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Absogain Retail Solutions v/s Puma SE

The case involves a dispute between Absogain Retail Solutions (appellant-defendant) and Puma SE (respondent-plaintiff) over the alleged infringement of Puma's registered trademark and logo. The District Court, Tis Hazari, Delhi had previously passed a decree for permanent injunction against the appellant, restraining them from manufacturing, trading, or selling goods, including shoes and accessories, bearing Puma's trademark or any deceptively similar mark.

The appellant was also directed to deliver the infringing goods seized by the Local Commissioner to the respondent and pay damages of three lakhs rupees. The appellant appeals against this decision, challenging the territorial jurisdiction, damages awarded, and validity of the power of attorney.

Citation: MANU/DE/3233/2023; 2023/DHC/003369
Court: High Court Of Delhi

Procedural History:
The District Court, Tis Hazari, Delhi passed the Order on January 24, 2023, granting a permanent injunction and awarding damages in favor of Puma. The present appeal, RFA (COMM) 39/2023, was filed against this order.

Issues Presented:
  • Did the Trial Court have territorial jurisdiction to hear and decide the present suit?
  • Did the Trial Court correctly award damages to the respondent?
  • Is the power of attorney executed by the respondent valid?
Rules of Law:
  • Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) - Order XIV Rule 4
  • Indian Evidence Act, 1872 - Section 85
Analysis and Reasoning:
The court analyzed the appellant's arguments challenging territorial jurisdiction, damages awarded, and validity of the power of attorney. Regarding territorial jurisdiction, the court found that the Trial Court had the jurisdiction to hear the suit based on evidence provided by the respondent, including internet downloads, invoices, and the sale of infringing products on interactive websites accessible from Delhi.

The court noted that the appellant, a repeat offender, had copied the respondent's registered design and logo, indicating knowledge of the registration. The appellant's argument of not being aware of the registration was rejected. The court also emphasized the appellant's history of copying famous registered designs, further supporting the respondent's claim.

On the issue of damages, the court referred to previous judgments and held that the present case fell under category (iii) of the established principles for quantifying damages. Considering the appellant's repeat infringement and the seizure of 380 pairs of shoes, the court upheld the damages awarded by the Trial Court.

Regarding the validity of the power of attorney, the court referred to the cross-examination of the respondent's witness, who confirmed the existence of a yearly contract with RNA Law Firm but lacked knowledge of specific contracts with the plaintiff. The court found no bar on a non-advocate accepting a power of attorney and stated that the absence of Mr. Rakesh Chhabra as a pleader/advocate did not invalidate the power of attorney.

Holding and Decision:
The appeal was dismissed, upholding the Trial Court's decision. The court affirmed the Trial Court's jurisdiction, the award of damages, and the validity of the power of attorney.

Implications and Significance:
The court's decision reaffirms the importance of territorial jurisdiction in intellectual property disputes. It also emphasizes the need to deter repeat offenders by imposing substantial damages. The case sets a precedent for considering the purposeful availment test in determining territorial jurisdiction and provides guidance on the quantification of damages in trademark infringement cases.

Overall, this case serves as an important precedent for determining territorial jurisdiction in trademark infringement cases and provides guidance on the quantification of damages. It underscores the significance of protecting intellectual property rights and discouraging repeat offenders through appropriate legal measures.

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