent and therefore, Bajaj does not have a prima facie case of infringement. The Court further fortified its view stating that Bajaj does not have a prima facie case because the validity of the patent was in question in a revocation proceeding before the Appellate Board. The Court did not discuss about balance of convenience and irreparable loss because Bajaj failed to show prima facie case. In the light of its analysis, the Court discontinued the interim injunction granted to Bajaj as it did not show a prima facie case of infringement by TVS.

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