Parties not allowed to raise same issue before multiple forums: SC

In an important ruling, the Supreme Court of India clarified that a party seeking revocation of a patent should not be allowed to raise the same issue before different adjudicating forums, and in case of such multiple filings the appropriate adjudicating forum will depend upon the date of institution of proceedings before the forums.

“Therefore, where an issue is already pending adjudication between the same parties, in a Court having jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the same, a subsequently instituted suit on the same issue between the same parties, cannot be allowed to proceed”, the Court said, adding, “If the respondents in their capacity as “any person interested”, had filed a “revocation petition” before the institution of an “infringement suit”, they cannot be permitted to file a “counter-claim” on the same cause of action. The natural conclusion in the above situation would be, the validity of the grant of the patent would have to be determined in the “revocation petition””.

Favoring a harmonious construction of relevant provisions of the Patent Act, especially Section 25 and 64, the Court said, “even though more than one remedies are available to the respondents in Section 64 of the Patents Act, the word “or” used therein separating the different remedies provided therein, would disentitle them, to avail of both the remedies, for the same purpose, simultaneously.”

The Court provided the following conclusions: –

Firstly, if “any person interested” has filed proceedings under Section 25(2) of the Patents Act, the same would eclipse all similar rights available to the very same person under Section 64(1) of the Patents Act. This would include the right to file a “revocation petition” in the capacity of “any person interested” (under Section 64(1) of the Patents Act), as also, the right to seek the revocation of a patent in the capacity of a defendant through a “counter-claim” (also under Section 64(1) of the Patents Act).

Secondly, if a “revocation petition” is filed by “any person interested” in exercise of the liberty vested in him under Section 64(1) of the Patents Act, prior to the institution of an “infringement suit” against him, he would be disentitled in law from seeking the revocation of the patent (on the basis whereof an “infringement suit” has been filed against him) through a “counter-claim”.

Thirdly, where in response to an “infringement suit”, the defendant has already sought the revocation of a patent (on the basis whereof the “infringement suit” has been filed) through a “counter-claim”, the defendant cannot thereafter, in his capacity as “any person interested” assail the concerned patent, by way of a “revocation petition”.

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