The Delhi High Court, recently, directed Maharaja Appliances Limited (“Defendant”) to pay INR 50 lakhs in damages and Rs. 31.4 lakhs in actual costs to Strix Ltd. (“Plaintiff”) for infringing Plaintiff’s patent (“Suit Patent”) related to a “Liquid Heating Vessel”.
The brief fact of the case is that Defendant used to purchase temperature controls from Plaintiff before it started importing kettles with these controls from a Chinese company. It was the Plaintiff's case that one (1) of the Defendant’s kettle models (Model no. EK-172) used sensors and temperature controls covered by the Plaintiff’s Suit Patent. The Court, after a prima facie consideration of the facts of the case, granted an interim injunction in the Plaintiff’s favour in 2009, which remained in effect until the final decision.
The Defendant, in its counterclaim, argued invalidity of the Suit Patent based on the existence of prior art documents/lack of novelty and non-working of the Suit Patent. The Court found that two (2) of the three (3) prior art documents submitted by Defendant were not valid as these two cited prior documents were subsequent to the priority date of the Suit Patent. As regards the third prior art, a European patent, the Court noted that, while the Suit Patent achieved a similar result it was through a different mechanism, making the Suit Patent distinguishable from the European patent.
The Court also rejected the Defendant's claim of non-working in India, citing Defendant’s prior use of the Plaintiff's product and subsequent import from China. Defendant claimed that they switched suppliers due to defects in Plaintiff's controls but failed to provide evidence to support this claim, hence the argument was dismissed.
The Court thoroughly examined the claims of the patent in question, finding that the defendant's product indeed infringed upon the Plaintiff's patent. Notably, the court referred to a significant decision by the UK Court of Appeal in Gerber Garment Technology Inc. v. Lectra Systems Ltd., to determine damages based on a reasonable royalty when the patent holder couldn’t demonstrate specific losses.
Consequently, the Court passed a decree for Rs. 50 lakhs in damages and Rs. 31.4 lakhs as actual costs in favour of the Plaintiff. It is worth noting that the Court refrained from issuing an injunction, as the Suit Patent had already expired in June 2015. This case underscores the significance of protecting intellectual property rights and sheds light on the calculation of damages in patent infringement cases.