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Strix Ltd v Maharaja Appliances Ltd

Citation: I.A. No. 7441 of 2008 in C.S. (OS) No. 1206 of 2008

Court: Delhi High Court

Facts: Plaintiff Strix Ltd.(“Strix), a British-based company involved in the manufacturing of home appliances since the 1920s, filed a suit against Maharaja Appliances Ltd. (“Maharaja”) alleging infringement of their registered design and patent for a liquid heating vessel. This vessel was the first functioning model of the modern-day electric kettle, including the automatic heat sensors. The patent over this invention was active and valid up till 2015 since the application was made in 1995. Maharaja was one of the many distributors that were importing kettles from Strix. On discovering that a producer in China manufactures the same product in superior quality, Maharaja began importing electric kettles from the Chinese producer instead of Strix.

Issue: Whether Strix’s patent is valid?

Law: Sections 3 (d), 3 (f), Section 48 of the Patents Act, 1970

Analysis: At the outset, Maharaja did not deny that the products sold by them infringed the patent awarded to Strix, instead, they argued that the very patent was invalid. It was claimed that Strix’s invention lacked an “inventive step”. To prove the same, Maharaja relied on a similar patent registered in the European Union prior to Strix’s patent application. Maharaja submitted an excerpt of the European patent that was retrieved from the internet.

The Delhi High Court held that, even though the two patents broadly provided the same result, the scientific principle and functioning of the inventions were nowhere similar. Further, the evidence submitted by Maharaja was considered to be unsatisfactory by the Court. Since Maharaja was generating revenue in crores, the Court emphasized that they could not circumvent patents in such a blatant manner.

The Court granted the application in favour of Strix as Maharaja could not invalidate the patent in consideration.

Conclusion: This precedent set a standard upon those Defendants who wished to challenge the validity of a registered patent, even if in an Interlocutory Application. The Court in this case law placed a greater onus on a Defendant if a patent had to be invalidated.

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