BHARAT SINGH
in Intellectual Property Law
Asked January 16, 2015

applicability of limitation act in criminal cases

  • 1 Answer
  • 219 Views

RELEVANT FACTS 1. The present dispute is between two companies both of which are travel agencies. 2. COMPANY A i.e. ‘Travel Master’ is into the business from 2002 and for the same has registered the domain name "www.travelmaster.com" for the purpose of exploring its business. 3. However on somewhere around 2008, Travel Master found that there are several similar domain names existing in the market for i.e. (travelmaster. in; travelmaster01.com etc) all of which were registered in the name of “India trip” company. 4. Hence ‘Travel master’ wrote a letter to ‘India Trip’ informing it about the domain names existing and further prayed for the transfer of the same domains back to ‘Travel Master'. 5. ‘India Trip’ did the same and transferred all the infringing domain names back to them. Also ‘India trip’ informed the ‘Travel Master’ that they were not directly responsible for the registration of the said domain names and one of their employees did so. 6. Hence the dispute settled there. 7. Again in 2012, almost after 4 years of the negotiation ‘Travel Master’ filed a CRIMINAL CASE against the ‘India trip’ alleging under section 419 and 420 of the IPC (Cheating & Fraud respectively) and under section 104 of the trademarks act. 8. The real case from the side of the defendants is that ‘Travel Master’ is now suing the ‘India-trip’ after such a long time in order to DEFAME the company. the defendants are also contending that in 2008, the complainants had the opportunity to file the case in court however they solved the matter "formally" by asking for the transfer of the disputed domain names and the "India-Trip' company did similarly. Hence the complainants can not raise the matter again in courts on the same issues that has already been settled between the parties after such a long time of 4 years. further, they call such attempt of the complainants to file the "already resolved case' to be maliciously drawn. Can “’Travel Master’ make the criminal matter before the court after a long time of 4 years.

Answer 1

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Shruthee Srinivasan
The present dispute is that of an IPR violation, dealing particularly with the issue of time limit for filing an application for patent infringement after an out-of-court deal struck out between the parties. Under the Limitation Act, 1963 it is clearly provided that the period of limitation for filing a suit for infringement of a trademark is three years from the date of infringement. However, if the infringement is a continuing one, then a new course of action arises every time an infringement occurs. Under the Indian Patent Laws, the executive has come up with the Manual of Patent Office Practise and Procedure1. The Manual clearly lays down that the time limit of three years must be adhered to while filing for a patent application. In the present scenario, the limitation period has definitely been surpassed. However, for the purposes of future reference, it is necessary to lay down the law applicable in all possible circumstances. If two parties settle for an out-of-court deal regarding infringement of one’s intellectual property rights, there is a provision for registering the deal with the Controller General of Patents. This registration gives it a legal backing and makes it enforceable in a court of law. In the event one party takes the other party to court, the court can take cognisance of the registered written agreement between the parties and refuse to entertain the application on grounds that it is already settled. As evident from the facts given there seems to be no such registered document available, the party has complete immunity to take the other to court; and the court can decide accordingly. Consequently, in the present scenario, it does not seem like Travel Master had any written registered deal with the patent office; the agreement by India Trip to remove the existing domain names was a private one with no seal of any authority. Therefore, Travel Master could have taken India Trip to court on this already settled issue of patent infringement; however, because it delayed the application beyond the limitation period of three years, this application stands to be rejected.
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