Mumbai: The Mumbai commissioner of customs has ruled that importers of dual-SIM mobile phones, such as Samsung India Electronics Pvt Ltd and Chennai-based Hansum India Ltd, have not infringed a patent held by Madurai-based engineer S. Ramkumar.
SIM, or subscriber identification module, is the technology that uniquely identifies a mobile phone connection.
After hearing Samsung as well as the patent holder on a petition filed by the Korean firm at Mumbai Customs last week, Mumbai commissioner of customs (imports) Mathew John ruled that the claim made by Ramkumar was “vexatious.”
The imports did not infringe the patent granted to him, John said.
The Chennai patent office had in January 2008 granted a patent to Ramkumar for mobile phones with the capability of using two SIM cards. Under the patent, Ramkumar appealed to customs officials at all airports to seize the imports of such phones unless they are licensed by the patent holder for a fee ranging between Rs35 and Rs50 a handset.
These phones are imported by at least 15 companies including Samsung, LG Electronics India Ltd and several domestic importers.
While the patent has been challenged by Samsung, Spice Mobile Ltd and a few members of the Indian Cellular Association at the Indian patent dispute redressal forum Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) by post-grant opposition, customs authorities had already seized imports at a number of airports.
“Demurrage and other warehousing charges arising due to suspension of clearance are liquidated amounts and are to be borne by the patent holder,” John said in his ruling.
The Chennai commissioner of customs had also ruled in favour of the importers early last week. This is the first time that the customs officials have ruled in a patent case.
A Samsung Electronics spokesperson in India said, “We welcome the decision of the Customs authority, and our position on this issue has been upheld.”
Ramkumar was not available for comment on Monday.