Delhi High Court Bans Aqualite from Infringing on Relaxo Footwears Design

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Bombay : The Delhi High Court on Friday barred Aqualite India Ltd and its officials from infringing on Relaxo Footwears Ltd designs until their pending lawsuit is settled. The HC Division bench overturned the single judge’s order that ordered both parties to conduct market research, before rejecting Relaxo’s plea for an interim injunction.

In the earlier order, the Single Judge, citing a market research report, found that the designs of Relaxo were not original and that other products with similar designs were available on the market. The judge also reviewed a letter from a sales manager for the Chinese manufacturer confirming that the bracelet had been in vogue for many years.

“This tribunal is not persuaded to accept that Aqualite India produced sufficient material for this tribunal to conclude that the design in question is merely a commercial variant and indistinguishable from known designs or a combination thereof here,” the bench headed by Judge Amit Mahajan said. “Aqualite India, its directors, principal officers and servants are prohibited from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, importing, exporting or dealing in any way with products violating the design in question until the combination is eliminated,” the bench added.

The Single Judge’s conclusion is not based on findings that the design in question is indistinguishable from designs known at the time of registration, but on a prima facie opinion that products having designs similar are available on the market. Thus, the Single Judge’s “prima facie” finding is unfounded, the bench said.

Relaxo had challenged the May 2019 Single Judge’s order under the Code of Civil Procedure after Aqualite India’s claim was granted by the bench. Relaxo has been engaged in the manufacture and sale of various kinds of shoes since 1976. On June 21, 2017, Relaxo had registered its shoes (slippers) design under the Designs Act and claimed that the design is novel. and unique in surface pattern, cuts, ridges, curves, graphics, but has not claimed exclusive rights to use the colors or color combination of the design in question.

The company further claimed that the design in question was originally created with its in-house design team and a UK-based design agency known as ‘The Footsoldiers’.

It was in 2018 when the shoe company became aware that Aqualite was manufacturing and selling the products, which it claimed infringed the design in question. As a result, he filed a lawsuit in the Delhi court. The court then issued an interim order prohibiting Aqualite from infringing the design of Relaxo.

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