On 21 September 2023, the Plaintiff- Kubota Corporation, a Japanese company, filed a suit for patent infringement, seeking enforcement of its patents before the Delhi High Court. The plaintiff filed the suit seeking an injunction against all three Defendants from manufacturing, selling, exporting, importing, and distributing their harvesting machines under the name ‘Ruilong Plus ++’ (hereinafter, ‘impugned product’).
The plaintiff submitted that the impugned product is built from components which infringe the suit Patents nos. 249257, 294814, 312782, 354002, and 371938 of the plaintiff. The suit patents relate to different components/parts of the Combined Harvester. All the five suit patents are stated to be embodied in the plaintiff's product 'Combined Harvester, which is manufactured and sold by the Plaintiff through its Indian subsidiary– Kubota Agricultural Machinery India Pvt. Ltd. under the brand name ‘HARVES KING’. Further, the plaintiff submitted that the market share in India with respect to its products is almost 35% to 40% in the financial years 2020 to 2022. The plaintiff claimed to have expended around Rs. 94 lakhs in advertising expenses for the financial year 2022.
Further, the plaintiff submitted that the Defendants' combined harvester under the name 'Ruilong Plus ++', is manufactured in China, is imported by defendant No.1. By infringing upon the plaintiff's suit patents, the Defendants are increasing their market share in the last three years. The plaintiff stated that sometime in May 2023, one of the plaintiff's investigators approached Defendant No. 1 for the purchase of the impugned product to be delivered in Delhi, and the same was confirmed by Defendant No. 1.
Thus, the cause of action has arisen within the jurisdiction of this Court, as impugned products are freely available for sale/purchase in Delhi. The plaintiff also submitted the investigator's affidavit dated 5 September 2023, deposing that the impugned products are being sold at a lesser price as compared to the plaintiff's patented products, thereby causing loss to the plaintiff. Further, the plaintiff argued that comparing the impugned products, which were purchased by the plaintiff, with the plaintiff's product would reveal that the Defendants infringe upon all the suit patents.
The plaintiff submitted comparison charts of various parts of the impugned products, demonstrating patent claims mapped with the impugned products of the Defendants. The plaintiff submitted that the plaintiff, being a market leader in agricultural machinery, is entitled to an injunction against the Defendants, owing to the novelty and inventive nature of the patented components of the Plaintiff's Combined Harvester.
Defendant No. 1 argued that until 2020, impugned products were being imported by defendant No.1 from Defendant No.2, and approximately 50 units of the impugned products were imported. However, thereafter, imports are being carried out through some other company based in China. Defendant No.3 submitted that the Plaintiff’s Combined Harvester, which is the subject matter of the present suit, has been imported in India since 2016 and relied upon a bill of lading dated 27 March 2016.
The High Court appointed two experts to compare the impugned product components with the granted claims of the suit patents. The two experts were permitted to take photographs and videographs and were asked to submit their respective reports independently within two weeks after the execution of the inspection/commission. The Court directed that the two Experts, along with at least two technical experts on behalf of the plaintiff and one technical expert on behalf of each Defendant, shall accompany the appointed Experts for the inspection.
The Court directed the Defendants to mention the total quantity of the impugned products that have been imported to date, the details of the importers from where the imports are being imported, and relevant documents . The Court also asked to inform quantum and sales figures of the impugned products imported and sold by the Defendants along with the documentary evidence thereof in reply. Defendant Nos. 2 & 3 were directed by the Court to inform the complete sales figures to date of the impugned products in India along with the documentary evidence thereof.
Further, the Court has asked Defendant Nos. 2 & 3 to continue maintaining the accounts of the imports of the impugned products and file the same along with their replies, and thereafter, every quarter before the Court. The Court asked the plaintiff to file clear copies of the claims chart mapped within one week.The Court allowed the application seeking exemption instituting pre-litigation mediation in view of the orders passed in Chandra Kishore Chaurasia v. R A Perfumery Works Private Ltd, 2022/DHC/004454. Further, the suit has been listed for hearing on 24 January 2024.