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Section 12-A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and the Nature of Urgent Relief Sought

Section 12-A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, mandates pre-institution mediation for commercial disputes, barring exceptions for urgent interim relief. This provision aims to expedite resolution and reduce litigation burden by encouraging mediation before parties resort to court action. The analysis of the provision and its application in a recent case highlights the balance courts must strike between mandatory procedural requirements and the urgent need for interim relief.

Background of the Case:
In the present case, the defendant sought rejection of the plaintiff's suit under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), citing non-compliance with Section 12-A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. The plaintiff filed the suit seeking permanent and mandatory injunctions against the defendant for trademark infringement and passing off. Additionally, the plaintiff sought interim reliefs both in the plaint and a separate application.

Defendant�s Argument:
The defendant argued that the plaintiff's failure to initiate pre-institution mediation as required under Section 12-A invalidated the suit. The defendant contended that the plaintiff had no grounds for claiming urgent interim relief, given the eight-year delay from the cause of action in September 2015 to the filing of the suit in August 2023. According to the defendant, this delay demonstrated a lack of urgency, thus mandating adherence to pre-institution mediation.

Plaintiff�s Argument:
The plaintiff argued that the nature of their claims and the need to protect intellectual property rights justified urgent interim relief, exempting them from the pre-institution mediation requirement. They detailed the timeline of actions taken against the defendant since 2015, including cease and desist notices and a police complaint, underscoring the persistent infringement of their trademark.

Court�s Analysis:
The court's analysis centered on whether the plaintiff's suit genuinely contemplated urgent interim relief, as required to bypass Section 12-A's pre-institution mediation mandate. Under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC, the court's examination was limited to the plaint and accompanying documents to ascertain if the suit was barred by law.

Evaluation of the Plaintiff's Actions:
The court noted that the plaintiff had issued cease and desist notices in September and October 2015, to which the defendant responded. The plaintiff did not immediately pursue civil action but filed a police complaint in May 2018. Despite this delay, the court found the plaintiff had documented the infringement timeline and actions taken, negating any accusations of deceptive or false claims.

In intellectual property cases, courts must consider not only the proprietary rights of the plaintiff but also the interests of consumers who might be misled by infringing trademarks. The plaintiff's detailed documentation and the ongoing opposition proceedings against the defendant's trademark applications demonstrated a consistent effort to protect their rights. The court emphasized that protecting consumers from being duped by similar marks justified interim relief, supporting the plaintiff's urgency claim.

The court concluded that the plaintiff had sufficiently demonstrated a need for urgent interim relief, thereby validating the bypass of Section 12-A's mediation requirement. The plaint and supporting documents established enough grounds to show that the plaintiff contemplated urgent relief. Consequently, the court rejected the defendant's application under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC to dismiss the suit for non-compliance with Section 12-A.

Implications and Analysis:
This case underscores the importance of balancing procedural mandates with the substantive rights of parties seeking urgent relief. Section 12-A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, aims to streamline dispute resolution through mediation, yet it provides flexibility for cases requiring immediate judicial intervention. Courts must carefully scrutinize the plaintiff's claims of urgency, ensuring they are not a pretext to bypass mandatory procedures.

The court's decision reflects a nuanced approach to applying Section 12-A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, in cases involving intellectual property rights. By prioritizing the urgency of interim relief and the potential harm to consumers, the court upheld the plaintiff's right to seek immediate judicial intervention without prior mediation.

Case Citation: Chemco Plastic Industries Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Chemco Plast:10.06.2024: [2024:BHC-OS:8445] Comm IP Suit 80 of 2024:Bombay High Court: Manish Pitale, H.J.

The information shared here is intended to serve the public interest by offering insights and perspectives. However, readers are advised to exercise their own discretion when interpreting and applying this information. The content herein is subjective and may contain errors in perception, interpretation, and presentation.

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

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