HC Imposes Cost Of Rs 1.5 Crore On 2 Pharma Cos For Dishonest Conduct In Copyright Dispute

HC Imposes Cost Of Rs 1.5 Crore On 2 Pharma Cos For Dishonest Conduct In Copyright Dispute

MUMBAI, 22 SEPT 2018: In another case involving the sale of counterfeit drugs and medicines, the Bombay High Court has imposed costs amounting to Rs 1.5 crore on habitual offenders Twin Impex and National Laboratories.


It was only last month that Justice SJ Kathawalla imposed similar costs on Galpha Laboratories Ltd, for their audacious disregard for the rule of law in passing off their counterfeit drug products as genuine.


Noting that similar concerns were raised in the instant trademark infringement suit brought against Twin Impex and National Laboratories, the judge has directed both defendants to pay Rs 75 lakhs each as costs.


Advocate Hiren Kamod appeared for the plaintiff, along with Advocates Mahesh Mahadagut and Poonam Teddu.


The Court noted that the heavy costs imposed were necessary, given that public health is being harmed through the nefarious activities of such  fraudsters. In the order passed earlier this month, Justice Kathawalla observes,


“… when the Court is confronted with infringers and fraudsters such as the present Defendants, who callously disregard the faith placed in them with the intent to hoodwink innocent consumers and fill their cofers at the cost of the health and safety of these trusting consumers, then the Court has no option but to come down heavily and unsparingly on such errant parties.


The infamous fraternity of fraudsters and counterfeit drug manufacturers must get the message loud and clear that the Courts will deal with them sternly and uphold the rights of hapless consumers who are made victims of the nefarious activities of such unethical drug manufacturers.


In this case, the Court found that the way in which the defendants’ products were packed was a clear indication of their intention to sell their products dishonestly by passing it off as the plaintiffs’ products.


There is no iota of doubt in my mind that the adoption of word mark, art work, colour scheme, font style, manner of writing, and trade dress of the Defendants’ impugned products is fraudulent. The blatant copying / reproduction of the Plaintifs’ trade mark/label by the Defendants speaks volumes of their dishonesty. It is evident that the only intention of the Defendants is to come as close as possible to the Plaintifs’ products in order to make illicit gains.


The Court also observed that the defendants were habitual offenders. Similar action for trademark infringement had also been initiated against them in 2003 and 2009. By continuing to sell such illegal products, both parties had also violated undertakings given by them to Court while settling these earlier suits. Inter alia, it was also noted that in National Laboratories’ case, invoices were raised in the name of fictitious persons, further proving the dishonest intentions of the defendant.


In this backdrop, both defendants submitted that they were willing to give fresh undertakings that they would not indulge in such illegal activities in the future. They also intimated their willingness to pay costs deemed appropriate by the Court.


In view of factual similarities between the instant case and the earlier case against Galpha Laboratories, the Court proceeded to order a Rs 1.5 crore penalty as follows,


Considering the dishonest conduct of the Defendants and considering the fact that the parties have left it to this Court to decide the amount of costs, even in the present case, I direct that an amount of Rs.1,50,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore Fifty Lakhs Only) shall be jointly and/or severally paid towards costs.


Twin Impex and National Laboratories were directed to pay Rs 75 lakhs each to the Tata Memorial Hospital by September 24, 2018. Further, the defendants were also directed to give personal undertakings to the Court to withdraw their counterfeit products from the market and destroy the same. The case has been posted to be taken up on Monday for compliance of the order.


Citation: Shalina Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. vs Twin Impex and National Laboratories, Bombay High Court in its Commercial Division, COMIP (L) No. 1143 of 2018, D/d 10.9.201. Bar & Bench