LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd v. Bharat Bhogilal Patel & Others


The defendant No.1 claimed to have obtained a patent for process titled as “A Process of manufacturing engraved design articles on metals or non-metals”. The defendants No.2 and 3 are Commissioners of Customs (Import), Officers of Customs. The plaintiff filed a suit seeking declaration and consequential reliefs of injunction on the premise that the complaint preferred by the defendant no. 1 against the plaintiff before the defendant no. 2 on the basis of which, the defendant no. 2 is acting upon and interdicting the consignments which are being imported by the plaintiff without preferring an infringement action in accordance with Patents Act 1970 amounts to groundless threats and ought to be prevented by the court.


In this case certain articles of TRIPS agreement were used as an aid to interpretation of The Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007. As there were two views emerging creating ambiguity and the customs continued to argue that the circular in question[1] does not clarify any such position that the customs will act only as implementing authority. Thus, this court took the aid of international covenant which formed the basis of the rules of 2007 in order to find out the true import of the regime under the TRIPS agreement and used it as an aid to construction of such rules. So even though the argument can be raised that there is a freedom to enact and thus the rules are though based on the agreement but is a departure due to operation of Article 1. The Court in this case clarified that the Article 1 does not permit any such freedom to create conflict and ait is only to the extent permissible under article 1, the freedom to enact exists.[2]

In para 80 of the judgment, it was observed that-

“If the terms of the provisions of municipal law are not clear and ambiguous in nature which are reasonably capable of more than one meaning and said provision of law is based upon implementation of international covenant or treaty then the treaty itself becomes relevant and the interpretation of treaty can be used as an aid to construction of the said relevant provision.”

Thus, the Court concluded that the said regime under the TRIPS agreement is the sole guide to interpret such border measures which are framed by the government in order to implement such regime existing under the international covenant.[3] Since, there were no guidance provided either in circular or in rules as a matter of mechanism as to how the Custom Officials will determine the infringement, the Court found that the only option to fill the gaps in the law was to rely upon the TRIPS agreement which the Government itself claimed to be the one for the implementation of which, the said rules were framed.[4]

The actions of the custom authority/ defendant No. 2 to indulge into such action giving its own interpretation to the rules and circulars contrary to the court’s interpretation once the orders of this court were in force was held to be not merely wrongful, illegal, actuated by malice but also an utter disrespect to the orders of the ruling court.

[1] dated 29th October, 2007

[2] Para 90

[3] Para 91

[4] Para 92

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