TVS wins back right to sell its Flame bike following HC ruling

TVS wins back right to sell its Flame bike following HC ruling

Chennai: The Madras high court has allowed TVS Motor Co. Ltd, India’s third largest motorcycle maker, to take bookings for its new bike, TVS Flame, a day after a single judge of the same court restrained the company from doing so after a rival bikemaker sought a restraint.

The lifting of the order may help TVS, which has been battling falling sales in the nine months to November, to stoke demand for its bikes and compete with Bajaj Auto Ltd, the company with which it is locked in a legal battle. Bajaj, India’s second largest bike maker by volume launched a bike called Exceed that competes for the same customer a few months ago.

Judges V. Ramasubramanian and A.P. Shah, who is also the chief justice of Madras high court, suspended the order of a single-judge bench that asked both TVS and rival Bajaj to maintain ‘status-quo’. Bajaj declined to comment for this article. The dispute relates to a technology called digital twin spark ignition (DTSi), which has two igniters instead of one for better fuel efficiency. Bajaj claims to have patented this in 2005 and has previously said TVS may have infringed this technology. “TVS is now free to accept booking for the ‘Flame’ motorcycle," said A.L. Somayaji, senior lawyer representing TVS in the case.

Bajaj’s accusation led a series of claims and counterclaims. TVS launched Flame, a 125cc bike using similar technology recently in the popular executive segment, which makes up 50% of motorcycle sales in India. Bajaj uses the DTSi engine technology in four of its models—Pulsar, Avenger, Exceed and Discover—and the technology has helped the firm increase its market share. TVS, on its part, has previously said its technology is different and challenged Bajaj’s claim that it is patented.

There are several cases going on in this matter. The first one relates to TVS filing a petition under Section 106 of Patent Act, which deals with power of court to grant relief in “cases of groundless threat of infringement proceedings." Besides this suit, TVS has filed two more suits against Bajaj in the Bombay high court to claim damages for defamation and another for revocation of Bajaj’s patent in the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, a quasi-judicial body. Subsequently, Bajaj filed a petition asking the court to restrain TVS from selling Flame till the next hearing in the first week of January 2008. This petition came up for hearing on Wednesday and Bajaj got an order restraining TVS from accepting further booking.