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Quia Timet Action: Implications on Jurisdiction and Interim Injunction

The jurisdictional aspect in trademark infringement lawsuits plays a crucial role in determining whether a court has the authority to entertain a case and decide on its merits. Additionally, the grant or denial of an interim injunction can significantly impact the rights of both parties involved.

This article delves into the legal complexities surrounding the invocation of territorial jurisdiction based on an apprehended threat in the context of a trademark infringement suit. It explores the implications of mere averments made in the plaint regarding the apprehended threat of the defendant and how they can affect the court's decisions under Order 7 Rule 10 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and the grant of an interim injunction.

The subject matter of the suit pertains to the alleged infringement of the trademark "NEW LIFE." The plaintiff, based in Bhopal, invokes territorial jurisdiction under Section 134 of the Trademark Act, 1999, citing plaintiff's activities through dealers, distributors, and online platforms within its jurisdiction.

However, during the course of argument, the plaintiff relies solely on Section 20 of the CPC, asserting apprehended threat by the defendants in Delhi as the grounds for invoking jurisdiction. The important aspect of the case was that the Plaintiff did not plead the online activities of Defendant. Hence there was merely averment regarding apprehended threat of Defendant.

Jurisdiction and Apprehended Threat
The court reiterates the principle that a plaintiff may institute a suit, quia timet or otherwise, based on the perceived future infringement of its registered trademarks. Nonetheless, to invoke territorial jurisdiction, the plaintiff must establish tangible or reasonable material justifying the apprehension that the defendant is likely to commit infringement within the court's territorial jurisdiction.

While the plaintiff makes an averment regarding the apprehended threat in paragraph 56 of the plaint, the court recognizes that at this stage, the plaint cannot be rejected for want of territorial jurisdiction. The court emphasizes that the plaintiff can, during trial, substantiate the said averments by presenting evidence to support its claims.

Order 7 Rule 10 CPC and Rejection of Plaint
Order 7 Rule 10 of the CPC deals with the rejection of a plaint. It empowers the court to reject a plaint if it fails to comply with certain prescribed requirements. However, the court's observation indicates that mere averments regarding the apprehended threat of the defendant, as found in paragraph 56 of the plaint, may be sufficient to avoid the rejection of the plaint under this rule. This implies that the court is unwilling to dismiss the case at this early stage based solely on the lack of tangible evidence for the apprehended threat.

Interim Injunction and Apprehended Threat
An interim injunction is a discretionary remedy granted by the court to protect the rights of the plaintiff during the pendency of the main suit. In trademark infringement cases, an interim injunction is a powerful tool to prevent further harm to the plaintiff's interests. However, the court's observation suggests that the mere averment of an apprehended threat in the plaint may not be adequate to warrant the grant of an interim injunction.

The court's reasoning likely stems from the need to strike a balance between protecting the plaintiff's rights and ensuring that interim injunctions are not granted without sufficient cause. In the absence of concrete evidence supporting the apprehended threat, the court may refrain from granting an interim injunction at this stage.

The Concluding Note
The case discussed highlights the importance of establishing a tangible and reasonable apprehended threat before invoking territorial jurisdiction in a trademark infringement suit. While mere averments made in the plaint may be sufficient to avoid the rejection of the plaint under Order 7 Rule 10 CPC, they may not be enough to secure the grant of an interim injunction. This analysis underscores the significance of presenting substantial evidence during trial to substantiate claims of apprehended threat, thereby enabling a more informed and just decision by the court.

The Case Law Discussed
Case Title:New Life Laboratories Pvt.Ltd.Vs. Dr.Ilyas New Life Homeo
Date of Judgement:21.07.2023
Case No. CS Comm 323 of 2023
Neutral Citation:NA
Name of Hon'ble Court:High Court of Delhi
Name of Hon'ble Judge: C Hari Shankar, HJ

Information contained herein is being shared in the public Interest. The same should not be treated as substitute for legal advice as it is subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the facts and law involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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