Mumbai: The Madras high court on Friday returned an appeal filed by Madurai, Tamil Nadu-based electronics engineer S. Ramkumar to the Customs Appellate Tribunal, in a case related to his patent on dual SIM-card mobile phones.
Ramkumar was challenging the orders of Mumbai and Chennai customs commissioners stating that there is no infringement of his patent by mobile phone importers such as Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd, Hansum India Ltd and Spice Mobile Ltd.
The new decision comes after the high court had in June granted an interim stay in favour of Ramkumar, saying the customs authority may not be competent to decide on such matters.
SIM, or subscriber identification module, is a technology used to operate a wireless phone connection. A dual SIM mobile phone allows a user to subscribe to two telephone numbers without having to use two handsets.
Following Ramkumar’s submission to customs authorities to seize imports of mobile phones that infringed his January patent, customs commissioners at Mumbai and Chennai had in May ruled that the mobile phones imported by at least two firms do not infringe his patent.
However, a number of such phones had already been seized at airports after a request filed earlier this year by Ramkumar under the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules.
In his petition, Ramkumar had questioned the competence of customs officials to decide on patent issues.
“It’s a bad ruling as the judge didn’t consider our grounds that allows a petitioner to come to the court directly instead of going to the alternative remedy that is the customs tribunal,” said a lawyer at Chennai-based BSF Legal, a law firm that represented Ramkumar. Though the patent holder can go to the customs tribunal and then to civil courts in the event of an unfavourable decision, the lawyer said his firm hasn’t got any instruction on what to do next.
Dual SIM card phones are imported by at least 15 companies including Samsung, LG Electronics India Ltd and other domestic firms.