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About 1/3rd of people living in Indian households are dependent on two-wheelers for commuting from one place to another. Increase in demand for two-wheelers led to an increase in the manufacture of different types of bikes and scooters, having variable and advanced features like designs, power and price bracket. Despite fairly high competition, the motorcycle manufacturing giants, Bajaj Auto Motors and TVS Motors kept their goodwill and market presence alive.
However, things between these two homegrown two-wheeler brands took a woeful turn in 2007, resulting in a decade long litigation. In September 2007, Bajaj Auto Motors accused TVS Motors of infringing its patent rights for the digital twin spark plug ignition known as DTS-I when TVS Motors unveiled its new motorcycle named Flame 125cc. Bajaj Auto filed an infringement suit under Section 106 and 108 of the Patents Act, 1960 and claimed that TVS CCVTi (Controlled Combustion Variable Timing Intelligence) technology, used in various products, including the Pulsar series was a duplication of DTS-i. Whereas, TVS argued that CCVTi technology was different from the technology used by Bajaj Auto since the flame was fitted with a three-valve engine.
In addition to the infringement suit, various defamation suits were filed by TVS Motors against Bajaj and other related proceedings were filed against each other in various courts including the Madras High Court, the Bombay Court as well as courts in Sri Lanka and Mexico. Moreover, another proceeding was pending before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
After hearing arguments of both the parties, the apex court of India, through an order, prohibited TVS Motors from manufacturing and marketing Flame series and further directed the Madras High Court to entertain all pending interim applications. In the year 2009, the Madras High Court gave a green to TVS Motors permitting it to use the twin-spark ignition technology stating that there was a prima facie difference between three-valve and two-valve configuration.
Finally, after 12 years of legal tussle, TVS Motors and Bajaj Auto decided to adopt a peaceful way and harmoniously resolve their disputes over patent issues. Both the parties withdrew their pending suits from various courts and entered into a settlement agreement to amicably settle down all the grievances arising out of this decade-old controversy. The courts stated that “Both, TVS Motor and Bajaj Auto have mutually agreed to withdraw the pending proceedings and release each other from all liabilities, claims, demands and actions in respect of the pending proceedings”. It was further added that “As part of the settlement, none of them is required to pay any compensation or penalty to the other as part of the said settlement”.