In latest battle over patents, TVS Motor rides past Bajaj Auto

By: | Published: December 22, 2018 12:41 AM

Bajaj Auto filed pre-grant opposition against two patent applications filed by TVS Motor – one relating to a multi-valve cylinder head assembly for a small capacity spark ignition engine, and the second one for a cylinder head assembly for the internal combustion engine.

In latest battle over paptents, TVS Motor rides past Bajaj Auto

Motorcycle biggies Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor have locked horns, yet again. Bajaj Auto has suffered a setback in the latest patent battle against rival TVS Motor Co, with the Chennai patent office on Thursday granting two patents to the latter, brushing aside Bajaj Auto’s pre-grant opposition.

Bajaj Auto filed pre-grant opposition against two patent applications filed by TVS Motor – one relating to a multi-valve cylinder head assembly for a small capacity spark ignition engine, and the second one for a cylinder head assembly for the internal combustion engine.

TVS Motor claimed that the twin objectives of fuel economy and emission control could be achieved through the ‘innovations’ for which the patent protection had been sought.

Bajaj Auto, opposing TVS Motor’s application, submitted that the subject matter stands anticipated, obvious and does not involve any inventive step. It said the ‘invention’ was publicly known or publicly used in India before the date of that claim. Bajaj further said claims do not define invention or patentable invention and it is merely an arrangement or rearrangement or duplication of known devices, each functioning independently of one another in a known way.

Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor had started their battle in 2008 on the issue of infringement of technology. The battle was dragged to the Supreme Court, after being fought in high courts of Bombay and Madras. The dispute involved TVS Motor’s motorcycle Flame, which used a twin spark plug technology. Bajaj claimed that it had a patent for this technology and that TVS Motor was infringing on this patent. It filed a suit for a permanent injunction to restrain TVS Motor from using this technology in their products. However, the Supreme Court directed that the suit be heard in the Madras High Court itself and allowed TVS Motor to manufacture Flame motorcycles in the interim.

In another instance, the Chennai Patent Office in 2016 had refused a patent to TVS Motor for an invention titled shock absorber with helper spring because of opposition from Bajaj. During the same period, TVS Motor had filed an application in the Madras High Court seeking an order of temporary injunction restraining Bajaj from continuing the advertisement which allegedly disparaged the TVS XL 100 by comparing fuel efficiency on the basis of allegedly false figures.

According to the advertisement issued by Bajaj Auto, the fuel efficiency of TVS Motor’s product is less than 50% of Bajaj Auto’s product. TVS Motor contended that Bajaj Auto was making false claims of being more cost effective, and superior to their products, thereby inducing the public to purchase Bajaj Auto products only. The court had issued an interim injunction in public interest, restraining Bajaj Auto from continuing its advertisements for two weeks.

In the latest case, TVS Motor claimed the invention was to improve fuel efficiency and emission gas quality of an engine of a vehicle by providing a cylinder head assembly. The cylinder head assembly has been configured with a cylinder head having an inclined top, a charging port, inlet passages for connecting to a carburettor and two exhaust ports.

After hearing both the parties, M Ajith, deputy controller of patents and designs at the Chennai Patent Office, said present invention was not obvious to the person skilled in the art and having inventive step in accordance with Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act. He said in view of the documents presented, it was concluded that agents for opponents did not succeed in proving their grounds.

“I have formed an opinion that all the features, in combination with the mentioned inventive features, contribute to improve the fuel economy and the emission control. It consequently leads to a more economical and a more efficient internal combustion engine which makes this invention as claimed an inventive subject matter in accordance with Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act,” Ajith said.

The second patent application filed by TVS Motor titled ‘cylinder head assembly’ had some resemblance of features with the first patent application, and Bajaj Auto objected it pointing out as a fit case of ‘double patenting’. However, the patent office concluded that specifications in the two applications are substantially different. The patent office asked both the parties to consider two applications separately. Bajaj Auto filed common arguments, in both the cases.

TVS Motor submitted that the application discloses an invention to improve fuel efficiency and emission gas quality of an internal combustion engine for a vehicle by providing a cylinder head assembly.

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