The Delhi High Court, on December 16, 2015 has rendered a judgment in
Eicher Motors Limited v. Saurabh Katar & Ors., (CS(OS) 2998/2015), allowing an amendment in the plaint enhancing the suit value from INR 2.1 Million To 10 Million.
Brief Facts/ Background:
- The Plaintiff is stated to be the owner of certain registered and unregistered trademarks such as “Royal Enfield:, “Bullet”, “Bullet 500”, “Bullet 350”, “Enfield”, “Made Like a Gun”, “ Thunderbird”, “Royal Enfield Continental GT”, and it came to the notice of the Plaintiff that Defendant Nos. 1 and 2 are engaged in the unauthorized display, offer for sale and sale of certain counterfeit products including fuel tanks, seats, keychains , wallets etc. carrying the Plaintiff’s trademarks/ logo that are identical or deceptively similar to the trademark on the websitewww.ebay.in hosted by the Defendant No. 3.
- The Plaintiff had filed a suit for permanent and mandatory injunction for restraining the infringement of its trade mark/s and copyright, passing off by the Defendants, rendition of accounts and provision of details of sellers against the Defendants.
- The Plaintiff at the time of filing of the plaint, had valued the damages payable to it as INR 2.1 Million (Approx. USD 31,455*). However, during the pendency of the suit and in course of interaction with the Defendant No. 3, the Plaintiff claims to have come across several other listings on the website of the Defendant No.3 whereby the counterfeit products of the Plaintiff were being sold. Thus, the Plaintiff filed an application to increase the estimate of damages to INR 10 Million (Approx. USD 149,800*)
Contentions raised by the Plaintiff:
- The Plaintiff is seeking to amend the plaint in order to revise the quantum of damages claimed by it in the suit. The amendment sought does not alter the substance or nature of the suit and the same is also not time barred.
The Plaintiff cited the following judgements whereby a similar issue was dealt with:
- In Jiva Institute of Vedic Science & Culture & Ors vs. The Indian Hotels Company Ltd. & Anr, CS(OS) 1960/2006, the Plaintiffs at the time of filing of the suit, sought relief of INR 2.5 Million (Approx. USD 37,447*). Later the Plaintiff s submitted that they have re-assessed the damages and filed an application to raise the claim from INR 2.5 Million (Approx. USD 37,447*) to INR 10 Million (Approx. USD 149,800*)
IIn Vifor (International) Limited v. The High Court of Delhi (W.P.C.(C) 11035/2015) and Asian Patent Association (Indian Group) v. Registrar General, Delhi High Court,
(W.P.(C) 11043/2015) whereby it was held that “..The cases arising out of the Patents Act, 1870; Trademarks Act, 1999; Designs Act, 2000; Copyright Act, 2000; and The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, shall not be transferred and in case application seeking amendment in the pecuniary value is filed, they shall be considered by the respective Single Judges in accordance with law.” The Plaintiff submitted that it is the admitted position that while passing the order by the Division Bench in the abovementioned case, liberty was granted to the parties for amendment of pecuniary value.
- In Balar Marketing Pvt. Ltd. v. Lakha Ram Sharma, (2002(97) DLT 424) the Delhi High Court rejected the amendment application stating it to be arbitrary and being not on the basis of cogent material. However, the order was set aside by the Supreme Court of India and the claim was raised from INR 100,000 (Approx. USD 1,500*) to INR 1 Million (Approx. USD 14,980*).
- IIn Mount Mary Enterprises v. Jivratna Medi Treat Pvt. Ltd. (2015) 4 SCC 182, the suit property was initially valued at INR 1.35 Million (Approx. USD 20,222*). The Plaintiff, thereafter, realized that the market value of the property in question was around INR 12 Million (Approx. USD 179,750*) and therefore, filed an application for amending the plaint accordingly. The application for amendment was rejected by the trial court and thereafter, a writ petition was filed by the Plaintiff challenging the order. The said petition was dismissed and then, the Plaintiff approached the Supreme Court where the Apex Court of India set aside the impugned order and allowed the amendment application stating that “the amendment application made by the Plaintiff should have been granted, especially in view of the fact that it was admitted by the Plaintiff that the suit property was initially undervalued in the plaint and by virtue of the amendment application, the Plaintiff wanted to correct the error and wanted to place correct market value of the suit property in the plaint.”
The Delhi High Court, in the light of the contentions of the Plaintiff and aforementioned case laws, observed that the requisite conditions for amending the plaint by the Plaintiff were fulfilled in the present case, hence there is no impediment in allowing the application for amendment. The prayer in the application was allowed. The amended plaint along with the application was taken on record.
It is no secret that amending a plaint, especially the value of a suit for the purposes of pecuniary jurisdiction, is not so easy and courts usually are reluctant to allow the same. However, from the above discussion, we can observe a changing trend as even in light of the enhanced jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court (i.e. from INR 2 Million to INR 10 Million), the Delhi High Court is allowing the amendment of the suit value, resulting in the Plaintiffs to succeed in keeping their pending Intellectual Property Rights suits from being transferred to the district courts, provided such amendment fulfills the requisite conditions on the merits of the case.
*@ 1 USD = 66.76 INR