Important RulingsRulings

HC holds that Nova has unauthorized reproduced Philips’ literary and artistic work, awards massive damages for infringement

Drafted by Swati Thounaojam

Delhi High court rules in favour of KONINLIJKE PHILIPS N.V. & ANR. (Plaintiffs). Holds that
Nova Manufacturing Industries Limited (Nova), Badri Electro Supply and Trading Company
(BESTCO) L.L.C (Bestco) and Omni Exim Private Limited (Omni) [collectively Defendants] have
infringed copyright of Plaintiffs and have resulted in loss of Plaintiffs’ goodwill and reputation in the
market, awards damages to Plaintiffs.

The Plaintiffs are a global conglomerate of electronic consumer goods while the Defendants are
engaged in the manufacture, advertisement, export, import etc. of electronic consumer goods
including beard trimmers under the trademark “NOVA”. In the present matter, the Plaintiffs had filed
suits in order to protect and enforce their statutory and common law rights in relation to their products
which form a part of Advanced Beard Trimmers series 3000 (product). The Plaintiffs allege that the
Defendants have infringed the registered designs of Plaintiff’s product and also adopted a packaging
deceptively similar to that of the Plaintiff’s product, thereby infringing the Plaintiff’s copyright and
enjoying huge profits as a result of deceiving customers.

Three broad issues are outlined before the High Court for examination

i) Issue of permanent injunction against Defendants for infringement of Plaintiff’s
registered design:

The Court examines the submissions and facts on record and observes that the Defendants have
blatantly copied the shape and configuration of Plaintiff’s products with mala fide intention of piggy
backing on the goodwill and reputation of Plaintiffs in the market. The Court concurs with Plaintiffs’
submission and states that activities of the Defendants constitutes piracy of the sole and exclusive,
statutory rights vested in Plaintiffs’ registered design under the Designs Act, 2000. The Court holds
that the Plaintiffs are held entitled to a decree of permanent injunction against the Defendants
restraining infringement of registered design as prayed for in paragraph 49(i) of CS(COMM)
737/2016.

ii) Issue of permanent injunction restraining infringement of copyright, passing off and
unfair competition against Defendants‘ unauthorised and brazen reproduction of the
plaintiffs‘ literary, artistic work as well as packaging and trade dress amounting to
infringement of copyright in terms of section 51 of the copyright act, 1957:

The Court examines the packaging of the Defendants’ product with Plaintiffs’ product and observed
that they were deceptively similar to each other and added that the consumers would be confused by
the packaging of the Defendants and confuse them with that of the Plaintiffs. The Court recognizes
Plaintiffs as the sole and exclusive owner of the right over the literary work, artistic work and the
photographs in its product literature and promotional material under the applicable provisions of the
Copyright Act, 1957. The Court holds that the unauthorized reproduction of Plaintiffs’ literary and
artistic work and packaging and trade dress by Defendants amounted to infringement of Plaintiffs’
rights under the Copyright Act, 1957. The Court holds Plaintiffs to be entitled to permanent injunction
restraining the Defendants from infringement of copyright, passing off and unfair competition.

iii) Issue of Compensatory Damages to be paid to Plaintiffs:

 

The Court further holds that Plaintiffs are entitled to compensatory damages to the extent of
Rs.69,96,000/- payable by Omni and Rs.1,45,75,000/- which is to be paid jointly and severally by
Nova and Bestco due to the blatant and repeated infringements of Plaintiffs’ rights by the Defendants.
iv) Issue of payment of aggravated/exemplary damages to the Plaintiffs:
The Court notes that the Defendants have violated the statutory and common law rights of the
Plaintiffs on multiple counts. The Court observes that Plaintiffs are the victims of the Defendants’
unlawful activities since not only have the Defendants violated the statutory rights of the Plaintiffs but
they have also suffered loss of goodwill and reputation at the hands of the Defendants. The Court
states that the law is well-settled that the degree of mala fide conduct has a direct impact on the
quantum and nature of damages that could be awarded in addition to a claim for actual / compensatory
damages. The Court also states the injury caused to the Plaintiffs has been aggravated by malice on
part of the Defendants. The Court further observes that the Defendants have enjoyed large profits by
the sale of the infringing product and the same should be taken into account while calculating the
quantum of aggravated damages.

The Court finds that compensatory damages is inadequate for the mala fide acts of the Defendants and
hence awards a larger aggravated/exemplary damages to deter the Defendants. Holds that Plaintiffs
are entitled to a decree of Rs.1,19,96,000/- (Rs. 69,96,000/- + Rs.50,00,000/-) against M/s Omni Exim
Private Limited and Rs.1,95,75,000/- (Rs. 1,45,75,000/- + Rs.50,00,000/-) jointly and severally
against M/s Nova Manufacturing Industries Limited (NOVA) and M/s Badri Electro Supply and
Trading Company (BESTCO) LLC.

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