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Escorts Ltd. vs Sudhir Kumar And Anr. - (High Court of Delhi) (04 Jul 2023)

If there is use of the design or supplies or advertising, within the jurisdiction of the Court, territorial jurisdiction cannot be disputed


Intellectual Property Rights

The present suit by the Plaintiff-Escorts Ltd. is for a decree of permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from manufacturing, using or in any manner dealing with the Plaintiff's product namely 'AAR-H COUPLERS' for Passenger Coach and 'AAR-H COUPLERS' for Locomotive or carrying out any other action likely to infringe Plaintiff's registered Designs under the Designs Act, 2000.The issue at present stage is whether the plaint is liable to be returned due to lack of territorial jurisdiction.

The averment in the Plaint is to the effect that the Defendants supply their products to the Indian Railways, that have their headquarters in Delhi. In addition, the Defendants are alleged to be approaching vendors in Delhi which allegation is denied. Further the Plaint avers that there is likelihood that the Defendants would effect supplies to Delhi. The position that the Defendants are filing their Bids for supplies to the Railways is also established by the bid documents that have been submitted by the Defendant and are also placed on record. However, the question for consideration before the Court is whether the act of submitting bids to the Indian Railways and making supplies to the Railways would itself constitute carrying on business in Delhi or not, and therefore confer on this Court the jurisdiction to hear this matter.

The present case would be governed by Section 20 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), insofar as territorial jurisdiction is concerned, as the special provisions akin to Section 134 of the Trade Marks Act 1999 or Section 62 of the Copyright Act, 1957 are not present in the Designs Act, 2000. The jurisdiction of the Court has to be determined on the basis of principles governing civil actions which determine jurisdiction on the basis of where the cause of action has arisen or where the Defendants are carrying on business.

The legal position in respect of ‘cause of action' and ‘carrying on business' is well settled. If there is use of the design or supplies or advertising, within the jurisdiction of the Court, territorial jurisdiction cannot be disputed. The concept of infringement is not fixed in time. In a suit where infringement is complained of, basing the jurisdiction, only as per the situation existing at the time of filing of the Plaint would also not be the correct approach.

In the facts of the present case, the manner in which the bidding process of the Railways operates, the bids are submitted, the EMDs are submitted and other formalities are undertaken, would be a question of fact which may require evidence to be led by the parties. This is a classic case where, in the opinion of the court, the question of jurisdiction would become a mix question of fact and law, and at this stage, the Court is unable to categorically hold that this Court lacks territorial jurisdiction owing to the pleadings and the documents. The application is disposed of leaving the issue of territorial jurisdiction to be adjudicated at the final stage post time.


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