The Delhi High Court, recently, while refusing to overturn the dismissal of Appellant/Defendant’s application for return of plaint by the court of first instance, upheld the maintainability of quia timet actions in trademark infringement suits and also upheld the apprehension of infringement of Plaintiff’s trademark in the Court’s jurisdiction as valid reason for instituting the suit in that jurisdiction.
The Appellant/Defendant had filed an application under Order 7 Rule 10 and 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure seeking return of plaint due to lack of territorial jurisdiction alleging that only the sales office of the Plaintiff was located within the Trial Court’s jurisdiction and not the registered office, and also on the ground that a suit for injunction on the basis of mere apprehension cannot be maintained without cause. The Trial Court rejected the Appellant/Defendant’s arguments and observed that presence of a subordinate office of the Plaintiff within its jurisdiction coupled with Plaintiff’s perceived threat from the Defendant as to sales of infringing products within the jurisdiction of the Trial Court satisfied the requirements of jurisdiction.
The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, while dismissing the appeal, found no reason to strike down the suit for lack of jurisdiction as the Respondent/Plaintiff’s cause of action was based not only on its sales office being located within the court’s jurisdiction, but also on the Appellant/Defendant being in the process of launching the infringing products within the Trial Court’s jurisdiction. The court also rejected the Appellant/Defendant’s argument that mere apprehension of sale of infringing goods in the future will not amount to cause of action and held that such suits, also known as quia timet suits, ensure that aggrieved parties on whom the threat of potential infringement looms large are not left remediless, and accordingly dismissed the appeal