Delhi High Court awards exemplary damages to Philips for IP infringement

In a precedent setting and landmark decision, the Delhi High Court on April 22, 2019 in the matter of Koninlijke Philips N.V. v. Amazestore[1], awarded damages to the tune of approx. Rs. 3.15 crores (approx. US$ 450,000) against the defendants for willful infringement and piracy of designs, copyrights and trade dress.

The plaintiffs had argued that the defendants in this matter viz. M/s. Badri Electro Supply and Trading Company (owner of the trademark ‘NOVA’) (‘Bestco’), Nova Manufacturing Industries Limited (manufacturer of the infringing products) (‘Nova’) and Omni Exim Private Limited (importer of the infringing products) (‘Omni’) had imitated the design of its products under the Advance Beard Trimmer Series 3000 as well as copied the accompanying product literature, packaging, colour scheme and trade dress. The Court observed that: (i) the impugned products of the defendants did indeed closely resemble the aesthetics of the plaintiff’s products; (ii) the defendants with mala fide intent had deliberately imitated the shape and configuration of the plaintiffs’ products, which constituted piracy of the registered designs of the plaintiffs; (iii) the defendants had copied the product packaging, literature and trade dress of the products. In light of the above, the Court proceeded to grant the relief of permanent injunction restraining the defendants from infringing upon the registered design and copyright of the plaintiff as well as passing off and unfair competition.

Referring to the principles laid down in Rookes v. Barnard and Cassell & Co. Limited v. Broome[2], the Court held that the nature and quantum of the damages to be awarded has a direct nexus with the degree of mala fide conduct and that granting of exemplary damages was validated in a case where a defendant deliberately infringes upon the rights of a person, knowing that profit he will gain from the wrongful conduct will probably exceed the damages payable to the victim.

The Court went on to lay down a set of guidelines that should be followed for the purpose of granting damages in intellectual property infringement cases, which is directly linked to the degree of mala fide conduct.

[1] Koninlijke Philips N.V. v. Amazestore, CS (COMM) 737/2016, I. A. 7469/2016, CS (COMM) 1170/2016, I.A. 2685/2017 and 16768/2018, decided on April 22, 2019.
[2] Rookes v. Barnard and Cassell & Co. Limited v. Broome, [1964] 1 All ER 367.

Published In:Inter Alia - Quarterly Edition - July 2019 [ English
Date: July 31, 2019