The plaintiff i.e., Havells India Limited filed a suit seeking an interim injunction to restrain the defendant i.e., Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt. Ltd from manufacturing, marketing and selling (both offline and online) the ‘VENICE PRIME’ series of ceiling fans or any other such series of fans identical or deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff’s ‘ENTICER’ (bearing Design No.280666) series including the ‘ENTICER ART’ (bearing Design No.328605) models. The plaintiff herein is a leading company manufacturing fans since 1983 and it is the registered design owner of the ‘ENTICER’ range of fans which have unique, distinctive and protected designs.
The plaintiff claimed that the Unique Selling Point (USP) of the ‘ENTICER’ series was floral patterns and the distinctive color of the trims. It was further stated that Havells had gained ownership of the said design and had been extremely careful in taking all the required legal precautions against misuse by third parties and accordingly, it had taken appropriate legal actions time and again. The plaintiff contended that the product being manufactured by the defendant was deceptively similar/identical to the product of the plaintiff and thus there is a high possibility of passing off. It was further stated that such passing off will dilute the distinctiveness of the plaintiff’s product thereby tarnishing the reputation and goodwill in the eyes of the consumers and the business circle.
The defendant denied the claims of the plaintiff and stated that it has been manufacturing and marketing electrical goods for over 50 years. It further stated that their ‘VENICE PRIME’ series of fans were manufactured by taking inspiration from their own previous brand ‘CAPTOR’ which was launched in the year 2020 and not by copying the product and design of the plaintiff. The defendant then went on and pointed out the differences between their products and that of the plaintiff’s wherein it compared the product of the plaintiff having marble patterns along with yellow lines with the colors and motifs of the defendant’s fans. Additionally, the defendant also contended that the plaintiff was liable for suppressing material facts. Thus, the defendant stated that the plaintiff must be denied the grant of interim injunction.
The present case revolved around the piracy of a registered design i.e., Section 22 of the Designs Act, 2000 which states that for the purpose of sale, import, publishing or exposure, no person shall be permitted to apply or cause to be applied on any article belonging to any class the registered design or such a design that is deceptively similar to or identical to the registered design.
Judgement of the Court
The Honble High Court of Delhi (hereinafter ‘High Court’), after hearing both the parties held that the defendant has unlawfully imitated and reproduced a product that is deceptively similar/identical to that of the plaintiff’s products. It was observed that the impugned product was evidently similar/identical to the product of the plaintiff having similar features such as the size, shape, border, and layout including marble blades. The High Court further stated that the defendant pirated the registered design of the plaintiff leading to infringement as per Section 22 of the Designs Act, 2000. Thus, the High Court also held that the plaintiff shall be granted an interim relief as it had made out a prima facie case for the grant of such relief.
Submitted by Ms. Sai Gayatri