B. Braun Melsungen AG & Ors. v. 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.
CITATION2009 40 PTC 193 (Del)
COURTHigh Court of Delhi
JUDGES/CORAMJustice Badar Durrez Ahmed
DATE OF JUDGEMENT15.04.2009

Introduction

The Delhi High Court pro-actively dealt this patent litigation relating to Safety IV Catheters; a plea for an 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 had been 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 to be manufacturing a basic I.V. catheter bearing the brand name “ACCUCATH” for and on behalf of Braun under an exclusive agreement, whereby Poly Medicure Limited was authorized to manufacture I.V. catheters as a contract manufacturer, according to 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 Poly Medicure Limited having all relevant technical knowledge for manufacture of “ACCUCATH” stated that they had approached Braun with problems faced while manufacturing the same and that Braun solved these problems by going in depth and providing effective solutions. Braun having reposed complete trust in Poly Medicure had supplied them with sensitive data, processes, trade secrets and confidential information. Braun clarified that at no point where 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 and that he was not given an opportunity to examine the prototype but was concerned that the same may violate Braun’s intellectual property. He requested a sample of the prototype but the same was not supplied. In the show organized 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, and, in their opinion, 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 issue in the case was: Whether or not there has been infringement of patent right of Braun.

Summary of court decision and judgement

In the view of the Court the plaintiffs were not entitled to an ad interim injunction as prayed for by them. It was clear that the registration of the patent per se did not entitle the plaintiffs to an injunction.

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Another important factor which went against the plaintiff was that they 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 had not been able to establish a prima facie case neither was the balance of convenience in favour of grant of an ad interim injunction in their favour. Consequently, the present prayer for an ad interim injunction made by the plaintiffs was rejected. The plaintiffs, however, could be protected as was done in the case of Bilcare Limited  by directing 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. A discovery of any material or process is not patent. In this case this feature turned the table for the plaintiffs as there was no prima facie evidence that the patent held by the plaintiffs was bonafide as contrary had been claimed by the defendants with a proof.

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But the order rejecting the grant of ad-interim injunction was correct as within the small trial, many questions and doubts surfaced with regards to the validity of patent and the submissions made before the Court, 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 used to 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 in this case it was right for the Court to not grant an injunction without clearing the air around the questions.