V. Manicka Thevar Vs. Star Plough Works, Melur
AIR 1965 Madras 327
Appellant filed a suit against the Respondent for permanent injunction from manufacturing and selling certain patterns of ploughs on the ground that the same was an infringement of the Appellant’s patent. The Appellant secured an interim injunction, but, on an application filed by the Respondent, the interim injunction was vacated. The Appellant preferred the present appeal.
Appellant’s case was that in the course of business he has been experimenting and inventing new patterns of ploughs and that he obtained a patent in respect of a particular pattern of plough, having a special twist distinguishing his pattern from the other ploughs in the market. Somewhere around, March 1964, Respondent slavishly imitated the plaintiff’s pattern by manufacturing ploughs and selling the same in the market.
The injunction was denied to the Patentee/Appellant on the following grounds:
• Patent is very recent one.
• Decisions have uniformly taken the view that any patent which is less that six years old is regarded as a recent one. An interim injunction will not be granted if the patent which has been obtained by the plaintiff is a recent one and there is a serious controversy about the validity of the grant of the patent itself.
• Terrel on Patent, 9th Edn pages 318-320 shows that a patentee should show undistributed possession of the enjoyment of the patent at least for a period of six years before the controversy arose.
• There is also a serious controversy about the validity of the grant of the patent touching the originality or the inventive genius of the plaintiff or as to how far the prior knowledge holding the field would disentitle the plaintiff to the grant of the patent. The defendant is certainly not a new entrant in the field but he has himself been a dealer, manufacturer and seller of ploughs of various patterns.
The Appeal was dismissed.
Author’s Comments: Manicka Thevar, was probably the first case in India, on the ‘six year rule’. As per the ‘six year rule’, if the patentee used the patent for six years and their is no oppposition to the validity of the patent for six years, the patent is considered to be prima facie valid. This rule is not supported by any legislative guideline. The Patents Act, 1970 gives no prima facie validity to Patent. In light of the same, the ‘six year rule’ giving validity to patent, is an incorrect approach to law. It cannot be denied that it could be a guiding factor, but not much weight can be placed upon it. Recently, the Delhi High Court deviated from the said rule in 3M Innovative Properties Company & Anr. Vs. Venus Safety & Health Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. and said the same cannot be applied in general in patent matters.
We agree with the said approach of the Delhi High Court.