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Kamdhenu Limited vs. Aashiana Rolling Mills Ltd.

A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court recently put quietus to one of the more hotly contested design infringement cases of the past few years as it dismissed the appeal filed by Kamdhenu Ltd. (“Kamdhenu”) against an order of the Single Judge of the Delhi High Court whereby Kamdhenu’s suit for infringement in its registered design on surface pattern of steel bars against Aashiana Rolling Mills (“Aashiana”) was summarily dismissed under Order XIII-A of the CPC, holding that the design in question was a prior published design and was, hence, falling foul of Section 4 of the Designs Act, 2000.

Kamdhenu claimed to have created a unique design having new/ original features of surface pattern comprising of double ribs applied to steel bars, for which it obtained design registration in 2013. The Ld. Single Judge, however, found that elements of this rod design were reasonably described in the British Standard BS4449-2005 rod specification, which was published in 2005, and, held that Kamdhenu’s design was incapable of registration.

The British Standard BS4449-2005 rod design was published as a marking for identification of the steel grade of steel bars and provided for the surface of the Grade B500C steel bars to carry a specified surface pattern of two transverse ribs at specified angles.

The Appellate Court, concurring with the decision of the Single Judge, observed that Kamdhenu had claimed novelty vide its design registration only in the surface pattern of two transverse ribs at acute angles and not in respect of any specified angle, and rejected Kamdhenu’s argument that there were minor variations in the angles of the ribs which resulted in different design from the B500C standard. The Court also rejected Kamdhenu’s contention that expert evidence should be allowed for determining novelty in its design. The Court held that the only test of novelty provided under the Designs Act is that of judging “solely by the eye” which could not be left to expert opinions, and, accordingly, dismissed the appeal.

Kamdhenu Limited vs. Aashiana Rolling Mills Ltd. [RFA(OS)(COMM) 4/2021]

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