Intellectual property (IP) is a valuable asset for any company, and patent infringement can have a significant impact on the business. In India, patent infringement lawsuits are on the rise, and some of them have resulted in substantial settlements or verdicts. In this article, we will look at the 10 most famous Indian patent lawsuits.
Novartis vs. Union of India
Novartis vs. Union of India (2013) case involved a dispute over the patentability of Novartis' drug, Glivec, which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia and other cancers. Novartis had applied for a patent for the beta crystalline form of imatinib mesylate, the active ingredient in Glivec. The patent application was initially rejected by the Indian Patent Office on the grounds that the invention did not meet the criteria for novelty and inventiveness under Indian patent law. Novartis challenged the decision in court, arguing that the Indian patent law was too restrictive and that the beta crystalline form of imatinib mesylate was a new and inventive form of the drug. However, the Indian Supreme Court rejected Novartis' arguments and upheld the decision of the Patent Office. The Supreme Court's decision was based on the interpretation of Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act, which prohibits the grant of patents for inventions that are mere "new forms" of existing substances unless they demonstrate a significantly enhanced therapeutic efficacy.
Ericsson vs. Micromax
In 2014, Ericsson filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Micromax for infringing on its Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) related to 2G and 3G technologies. Micromax, however, argued that Ericsson was charging unreasonable licensing fees and that its patents were not essential to the standards, and therefore, Ericsson was not entitled to claim royalties.The Delhi High Court ordered Micromax to pay Ericsson an interim payment of 1.25% of the selling price of its devices, which was later reduced to 0.8%. However, Micromax challenged the decision in the Supreme Court of India, which ruled that the royalty rates set by the Delhi High Court were excessive and directed Ericsson and Micromax to negotiate a reasonable royalty rate for the use of Ericsson's SEPs. The two companies eventually reached a settlement, with Micromax agreeing to pay Ericsson a royalty rate of 1.3% for its SEPs.
Monsanto vs. Nuziveedu Seeds
Monsanto had licensed its patented technology for BT cotton seed to Nuziveedu Seeds for a fee in 2004. In 2015, the Indian government imposed price controls on cotton seeds, which led to a reduction in royalties paid to Monsanto by the Indian seed companies. In response, Monsanto terminated its license agreement with Nuziveedu Seeds in 2016 and filed a lawsuit in 2017, alleging that Nuziveedu Seeds had continued to use Monsanto's technology without a valid license. The Delhi High Court ruled in favor of Monsanto, finding that Nuziveedu Seeds had breached the terms of the license agreement and was using Monsanto's patented technology without authorization. The court ordered Nuziveedu Seeds to stop using Monsanto's technology and to pay damages. However, the case is not yet fully resolved. Nuziveedu Seeds has appealed the decision to India's Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case in the coming months.
Roche vs. Cipla
Roche filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Cipla for making and selling a generic version of its cancer drug Tarceva. Roche lost the above suit as the court felt that stopping Cipla’s manufacture would be against public interest and so the balance of convenience was in Cipla’s favor. On appeal, the Division Bench upheld the decision but focused more on the failure of Roche to establish a prima facie case of infringement. The parties then returned to the single judge to the trial on main relief; the judge delivered judgment and Roche could not sufficiently prove that Cipla’s manufacture of Erlocip infringed its patent. The case was then taken to the Division Bench where the case went in favor of Roche. Cipla was made liable to render accounts concerning manufacture and sale of Erlocip and decreed costs in favor of Roche of Rs. 5,00,000. The Court did not, however, grant a permanent injunction on manufactured by Cipla.
Ericsson vs. Intex
Ericsson and Intex had a dispute in India in 2016 regarding patent infringement. Ericsson claimed that Intex had violated its patents related to technology used in 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless communication standards. Ericsson filed a complaint with the Delhi High Court and requested an injunction to stop Intex from selling mobile phones that used the infringing technology. In response, Intex argued that the patents in question were standard essential patents (SEPs), which meant that they were essential to the functioning of the wireless communication standards and had to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Delhi High Court eventually ruled in favor of Ericsson and ordered Intex to stop selling the infringing mobile phones. The court also ordered Intex to pay royalties to Ericsson for the use of its patented technology.
Ericsson vs. Xiaomi
In 2014, Ericsson filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Xiaomi for infringing on its SEPs related to 3G and 4G technologies. The Delhi High Court was satisfied that Ericsson had made out a prima facie case for grant of ad interim injunction in its favour, and directed Xiaomi to stop sale of all its handsets/devices in India. Xiaomi in its appeal against the injunction alleged that Ericsson, while obtaining the ex parte injunction order, did not inform the court that Xiaomi also made, imported and sold handsets having Qualcomm chipsets. It contended that it did not infringe Ericsson’s patents, as Qualcomm had obtained a licence from the Swedish company for this patented technology. The dispute was resolved when Xiaomi agreed to pay Ericsson royalties for the use of its technology. The two companies signed a patent licensing agreement that allowed Xiaomi to continue selling its devices in India.
Merck vs. Glenmark
Merck filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Glenmark for infringing on its diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin). Initially, Merck was refused an interim injunction against Glenmark but this was subsequently reversed by the Delhi High Court granting the injunction. This order was then challenged in the Supreme Court by Glenmark where it counterclaimed seeking revocation for Merck's patent on the grounds of obviousness, lacking industrial applicability and improper disclosure. Glenmark also claimed that it did not amount to infringement because their product contained a different chemical entity having different physical and chemical properties. The Supreme Court found Glenmark's claims to be unconvincing and thus restrained Glenmark with a decree of permanent injunction from making, using, selling, distributing, advertising, exporting, offering for sale or dealing in Sitagliptin in any form, alone or in combination with any other drug.
Novartis vs. Cipla
In 2010, Novartis and Cipla were involved in a legal dispute in India over the patent protection of a cancer drug called Glivec. Novartis had been granted a patent for the drug in several countries, but not in India. Novartis had applied for a patent in India, but it was rejected on the grounds that the drug was not a new invention. Novartis argued that the Indian patent law was too strict and did not comply with international standards. Novartis also claimed that its investment in research and development of the drug should be protected by a patent. Cipla, on the other hand, argued that it could produce a generic version of the drug at a much lower cost and that the drug should be made available to Indian patients at an affordable price. Ultimately, the Indian Supreme Court ruled against Novartis in 2013, upholding India's strict patent laws and ruling that Glivec did not qualify for patent protection in India. This decision was seen as a victory for Cipla and for access to affordable medicine in India.
Bajaj Auto vs. TVS Motor
The case began in 2007 when Bajaj Auto, one of India's largest two-wheeler manufacturers, filed a lawsuit against TVS Motor, alleging that the latter had infringed on Bajaj's patented technology for the DTS-i (Digital Twin Spark Ignition) engine. The DTS-i technology, which was first introduced by Bajaj in 2003, was designed to improve the fuel efficiency and performance of two-stroke and four-stroke engines by using two spark plugs instead of one. Bajaj claimed that TVS had copied this technology in its own 'Flame' engine, which it launched in 2007. In 2009, the Madras High Court ruled in favor of Bajaj, stating that TVS had indeed infringed on Bajaj's patent for the DTS-i technology. The court ordered TVS to stop production and sales of its Flame motorcycle, and to pay damages to Bajaj. TVS appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of India, which eventually upheld the lower court's ruling in 2010. The court held that TVS had infringed on Bajaj's patent, and ordered the company to pay Bajaj a royalty for every 'Flame' motorcycle it had sold, as well as to stop using the DTS-i technology in its engines.
Samsung vs. Ericsson
In 2014, Samsung filed a lawsuit against Ericsson in India, claiming that Ericsson was demanding excessive royalties for its patents related to wireless telecommunications technology. Samsung argued that Ericsson's royalty demands violated fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms. Ericsson, on the other hand, argued that Samsung was not willing to pay a fair price for using its patented technology. Ericsson also claimed that Samsung was infringing on its patents by using its technology without obtaining a license. The case was heard by the Delhi High Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of Ericsson. The court held that Ericsson's royalty demands were reasonable and that Samsung had not acted in good faith in negotiating a license for Ericsson's patents. The court ordered Samsung to pay Ericsson approximately $11 million in royalties and interest, and also issued an injunction prohibiting Samsung from importing or selling any products that used Ericsson's technology without obtaining a license first.
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