Maharaja Appliances Directed to Pay Damages for Infringing Patent of Strix Ltd.

Through judgment dated October 20, 2023, the Delhi High Court directed Maharaja Appliances Limited (the defendant) to pay damages amounting to Rs. 50 lakh along with actual costs, Rs.31.4 lakh to Strix Ltd. (the plaintiff), for the infringement of its patent with respect to its “Liquid Heating Vessel”.[1]

The Isle of Man-based company was granted a patent in India on November 11, 2005, which was valid for 20 years. The defendant purchased the patented temperature controls from the plaintiff and, later on, began importing Kettles installed with these controls from a company based in China instead. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a suit for permanent injunction against the defendant in the year 2008, asserting that one of the models of Kettles (Model no. EK-172) sold by the defendant used the sensors of the suit patent. Thereafter, an interim injunction was granted in favour of the plaintiff in September 2009 to be operative till the matter was finally decided upon.

In its counterclaim, the defendant submitted that the suit patent was not valid as per the provisions of the Patents Act, 1970 and was liable to be revoked. In this regard, three prior art documents were presented. After analysing this, the Court determined that the “plea of invalidity has not been established”. Further, the defendant claimed that it was compelled to find another supplier after it was found that the controls provided by the plaintiff were defective but failed to present any evidence in support of this.

The Court perused the essential features of the patented invention and images thereof and observed, “it is clear that the Defendant’s infringing product contains all the features claimed in the Plaintiff’s patented controls”. Before proceeding further, reference was made to the Delhi High Court’s decision in Sotefin SA v. Indraprastha Cancer Society and Research Centre & Ors.[CS(COMM) 327/2021] wherein it was held that it was “the pith and marrow of the invention claimed that is required to be looked into, and we do not have to get lost into the detailed specifications and do a meticulous verbal analysis which the parties have engaged into the Court”. With this, the Court ruled that the defendant’s products were made by using the patented temperature controls, which infringes the suit patent.

In averring that there was no infringement, the defendant relied upon Section 107A(b) of the Patents Act, 1970, and contended that the Kettles were imported from a Chinese supplier who “was duly authorised under the law”. But this contention was also dismissed as the details of the Chinese supplier, let alone those of the patent held by it, were not furnished by the defendant.

With respect to the plea for permanent injunction and delivery of impugned products, the Court noted that the same could not be granted as the term of the suit patent lapsed in June 2015.

In its judgment, the Court cited case laws along with Rule 20 of the Delhi Court Intellectual Property Division Rules, 2022, which provides the factors to be considered for calculating damages (such as duration of the infringement, lost profits suffered by the injured party, profits earned by the infringing party, etc.). After determining the profits estimated to be made by the defendant and taking note of the costs incurred by the plaintiff in pursuing the case for 15 years, the Court awarded Rs. 50 lakh as compensation and Rs.31.4 lakh as actual costs.

[1] Strix Ltd v. Maharaja Appliances Limited [CS(COMM) 403/2018 and CC 54/2009]