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Innovative Showdown: The Reverting Battle Of Kilta Basket Between Dhanpat Seth Of Himachal Pradesh v/s Nilkamal Plastic Crates Company

Brief Information about the Case;
This case I am going to discuss with you, is related to the patent issues among the parties.

Where the Plaintiff was Mr. Dhanpat Seth from Himachal Pradesh and the Defendant was a Company Registered under Companies Act, 2013 named M/S Nil Kamal Plastic Crates Limited.

The Plaintiff (Mr. Dhanpat Seth) filed a case in the Court for restraining the defendant from using the Registered Patent .

So let's discuss about the subject matter in the case and from which state does this case belong to;

Plaintiff - Mr. Dhanpat Seth (H.P.)
The case belongs to the State of Himachal Pradesh, and the case was filed by a Family for their registered patent under Patent Act, 1970,

(Mr. Dhanpat Seth)
So, In this case Mr .Dhanpat of District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, filed a case on the basis that defendant is using the patent without his permission and Exporting the registered patent under his name to all over the country.

KILTA (The Subject Matter)
In the mid-hills of Himachal one of the most common sights is a KILTA or conical basket carried on back.

Kiltas are used to carry so many things, from grass to grains, from cow-dung to fuel wood, water pitchers to apples.

So KILTA was the registered patent in this case and also the subject matter of the case.

Kiltas are indeed multi-purpose containers.
Kilta baskets are a part of the daily lives of the people of Himachal Pradesh. These are used since ancient times. These baskets are being approximately three feet in height and can be made in a day or two.

So now, let's move to this case of patents and understands the happenings:- Let's start;

Respondent - M/S Nil Kamal Plastic Crates Ltd (MH)
A Brief Introduction of the Respondent
Nil Kamal is a leading manufacturer and exporter of industrial crates, material handling crates, multipurpose crates and plastic crates in Mumbai, (Maharashtra).

Multi-purpose industrial plastic crates made from food grade HDPE material and also comes with built-in handles.

Nil Kamal Limited is a plastic products manufacturer based in Mumbai, India. It is the world's largest manufacturer of moulded furniture and Asia's largest processor of plastic moulded products.

Let's Begin With The Case Now......................
So firstly let's discuss about brief introduction about the case that what was the reason and issues, Remedies etc. For which this case was filed in the court of law.

Introduction To The Case
So three years ago, in 2018 the Himachal Pradesh High Court, Shimla gave a very landmark Judgement with respect to patent revocation The High court revoked a patent granted to Plaintiff for agricultural use on the basis of lack of some Conditions for a patent.

So now let's discuss about the main facts of the facts:

What Were The Facts Of The Case:
Let's know:
In Himachal Pradesh, the Use of Kilta is continuing since a long time for bringing agricultural things like Apples, Grass, Woods etc. In the districts of Shimla, Kullu, Kinnaur, Lahoul - Spiti etc. So the plaintiff appealed that the invention of Kilta is done by him only.

So now let's know what happened next to this:
  • So firstly, The plaintiff named Mr. Dhanpat Seth filed a suit seeking grant of permanent prohibitory injunction restraining the defendant from infringing Patent No. 195917 granted in favor of the plaintiffs on 11-7-2005. The patent has been granted in respect of a device used for manufacture of manually hauling or simply we can say for bringing the agricultural produce.
  • According to the plaintiffs, the invention was visualized by them in 1999. They developed it over a period of time and applied for grant of patent on 24-5-2000. The patent was granted in their favor on 11-7-2005.
  • The invention of the plaintiffs as set out by them in the plaint is as follows: A device for bringing agriculture produce comprising a container of synthetic polymeric.
  • Next to this, The Material defined by a hollow frusta-conical body open at the top and closed at the base and tapering from the operative open top to the base with perforated walls.
  • The respondent-defendant, hereinafter referred to as the defendant, in fact, sold this device to the Department of Horticulture, Govt. of H.P. and other private parties.
  • The plaintiffs consequently filed a suit praying for a decree for grant of permanent prohibitory injunction in their favor restraining the defendant from infringing the Patent No. 195917 and also for a decree of mandatory injunction virtually in the same terms.
  • The plaintiffs along with the suit filed an application for grant of interim relief seeking temporary injunction restraining the defendant from manufacturing or selling its version of the Kilta or committing any acts which may infringe in the patent granted to the plaintiffs.
  • The applicant was contested by the defendant and where the learned single judge came to the conclusion that the device for which patent is obtained by the plaintiffs is basically an imitation of the traditionally Kilta, hence by an order dismissed the application for grant of interim relief.
  • The plaintiff appealed against the order of the learned single judge.

What Were The Legal Issues Before The Court?
Let's know:
So when we talk about the legal issues before the court, we can summarize the issue by points that;
  • Whether there exists a legal and a valid Patent of a 'Kilta' with the plaintiffs?
    So in first legal issue- it was a challenge before the court to decide whether the patent which is granted to Plaintiff Mr. Dhanpat Seth is a valid patent or it's mistakenly granted by the law.
  • Whether the plaintiff is entitled to the grant of a decree for a permanent prohibitory injunction restraining the defendant from infringing Patent No.195917 in any manner whatsoever?

    Secondly we can say, the court has to decide whether plaintiff is really entitled to serve justice in his favour by providing him prohibitory Injunction and with that to stop the defendant by granting such order to selling the Kilta in other places.
  • Whether the plaintiff is entitled to damages on account of profits and mesne profits as prayed for?
    & thirdly, whether the plaintiff should get relief for the loss suffered by him through selling the Kilta all over the country by the defendant.
  • Whether the goods supplied by the defendant by infringement of the Patent are liable to seizure, and destruction?
    Lastly, Further the court has to decide whether the Infringement of Patent done by the defendant and whatever he has Supplied or sold, should be destructed and seized.
Now let's discuss about the submissions and arguments by both the parties;

What Were The Submissions Of Plaintiff?
So Mr. Dhanpat in this case (Plaintiff) alleged and contended that the defendant was aware of the plaintiff conceptualization and development since 1999 and despite the same, the defendants obtained information about the plaintiff's patent, manufactured it and sold it without any consent from the plaintiffs.

The plaintiff also contended that the device was one with a unique design and was invented in consultation with various farmers as well as doctors.

The device was an innovation of the traditionally used Kilta (bamboo Novelty isbaskets) which were used to carry agriculture produce wood and other items.

Kilta was really painful to carry because of its specifications and hence the inventor came up with this device and design after a survey of various designs in Himachal Pradesh.

The inventor filed a patent application for the said device on 24th May 2002 and began the commercial production of the said invented device. Various costs were incurred by the plaintiffs until the commencement of commercial production began on 15th June 2002. The patent was granted on 19th September 2002.

The plaintiffs supplied various corporations through its distributors. Further, the plaintiffs alleged that they were under the mistaken impression that the suppliers of the invented device were required that they empanel with the National Horticulture Board, Govt. of India, Gurgaon before they could start taking orders.

Next to this, An application was submitted by them before the NHB board for the inclusion of their suppliers in the panel of parties. It was alleged by the plaintiffs that the board did not take any action on the said application deliberately and filed a suit in the Himachal Pradesh High Court which was disposed.

With that, The plaintiff's also alleged that they later came to know that the fact was deliberately concealed by the department before this court that the board had already placed supply orders with the defendant.

Lastly, The plaintiff thus alleged that the orders violated the norms and procedures which were required to be adopted and that they supplied goods worth 72 lakhs INR was a massive fraud.

Further, it was also admitted by the defendants that the supplied goods worth 40 Lakhs INR to various other parties. The plaintiffs thus allege that the defendants have infringed their patent after copying it and making cosmetic changes to the same.

The plaintiffs urged that they faced huge loss and damage due to the acts of the defendants and claimed for damages worth Rs. 1 Lakh INR for every 1000 long baskets copied and sold by the defendants.

What Were The Submissions Of Defendant?
So after the plaintiff's arguments and Submissions, the defendant moved by this way:-

Let's know:
So A counterclaim for revocation of the patent granted to the plaintiffs was filed by the defendants.

The defendants contended that the patent granted to the plaintiffs was wrongfully granted and is liable to be revoked under Sec. 64 of the Patents Act as it lacked novelty or inventiveness.

The defendants argued that the device manufactured by the plaintiffs were neither new manufacture nor art and that the pith and substance of the traditionally used device Kilta were very identical and similar to the invented device in each respect.

No new result is obtained by the invented device as compared to the traditional Kilta.

It was further argued that the plaintiffs cannot claim a monopoly over a simple basket and that the plaintiff can only claim rights over a product if it is inventive, novel and industrious.

After hearing and Submissions of both the parties, the court checked some factors

The process of comparison for granting a Patent can be broken down:
  1. The first step is to construe the prior document as at the date of its publication, in accordance with the normal principles of construction, taking account of surrounding circumstances, but excluding subsequent documents, information and events, in short, excluding the benefit of hindsight.
  2. The next step is to compare the disclosure in each prior document separately with the disclosure in the patentee's claim, construed in accordance with the principles set out earlier.
  3. And the final step is to ask whether, on making the comparison, the prior document discloses the same invention as that disclosed in the patentee's claim. The patentee's claim has been anticipated if the "clear and unmistakable directions" in the prior publication, when carried out by the skilled workmen would "inevitably" result (not simply might result) to something being made or done which, if the patentee's claims were valid, would constitute an infringement.

In the present case none of the steps were taken by the appropriate authorities while granting the patent to applicant, authorities firstly just ignored the fact that said product was clear imitation of Kilta, which has been used by public from the time immemorial, and secondly the Nil Kamal Plastic Crates were already producing these kind of products and the products were amply available in the market.

References Taken By Court From Different Case Laws:
For deciding this case, court look over the previous Judgements and precedents for serving justice to the parties in a proper manner, some of them are :-

The question which arises for consideration is whether this change of material from bamboo to plastic and the development of adjustable nylon straps with buckles is an inventive step falling within the meaning of Section 2{ja)?

The answers can be found in views of The Apex Court in M/s. Bishwanath Prasad Radhey Shyam v. Hindustan Metal Industries,1The court said that:
While dealing with the meaning of the words 'inventive step' court held as follows: It is important to bear in mind that in order to be patentable an improvement on something known before or a combination of different matters already known, & also should be something more than a mere workshop improvement; and must independently satisfy the test of invention or an inventive step.

In the next case, the court said that:
Ram Narain Kher v. Ambassador Industries New Delhi and Another-1Delhi High Court observed that, If the invention was obvious, there could be no inventive step whatsoever.

An inventive step which is a necessary ingredient of invention in order to make an applicant eligible for grant of patent under the Act must be relating to an invention involving technical advance.

What Was The Decision Of The Court?
After taking into consideration all relevant information, document, evidences and submissions, the court stated that :-
  • The patented product was bearing resemblance and similarity to the traditionally used device Kilta and that it is a mere discovery of a new form of a known substance. Further, the plaintiffs could not establish that the invented device results in the enhancement of efficacies of the traditionally used device Kilta.
  • Any orthopaedic superiority could not be proved by the plaintiffs as no orthopaedic surgeon supported the same on evidence. It was further observed that Kilta has been used in agriculture since times immemorial and that the said invention could not be said to be novel.
  • The invention falls within the open coinage of Sec 3(p) of the Patents Act and is not an invention.
  • Being traditional knowledge, the factum that the invention is an inventive step is neglected.
  • Even though the raw material used is plastic and the invention is merely a duplication of Kilta and reiterates its known properties.
Thus the court revoked the patent granted to the plaintiffs A Device for Manually Hauling or we can say bringing of Agricultural Produce under Sec 642read with Sec. 13 of the Patent Act.3

Conclusions & Suggestions:
Lastly, The law has not left any room for providing justice even in case of intellectual property rights. In this case the plaintiff was granted the patent by law mistakenly or without consideration of the relevant facts.

The monopoly will be provided to the inventor only if the invention is completed through main essentials of the patent act, like non- obviousness, industrial Applicability, Novelty etc.

In this case, the things lacked were, Novelty, No inventive process, so law revoked the patent as it was following the conditions .

Also we know that, In product patents the inventor creates a true monopoly but not in process patent, but for creating a true monopoly the patent should have been granted by considering all the relevant facts.

Books And Journal:
  • Narayanan, Intellectual Property Law (3rd Edition, Eastern Publishing Company
  • V.K. Ahuja, Law Relating To Intellectual Property Rights (2nd Edition, Lexis Nexs Butterworths Wadhwa)
  • P. Narayan, Patent Law(4th Edition, Eastern Law House)
Statutes Referred:
  • Patent Act, 1970

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