The TVS Motor Company Limited vs. Bajaj Auto Limited case is a landmark judgment in the field of patent law in India. The case, decided by the Supreme Court in 2009, involved allegations of patent infringement and raised important considerations regarding inventive steps in patents. This article explores the key aspects of the case, along with the necessity and eligibility criteria to ascertain inventive steps in patents.
The case revolved around two separate suits filed by Bajaj Auto Limited and TVS Motor Company. Bajaj Auto filed a suit seeking a permanent injunction under Section 108 of the Patents Act, 1970, claiming that TVS Motor had infringed upon their patented technology used in two and three-wheelers, specifically targeting the proposed 125-CC FLAME motorcycle. Concurrently, TVS Motor filed a suit against Bajaj Auto, alleging groundless threats of infringement and seeking a permanent injunction to protect their product, TVS Flame, from interference.
One of the critical aspects of this case was the determination of patent infringement and the evaluation of inventive steps. In order to establish infringement, it must be proven that the defendant has used the exact technological combination as patented by the plaintiff. However, if there are modifications or improvements made by the defendant that result in a different combination to achieve the same result, it may not be deemed as infringement.
Inventive steps play a crucial role in patent law as they determine the novelty and uniqueness of an invention. To be eligible for patent protection, an invention must involve an inventive step, meaning it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the relevant field. This requirement ensures that patents are granted only for inventions that exhibit a sufficient level of innovation and contribute significantly to the field.
To ascertain whether an invention involves an inventive step, certain criteria are considered. These criteria help determine the level of innovation and the departure from prior knowledge or existing technology. The following factors are typically evaluated:
In the TVS vs. Bajaj case, the court observed that the defendants had incorporated improvements in their product, such as the use of three valves instead of two, which distinguished it from the patented technology of the plaintiff. The court held that these modifications constituted an inventive step, resulting in a non-infringing product.
The TVS vs. Bajaj case established important precedents in patent law, particularly concerning inventive steps. It emphasized the necessity of a non-obvious and technically advanced invention to meet the eligibility criteria for patent protection. The ruling highlighted the importance of innovation, uniqueness, and significant departures from prior art in granting patent rights.
The TVS Motor Company Limited vs. Bajaj Auto Limited case stands as a landmark patent case in India, addressing the issues of patent infringement and inventive steps. The judgment reiterates the significance of inventive steps in determining the validity and uniqueness of a patent. By evaluating the eligibility criteria, including non-obviousness, technical advancement, unpredictability, and commercial success, the courts ensure that patents are granted only for genuinely innovative inventions. This case serves as a guiding precedent for future patent disputes and underscores the importance of promoting innovation and protecting intellectual property rights in the country.
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