Bajaj vs TVS: Sai Deepak Cited by Judge


In what must certainly be the greatest achievement for this blog ever since its inception in 2005, Sai Deepak’s incisive analysis in a previous post was cited extensively by the Madras High Court in the latest Bajaj vs TVS round.

In pertinent part, an appellate bench of the Madras High Court reversed the finding of the lower court and held that Bajaj had not established a “prima facie” case of infringement in respect of its patented twin spark technology. Consequently, it vacated the interim injunction granted to Bajaj by the lower court.

Indeed, Sai must be one of the very few law students to have evern been cited by a court. Please join me in congratulating him!

We’ll carry a review of this judgment soon, but here is the cited portion:

“66. Apart from the above analysis, when we consider the claim of valid patent by the Respondent and the alleged infringement by the Appellant it will be worthwhile to understand the teachings of the already patented product of the Respondent and the claim of the Appellant in respect of the alleged infringed product viz., 125 cc ‘FLAME’, we had an opportunity of making a reference to an article written by a student of Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur, Mr.J.Sai Deepak titled “SPARKS FLY AS TITANS CROSS PLUGS”. The said article throws much light on the working of the product of the patentee viz., the Respondent and that of the Appellant. We deem it appropriate to extract a few points expressed in the said article which reads as under:

“…..Through its written description, Bajaj has explained in sufficient detail the disadvantage of using a single spark plug, as opposed to using twin spark plugs located preferably diametrically to each other (US patent 4177783 too contains a similar arrangement). This is because of better-controlled ignition timing in the latter and lesser time taken for the flame to travel during combustion. It has specifically listed the merits of use of twin spark plugs in a lean mixture (a mixture where the proportion of fuel in air is lesser when compared to rich mixture).

The novelty according to Bajaj, also lies in the use of a sleeve to protect the spark plug which is susceptible to exposure to lubricating oil. Such being the case, the emphasis and the scope of protection would be limited to use of twin spark plugs in a single cylinder with two valves, one plug protected by a sleeve. It is interesting to note that of the four patents cited in the International Search Report in the PCT application, 3 relate to inventions only on sleeve, and only one speaks of use of twin spark plugs.

CC-VTi, on the other hand, predominantly is about even combustion of fuel by altering the air-fuel mixture received by the 2 intake ports or valves. Usually, a cylinder has one intake and one exhaust valve. Earlier, the charge (air-fuel mixture) was either subjected to swirl or a tumble depending on the load conditions and speed. The stirred or circumferential motion of charge in the cylinder is called swirl, whereas a motion directed towards the axis of the cylinder is called tumble.

The former is used for a lean mixture and the latter is used for richer mixtures at high speeds. Several patents on the use of these phenomena exist. TVS s technology combines both these phenomena with 2 intake ports, providing swirl and tumble simultaneously, making the design compatible for both lean and rich mixtures. The degree of swirl would be greater for a lean mixture and the degree of tumble for rich mixture. This design ensures even combustion of fuel in all corners of the cylinder and is further marked by the use of twin spark plugs, which as explained earlier, provides fuller combustion.

This shows that the points of emphases in the designs of both these technologies differ considerably, notwithstanding the use of twin spark plugs in both instances…..” (Emphasis added)

67. The distinction made out by the Author of the said article is quite appealing and does not conflict with the facts pleaded by the parties before us. By taking a clue from the said article, when the patented product of the Respondent is considered, the granted patent is an improved internal combustion engine working on four stroke principle. Accepting the stand of the Respondent that with the placement of the twin spark plugs in the cylinder head on diametrically opposite sides and the ignition points set in such a manner resulting in improved internal combustion in a lean burn mixture, the claim of the Appellant’s in relation to its product viz., 125 cc ‘FLAME’ talks of even combustion of fuel by altering the air fuel mixture received by the two intake valves with the combination of swirl as well as tumble operated air fuel mixture.

In other words, while the Respondent’s patented product of an improved internal combustion engine is by virtue of the functioning of two spark plugs due to its ideal location and the point of ignition in a lean burn operation, the product of the Appellant though also with the provision of twin spark plugs, the internal combustion was due to the receipt of air fuel mixture by the two intake valves (one providing swirl action and another tumble action) with the third valve being exhaust valve also providing effective internal combustion with the combination of lean burn and rich burn mixture.

68. Having regard to the nature of operation of the engine of the patentee viz., the Respondent as well as the Appellant in such a descriptive manner viz., one by virtue of twin spark plugs and the other by virtue of receipt of air fuel mixture through two different intake valves both by swirl and tumble operations, as rightly observed by the author of the said article, the point of emphasis in the description of the product of the Appellant as well as the Respondent differ considerably notwithstanding the use of twin spark plug in both the technologies. Viewed in that respect also we are convinced that the alleged infringement of the Respondent’s patent cannot be prima facie accepted.”

And later:

“71. Prima facie when we examine, as rightly set out in the article of Mr.J.Sai Deepak, student of I.I.T. Kharagpur, the Respondent’s patented product de hors the fact that it has the already existing concept of twin plug operation in an internal combustion engine, at the threshold we are not inclined even prima facie to state that the validity of the patent is doubtful.

The operation of the invention as claimed by the Respondent appears to be plug centric one in as much as having regard to the descriptive statement in the final complete specification it will have to be held that the claim as set out therein if accepted would spark the ignition with twin plugs in a four stroke engine of a single cylinder with two valves specification produce improved internal combustion in a lean burn mixture and the Respondent may well be justified in its attempt to enforce its rights based on the said patent. Nevertheless, on that score alone, we find it difficult to countenance the claim of the Respondent that the Appellant’s product specification have infringed its patented right.

Here again, we find considerable knowledgeable expression made by the author of the article Mr.J.Sai Deepak, wherein, he has differentiated the product of the Appellant as valve centric one in as much as the two intake valves as claimed by the Appellant provides for combined air fuel mixture of swirl and tumble action, with a separate exhaust valve in an internal combustion engine of single cylinder with four stroke with the aid of twin plug provision. The descriptive note of the author in stating that the Appellant’s product is predominantly of even combustion of fuel by altering the air fuel mixture received by two intake ports or valves and that therefore the said technology differs considerably with that of the Respondent is quite convincing. “

Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.

27 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    At the outset i congratulate that one of your guest post has been referred by a court in its judgment. Strictly speaking high court should not have entertained the personal views of appearing on blog spots like yours. expecting your comment. Will join later.

    Reply
  2. AvatarAnonymous

    Heartiest Congratulations Sai,

    This is a life time achievement for any individual. You have made all RGSOIPL faculty,students and alumni proud.

    Best Regards,
    Suddha Sattwa Basu

    Reply
  3. AvatarManpreet Singh

    Yes, Mr J.Sai Deepak, great work and real honour to be quoted, with approval by Madras HC DB.

    We have created a link at, IndianIPR.com for reading details of Judgement TVS vs Bajaj.

    Reply
  4. AvatarManpreet Singh

    Yes, Mr. J.Sai Deepak, great work and a great honour to be quoted with approval, by Madras HC DB.

    We have created a link at IndianIPR.com, for reading details of TVS vs Bajaja judgement.

    Reply
  5. Avatarmnbvcxzaq1

    The fact that he has been ‘relied’ (not merely ‘cited’) upon by the Justice, itself speaks of the quality/scholarship of the author. Congratulations. But looking from a wider perspective, this doesn’t seem to be a very healthy judicial trend. Despite accepting the scholarship of this article, I have serious reservations about using (or relying upon) such articles. It might set an unhealthy precedence for improper reliances.
    Congrats to the author thereof, but I am a bit circumspect regarding its judicial use/reliance.

    Reply
  6. AvatarSharmila Joe

    U r good at whatever u decide to do. Keep up the good work. I am really proud of U and U’r achievements.

    Regards
    Sharmila Joe (Sai’s Proud Lecturer)

    Reply
  7. Avatarbabs

    hello Sai sir,

    it was great to read the citation from your article in the judgment…… the judge not only uses the content of the article to make his judgment but also has loads of praises for the author…..! makes us all feel proud !

    Abhishek Tewary
    IIT-Kgp

    Reply
  8. AvatarJ. Sai Deepak

    I thank everyone for their wishes and warm words of encouragement.All these only add to one’s sense of responsibility and acute awareness that every word and statement needs to be justified considering the seriousness with which the information/opinion posted on the blog is being recieved. Having said that, I also humbly request all our enlightened readers to remain open as always to tentative/testy yet reasonable and reasoned propositions given the fact that this branch of law in the Indian context is still evolving which requires us to take nothing for granted and revisit established propositions time and again. So if one errs in the process of putting forth a relatively obscure proposition,keeping with the spirit of this forum,it would be immensely appreciated if one is given the benefit of doubt and heard fully and patiently.

    As for the genuine,valid and well-intentioned queries raised by some of our readers regarding the wisdom of the Madras HC in relying on a blog post, one understands where they are coming from because this was the first question that crossed my mind. However, i would think that the blog post performed a more corollarial/paraphernalial role rather than being the central piece; i say this because the Court, after having perused the materials and arguments submitted by both the parties, must have felt the need for literature which breaks down the issues involved in a lucid unbiased manner without watering down the intricacies. In short, the Court was probably looking for something which clearly summarises the techno-legalities of the case and that,in my opinion, is precisely how the Court percieved the blog post. This is reflected in its observation that “the article does not conflict with the facts of the case”. So only after going through the material submitted did the Court refer to the post to put things in perspective in an uncluttered fashion.To that extent, i think the reference is justified.As for the other factor- credentials of the author/forum- my honest answer would be that instead of taking a blanket stand that “blogs are reliable” or “blogs arent reliable”, every piece of document must be weighed and judged on its own merits with a pinch of salt.If the twin fundamentals evidentiary principles of relevance and admissibility are satisfied and the content of the document serves the purpose for which it is adduced, which is to assist the Court in taking an informed stand, one doesnt see why such document must not be referred to. The counter to this would be, how is one to assume that such blog posts satisfy the criterion of admissibility? I seek the opinion of our readers on this issue.

    Best Regards,
    J.Sai Deepak.

    Reply
  9. AvatarRajeev

    Hello Sai Sir,

    Congratulation!!!

    You r being spoken of in the lecture every often at RGSOIPL.

    An ode to Inspiration…

    We think of doing you proud in future.

    On behalf of RGSOIPL 2010-13 Batch
    Rajeev Gupta

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.