The reasoning that deceptive similarity constituted as an infringement under Section 22 of The Designs Act was upheld by the High Court of Madras through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MS. JUSTICE JYOTI SINGH in the case of Havells India Ltd. v. Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt. Ltd & Anr (Interlocutory Appeal Case No. 6258 of 2022)
FACTS OF THE CASE: Brief facts of the case are as follows; The Plaintiff, Havells, sought interim injunction among other things restraining the defendants Panasonic Life Solutions and their agents etc., from manufacturing, marketing, selling (including on online platforms) the ‘VENICE PRIME’ series of ceiling fans or any other fan(s) series, which are identical or deceptively similar to the plaintiff’s ENTICER series including ENTICER ART variants. Havells is a market leader and a registered design owner of its various ceiling fans, including its flagship ‘Enticer’ range with its unique, distinct and protected designs.
Havells claimed that the Unique Selling Point (USP) of this new series was the floral motif patterns and the unique colour scheme on the trims. It was submitted that Havells had copyrighted the same and had been extremely vigilant in taking all legal precautions against misuse by third parties and had taken appropriate legal actions from time to time. It was argued that since Panasonic’s product was an identical copy, it could be passed off as those of Havells, diluting its uniqueness and tarnishing the company’s goodwill and reputation in trade circles and amongst consumers.
The defendant, Panasonic, refuted the claims and contended that it had been in the electrical business for over five decades and that the ‘VENICE PRIME’ series was inspired by its own earlier brand, ‘CAPTOR’, launched in 2020 and not from Havells’ design. Counsel for Panasonic tried to bring out the dissimilarities between the two products by comparing the intersecting golden lines on the marble pattern of the Havells fans with the motifs and colours on their own fans. It was alleged that Havells was guilty of suppression of material facts. It was, therefore, urged that the plaintiff was not entitled to the equitable relief of interim injunction.
JUDGEMENT: After reviewing the submissions of both sides, the judge Justice Jyoti Singh opined that Havells had successfully made out a prima facie case for the grant of an interim injunction as it found that the claim that the two ceiling fan designs were similar to be evident. The Court observed that the impugned product had many identical features, including using marble on the blades of the fan, its cut shape, the size and the metallic border, and its placement and layout the Court observed. The Court issued the judgment granting an interim injunction to Havells against Panasonic on the grounds of unauthorized imitation, identical reproduction and piracy of their registered design, which was constituted as an infringement under Section 22 of The Designs Act 2000.
Judgement reviewed by – Abhinav Paul Mathew