Ad-interim injunction for infringing patent: B. Braun Melsungen Ag & Ors. Vs. Rishi Baid & Ors.

On a reading of this case analysis, you will learn that a domestic medical devices maker won a suit against German makers as the former's make was different and because the applicants were unable to establish their ownership over the disputed product.
TITLE B. Braun Melsungen Ag & Ors. Vs. Rishi Baid & Ors.
CITATION 2009 40 PTC 193 (Del)
COURT High Court of Delhi
JUDGES/CORAM Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed
DATE OF JUDGEMENT 15.04.2009

Introduction

In this case, the Delhi High Court pro-actively dealt with a patent litigation relating to Safety IV Catheters. The case comprised of  a plea for ad interim injunction filed by the Germany based B. Braun Melsungen AG along with its Indian counterpart vide B. Braun Melsungen AG to restrain a local player Poly Medicure from infringing their patent.

Facts

The facts of the case are as follows: B. Braun Melsungen AG, engaged in the global healthcare market, along with its co-parties moved to seek an ad interim injunction to restrain Rishi Baid and others from infringing their rights as under Section 48 of the Patents Act, 1970 with respect to Safety I.V. catheters/cannulae or any other device or apparatus that infringed their Patent No. 210062. Braun sought relief in respect to the trademark VASOFIX Safety and others which use confidential information, know-how, trade secrets, data, technical input, drawings, materials and/or any other resource derived by Rishi Baid and others from Braun.

Braun claimed that the Safety I.V. catheters was developed by several entities, to achieve this result with a protective needle guard for use with a hypodermic needle. They also claimed to enjoy patent protection for the said invention in several countries apart from India as well.

Braun alleged Poly Medicure Limited was manufacturing a basic I.V. catheter bearing the brand name “ACCUCATH” for and on behalf of Braun under an exclusive agreement. Under the said agreement, Poly Medicure Limited was authorized to manufacture I.V. catheters as a contract manufacturer, in accordance with the applicable specifications and regulatory conditions prescribed by Braun India. The agreement had an initial validity period of two years which was to continue for a further period of one year unless terminated earlier.

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Braun alleged that after Poly Medicure Limited acquired all relevant technical knowledge for manufacture of “ACCUCATH”, it approached Braun with regard to the problems faced while manufacturing the same.  Braun solved these problems by going in depth and provided effective solutions. It reposed complete trust in Poly Medicure and supplied them with sensitive data, processes, trade secrets and confidential information. Braun clarified that at no point were they authorized or appointed to be contract manufacturers for the VASOFIX Safety I.V. Catheter, but had entered into a confidentiality /secrecy agreement.

Braun stated that at an international trade show at Germany in November 2006, an official from Poly Medicure showed a product stated to be a prototype of a safety I.V. catheter. Braun’s official was not given an opportunity to examine the prototype. He was concerned that the same may violate Braun’s intellectual property. He requested for a sample of the prototype but none was supplied. In the show organized in November, 2007, upon visiting the booth, Braun’s official was given samples of the safety I.V. cannulae. The sample was allegedly dissected by Braun, analyzed and photographed from various angles. In Braun’s opinion, it infringed their Indian Patent.

According to Braun, Poly Medicure’s sample was labeled Safety I.V. Cannulae and branded as ‘Poly Safety’ obtained in November, 2007 contained all the elements of claim 28 of Patent No. 210062. Braun alleged that in view of their pre-existing relationship, Poly Medicure had gained knowledge and now had come out with their own safety I.V. catheter which carried all the elements as set out in claim 28 of the plaintiffs’ Patent No. 210062.

Issues

The main issues in the case was: Whether or not there has been infringement of patent right of Braun.

Summary Of Court Decision And Judgement

The Court held that the plaintiffs were not entitled to an ad interim injunction. It was clear that the registration of the patent per se did not entitle the plaintiffs to an injunction.

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The Court also noted that the plaintiffs did not come clean before the Court because there was no reference in the plaint of the fact that the plaintiffs were already aware that the defendants have started manufacturing and selling safety I.V catheters/ cannulae. The audit reports presented, prima facie, specifically pointed in this direction. The circumstance of safety I.V catheters/ cannulae being excepted from the list of products to which the non-compete clause of the agreement dated 17.01.2007 would apply, had also not been mentioned in the plaint.

The plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case and the balance of convenience did not lie in their favor.  Consequently, the present prayer for an ad interim injunction was rejected. However, the plaintiffs could be protected by relying on the case of Bilcare Limited wherein the Court directed the defendants to keep accounts of the manufacture and sales of the safety I.V. cannulae in question during the pendency of the suit and to make the same available to the Court as and when directed by it. It was ordered accordingly while dismissing the case.

Analysis

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application. In principle, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner’s consent.

The main feature of a patent is its novelty. A patent is granted to a product or process which is one of its kinds and has not been invented before. The discovery of any material or process cannot be a patent. In this case, there was no prima facie evidence that the patent held by the plaintiffs was bonafide. In fact, the defendants claimed the contrary with proof.

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The Court’s order was correct. Within the small trial, many questions and doubts surfaced with regards to the validity of the patent. Various submissions were also made. Thus, if the Court would have granted injunction without first clearing these doubts/questions it would have sabotaged the procedure of delivering justice in this case.

Conclusion

Interim injunctions are court orders that prevent a party from doing a particular act, which will in some way damage/injure the other party or their property. When the ownership of the property itself is in question/doubt as in this case, it was right for the Court to not grant injunction without clearing the air around the questions.

–END OF CASE COMMENT–