TVS says Bajaj Auto tech not patentable

TVS says Bajaj Auto tech not patentable
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First Published: Tue, Sep 04 2007. 12 28 AM IST
Mumbai / New Delhi: Bajaj Auto Ltd, India’s second largest two-wheeler maker, said on Monday it will defend its intellectual property rights on the engine technology that helped the company reinvent itself and reiterated that it may sue smaller rival TVS Motor Co.?Ltd,?if it?finds the latter has copied this technology.
TVS, on its part, said its technology is different and challenged Bajaj’s claim that it is a patented technology.
Called digital twin spark ignition, or DTSi, the technology uses two igniters for the fuel instead of one to enhance fuel efficiency and was patented by Bajaj some years ago. Bajaj uses it on three of its models—Pulsar, Avenger and Discover—and plans to launch a new motorcycle called Exceed based on this engine.
It is this technology that helped Bajaj build its market share and transform itself from a scooter maker to a motorbike major in the last six years. It uses the technology to differentiate itself from other motorbike makers, and allowing others to copy this would result in the technology losing its uniqueness, Bajaj Auto claims.
“DTSi technology is going to be central to all products developed in the future by Bajaj Auto,” said S. Sridhar, chief executive officer of the two-wheelers division at Bajaj.
In a statement, the firm said the use of twin igniters in small automotive engines is worthy of intellectual protection and it will “inflict maximum permissible damage upon the offender so as to set an effective precedent for the future.”
“The new technology of TVS Motor has been developed along with globally renowned engine research institute—AVL, Austria—and it is totally different from the technology used by Bajaj Auto,” TVS said in a statement.
TVS also said its technology didn’t infringe the patent since its engine has three valves, which regulate the inflow of fuel and air and outflow of exhaust gases, compared with two valves, for which Bajaj has a patent.
Bajaj Auto, however, insists that the use of a third valve is a neutral element in the engine as it does not enhance quality. “As a rule, a third valve increases the efficiency of an engine,” said Amit Pal, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Delhi College of Engineering.
Bajaj has previously filed and won suits against a Chinese bike maker, Taian Chiran Machinery Co. Ltd, which had been selling a copy of the Pulsar that uses this technology in Latin America and Sri Lanka. In November, a Sri Lankan court asked the Chinese company and its local distributor to stop selling the products.
On Sunday, TVS, India’s third largest two-wheeler maker, threatened to sue Bajaj for slander after the latter said TVS may have copied this technology and used it in a new bike called Flame, which was unveiled last week.
In response, Bajaj said that “if the product appears to suggest reasonable grounds for infringement,” it would take action. TVS filed for the revocation of the Bajaj patent in the Chennai high court in the last week of August, and said the use of twin igniters cannot be patented. “We have done it (filing for revocation) purely as a precautionary measure,” said H.S. Goindi, senior vice-president at TVS.
TVS said it intends to launch its motorcycle according to plan at the end of October. Bajaj expects to launch the Exceed next week.
The new launches are crucial for both companies, which have witnessed declining sales in the past five months as customers stayed away from buying motorcycles due to lending rates that are at a five-year high. The models are also expected to boost the companies’ sales in the executive segment, which makes up 40% of the market. This segment is currently dominated by Hero Honda Motors Ltd.
(abhineet.k@livemint.com)
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First Published: Tue, Sep 04 2007. 12 28 AM IST