Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant any interim relief to Atomberg Technologies Pvt Ltd, a pioneer in manufacturing of smart and energy-efficient home appliances, in its suit alleging design infringement and passing off against Luker Electric Technologies Pvt Ltd. Atomberg contended that Luker copied the designs of its ceiling fans. The plea further averred that the imitated products were passed them off as Atomberg's fans.
Justice Manish Pitale observed that “something more” than mere similarity would have to be demonstrated for successfully claiming interim reliefs. The plaintiff (Atomberg) would have to show that prima facie, the defendant not only copied the design, but also was making a false representation.
Additional evidence required by Court
“This Court finds that the plaintiff (Atomberg) has not been able to make out that ‘something more’, as required under law, to successfully claim interim reliefs against the defendants, even on the aspect of passing off,” said Justice Pitale while rejecting interim relief.
Refusing to restrain Luker Electric from manufacturing the ceiling fans in question, the HC noted that Atomberg failed to make out a prima facie case in its favour or show that it would suffer irreparable loss if interim relief is not granted.
According to Atomberg’s plea, it had started production of ceiling fans in the year 2015 and was also selling the same online from 2016. Further in 2018, Atomberg entered retail market all over India. It had registered design of a ceiling fan, ‘Atomberg Renesa Ceiling Fan’ on September 8, 2018.
Claims by Atomberg and rebuttal by Luker
It claimed that Luker fraudulently obtained registration for two ceiling fans: Size Zero Fan 1 and 2 on March 21, 2022. It alleged that Luker committed the act of infringement as well as the tort of passing off. To prove its success, Atomberg submitted a certificate issued by a chartered accountant showing that for the year 2021-2022, the approximate sales was to the tune of ₹103.64 crore.
Opposing the suit, Luker Electric claimed that Atomberg suppressed the material fact that the design under challenge was already published in public domain and was called the “Gorilla Ceiling Fans”. It also claimed that Atomberg could not have registered the design as there was nothing novel or unique in it.
Claiming that it is not a fly-by-night operator and is a well-established company in the ceiling fans market, Luker too submitted a certificate issued by the Chartered Accountant showing that its sales turnover for the financial year 2021-2022 was ₹299.42 crores.
The HC noted that the table of comparison of the rival products submitted by Luker in its affidavit shows certain differences pertaining to the canopy, rod, etc. “ The defendant has also shown how the boxes and packaging of the rival products is different,” it added.