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Recently the Delhi High Court granted a permanent injunction restraining Raaj Computer (“Defendant”) from using Western Digital Technologies Inc.’s (“Plaintiff”) registered trademarks WESTERN DIGITAL, WD, etc.

It was the Plaintiff’s case that it is one of the largest manufacturers of hard-disk drives in the world. It further claimed to have adopted the mark WESTERN DIGITAL in 1971, and that is has registered rights in India since as early as 2004. The Plaintiff further claimed that apart from its retail consumer business, it also manufactures and sells hard-disk drives to various system manufacturers. The Plaintiff submitted that hard-disk drives sold to such system manufacturers are not meant for retail consumers, since they are tailor made for each third-party system manufacturer and may not be compatible with other systems.

As per the Plaintiff, it came to know of the Defendant in early November 2019 when it came across sale of counterfeit and refurbished hard disk-drives bearing its trademarks. The Plaintiff noticed that the hard-disk drives being sold by the Defendant were either from a batch it had manufactured in 2013 solely for third-party system manufacturers or were warranty expired drives which had been tampered with and re-labelled.

In 2019, an ex-parte ad-interim injunction was granted in favour of the Plaintiff and a Local Commissioner was appointed to conduct an investigation of the Defendant's premises. The Local Commissioner had come across a large number of infringing products and stickers bearing the Plaintiff’s trademarks at the Defendant’s premises. Thereafter, in 2022, owing to non-appearance of the Defendant, the suit was proceeded ex-parte.

The Court, looking into the Local Commissioner’s report, held that this is a clear case of trade mark infringement as well as passing off, since the goods of the Plaintiff were being passed off as new and un-used, thereby leading to deception, loss and injury to an unwary consumer as also dilution of the Plaintiff’s trademarks. The Court, importantly, noted that the Defendant cannot seek protection under the doctrine of exhaustion since it has clearly tampered with the Plaintiff’s goods. The suit was, accordingly, decreed is favour of the Plaintiff along with damages to the tune of INR 3 lakhs.

Western Digital Technologies Inc. v. Raaj Computer, CS (COMM) 677/2019, Judgement dt. September 21, 2022, Delhi High Court

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