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The Delhi High Court recently dismissed a motion filed by the Commissioner of Customs (“Applicant”) seeking its impleadment as a proper party in a trademark infringement suit filed by Western Digital Technologies & Anr. (“Plaintiffs”) against Syt Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (“Defendant”). In 2018, by virtue of its powers under the customs law, the Applicant had seized various goods bearing the Plaintiff’s marks imported by the Defendant. The Applicant’s motion for impleadment was based on the premise that the Plaintiffs’ rights were being infringed by the import of these goods. Both parties to the suit opposed the Applicant’s motion.

Under the law, custom officers are authorized to destroy the confiscated goods after obtaining a ‘no objection certificate' from the IP right holder, if no legal proceedings are pending in relation to such goods. The Court observed that no relief against the Applicant had been sought by the Plaintiff in its plaint. Further, while the Applicant had the jurisdiction to determine if the seized goods were infringing the Plaintiffs’ rights if no legal proceedings were pending in relation to such determination, the present suit was a proceeding where the question of infringement was to be determined. Therefore, the Applicant could not go into the question of infringement till the final adjudication of the present suit. Nor was the presence of the Applicant required to enable the court to completely, effectively, and properly adjudicate upon the issue in the suit. In view of the above, the Court held that the Applicant is neither a necessary nor a proper party for the adjudication of the suit and, accordingly, dismissed the Applicant’s motion.

Western Digital Technologies, Inc & Anr. v. Syt Solutions Pvt. Ltd. [CS(COMM) 835/2018], order dt. December 13, 2022

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