6 June 2019TrademarksPravin Anand

Indian jurisprudence: IP litigation and the public interest

Just a few years ago, a large corporation with strong IP rights would be looked at with a certain degree of scepticism in India. Very often, defendants and the relevant court would both question the allegedly high prices of products or services protected by IP rights. It was a commonly held belief that if one were to permit the sale of cheaper products and services, then it would serve the interests of the public.

Similarly, an award for damages in favour of a plaintiff was perceived as being opposed to public interest, regardless of the blatant infringement carried out by the defendant.

In a nutshell, anything which could make its way to the pocket of the plaintiff was seen as being opposed to the interests of the public.

IP jurisprudence in India has increasingly steered towards public interest. The beauty lies in the fact that this has happened while giving primacy to the rights and interests of IP holders.

This change has been attained as a result of flexibility on the part of the Indian judiciary, including passing one-of-a-kind orders.

Flexible remedies

First and foremost, there developed a new jurisprudence of awarding flexible remedies in which courts started granting unusual orders to promote the wider public interest and make defendants pay for their wrongdoings.

The Ralph Lauren order

In a suit regarding infringement of the trademark ‘Polo’ in relation to shirts, one defendant was ordered to perform community service at a designated old people’s home, while the other defendant was ordered to perform service at an orphanage. In order to ensure compliance with the order, the defendants were directed to provide a status report to the court once they had performed this service.

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