Ericsson, a Swedish MNC, got an ex parte interim order from the Delhi High Court against Xiaomi in a case involving infringement of patents relating to AMR technology, 2G and 3G technologies. It is interesting to note that Ericsson had in the past sued Micromax, Gionee, and Intex and did not succeed against Intex but the other two companies. While this being the case, there is also a complaint pending before the competition commission of india (CCI) for alleged unfair trade practices in patents by Ericsson.
The injunction now prohibits Xiaomi and its e-tailer Flipkart, which has also been implicated in this case, from selling, advertising, manufacturing or importing the devices that infringe these patents. Also, directions were issued to the Customs Authorities to prevent imports under the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Rules, 2007.
While a patentee has all the rights to stop others from using it, the other important aspect of granting patent is for public good so others can use them by way of licensing. One cannot stop from wondering whether it is necessary to grant ex parte interim injunction against a company on the grounds of “irreparable loss” which, in fact, can be remedied by a monetary relief by way of fixing royalty. Xiaomi has been selling mobiles for quite some time and granting an injunction as this seems a bit of an overreaction. This is clearly against the TRIPS mandate, which provides for border control mechanisms for trademark and copyright infringements, not necessarily patents.
From a legality perspective, District Judge at the lower level can decide patent suits and a HC can only intervene only if there is a counterclaim to the suit. It is a question to be decided whether the custom authorities are competent to decide issues pertaining to infringement or validity or jurisdiction to adjudicate this matter.
This injunction order clearly seems to be a bit of an overreaction by the court in the context of IP protection, while alternative remedies and reliefs are available to the plaintiff.