Delhi High Court passes interlocutory injunction against manufacturing/selling ‘Blueberry Nexus32’ keyboard having similar trade design as Casio company’s keyboards

The plea of novelty or originality must be examined vis-à-vis the date of registration of the suit design. The existence, thereafter, of any number of similar designs in the market, or even the publication of any number of similar designs, cannot indicate any want of novelty or originality in the suit design, within the meaning of Section 19(1)(c) or Section 4(a) of the Designs Act.

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a suit filed by the Casio Keisanki Kabushiki Kaisha (plaintiff), a well-known entity engaged in the manufacture of, among other things, musical keyboards, seeking an injunction against Riddhi Siddhi Retail Venture (defendants) and all other acting on their behalf from manufacturing or selling any keyboards carrying the impugned design or any other design, which is deceptively similar to the suit design, C. Hari Shankar, J., held that the plea by defendants that the suit design is liable for cancellation on the ground of want of novelty and originality is, therefore, without substance and entitled the plaintiff to interlocutory injunction.

The plaintiff is aggrieved by the adoption of a nearly identical design for its keyboard sold by the defendants under the brand name —Nexus32, under its registered trademark —Blueberry. The plaint asserts that the suit design has become indelibly associated with the plaintiff and has, over a period, acquired secondary significance. The purchasing public, it is submitted, invariably associates the suit design with the plaintiff’s keyboard.

On perusal of the photographs of the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s keyboards emphasizing the likeness of the design of the two, the Court noted that the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s keyboards are deceptively similar in design. Thus, the design of the defendant’s keyboard is an obvious imitation of the suit design within the meaning of Section 22(1)12 of the Designs Act.

On the submission made by the defendant that the plaintiff’s design is not new or original, the Court opined that the onus to prove want of novelty or originality, when urged as a ground of defence, would be on the defendants urging such defence. Therefore, it is for the defendants to produce material before the Court to indicate that the date when the suit design was registered, it was not new or original.

On having no such material forthcoming on the record to indicate that it suffers from prior publication, the Court held that there is nothing to substantiate that the suit design was liable to cancellation on account of want of novelty or originality.

[Casio Keisanki Kabushiki Kaisha v. Riddhi Siddhi Retail Venture, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 677, decided on 07-02-2023]

Judgment By: Justice C. Hari Shankar.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Rishi Bansal, Mr. Arpit and Mr. Deepak Advocate for the Plaintiff;

Mr. Arnav Goyal Advocate for the Defendants.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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