Monday, October 8, 2012

TVS-Bajaj Patent Dispute: When Will the Joint Trial Begin?

Following is a timeline of the TVS-Bajaj twin-spark plug patent dispute which is pending before the Madras High Court:

  1. TVS filed a suit, C.S.No.979/2007, before the Madras High Court against Bajaj Auto Limited on grounds that Bajaj’s threats of infringement of its patent IN195904 by TVS were groundless. TVS also sought a declaratory judgment that its 125CC bike “Flame” did not infringe Bajaj’s patent. An interim relief was sought to restrain Bajaj from interfering with the manufacture and sale of “Flame”.
  2. Bajaj filed a suit, C.S.No.1111/2007, before the Madras High Court against TVS for infringement of its patent IN195904. Among other reliefs, an interim injunction was also sought.
  3. 19.12.2007- Single Judge of Madras High Court restrained TVS from booking “any further orders” with the liberty to execute orders which had already been received.
  4. 20.12.2007- TVS appealed and a Division Bench (DB) of Madras High Court set aside the Single Judge’s order
  5. 18.01.2008- Bajaj filed Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court. SC set aside the Division Bench’s order and permitted sale of TVS’s bikes booked until 18.01.2008. However, according to the SC, no further bookings were to be received by TVS until 28.01.2008. Also, SC directed the Single Judge of Madras HC to take up hearing of interim applications on 29.01.2008.
  6. 29.01.2008- Madras HC Single Judge commenced hearing. TVS undertook to not receive any further booking in respect of “Flame”. Matter gets listed for hearing on 30.01.2008
  7. Hearing commenced on 30.01.2008.
  8. February 16, 2008- Madras HC Single Judge issued an interim injunction against TVS in favour of Bajaj
  9. TVS appealed to a Division Bench of the High Court and on May 18, 2009, DB vacated the interim injunction and ordered expedited trial in the matter
  10. Against the order of the DB, Bajaj filed an SLP before the Supreme Court. On September 16, 2009, SC chose not to interfere with the Madras DB’s order and directed expedited trial. Also, the Single Judge of Madras HC was directed to dispose off the suit by November 30, 2009.
  11. November 25, 2009- Issues were framed by the Single Judge of Mad HC
  12. March 10, 2010- Single Judge of Madras HC ordered Bajaj to prove its case first.
  13. October 4, 2010- Bajaj again appealed to the DB against the order dated March 10, 2010. In the appeal, the DB of Madras HC ordered TVS to prove its case first since it was the first party to file C.S.No.979 of 2007. In other words, since it was the plaintiff in the suit for groundless threats of infringement (which was filed first), the onus was on TVS to prove non-infringement of Bajaj’s patent. Therefore, TVS had to first lead evidence of non-infringement.
  14. September 21, 2011- TVS’s application under Order 18, Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure and application for joint trial were allowed by the Single Judge of the Madras HC.
According to the Supreme Court’s order of September 16, 2009, the suits were to be disposed off by November 30, 2009. After the last order of September 21, 2011, I am not sure if any more orders were passed in the matter. The Madras HC’s official website too does not seem to contain a list of orders passed in the matter after September 2011.

One hopes the joint trial in this matter commences soon because it would be interesting to see an Indian Court apply the law in a non-pharma patent trial. 

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