Sep 4, 2007

TVS Responds to Bajaj

TVS has responded overnight to Bajaj's statement yesterday with this

TVS Flame Tail Pipe

TVS Motor is surprised at the wild and reckless allegations made by Bajaj Auto Ltd through the media charging TVS Motor with infringement of their intellectual property rights. The accusation is a malicious attempt to tarnish the fair name of TVS Motor and its promoter group TVS which has established reputation for highest standard for business ethic. Rebutting the malicious charge, TVS Motor had forthwith put Bajaj on notice that the accusation is libelous, asking them to withdraw the reckless charge or face law suit.

Even though the press statement issued on 9/1 explains the facts briefly, the management of TVS Motor considers it its duty to place the correct facts before all our stake holders and the public, so that they can judge for themselves how irresponsible the charges against us are and also to reaffirm our commitment to the highest standards of ethics in the conduct of business.

Our statement through the media on 9/1 had pointed out that that the allegation of Bajaj Auto was baseless and ridiculous would be evident from their own admission that the invention, which they claim has been infringed by us, is a known technology extensively in use all over the world for several decades. We had added that, under the Patent Law, this is known as 'prior art'. Inventions or works of 'prior art' are not patentable under the laws of India.

That ours is a technology company is self-evident from the fact that it was TVS Motors that had first developed the wholly in-house technology for and produced the first Indian Motorbike, the Victor, as early as 2002. The same was the case with the indigenous TVS Moped which the company developed during the days of the controlled economy and it is even today the most sought after small vehicle. We are firm believers in technology and we also believe in continuously upgrading it. We have been investing over 2.5% of our gross revenues in R&D activities and have a compliment of over 500 qualified engineers engaged in research and for new product developments. So in the field of technology TVS Motor actually enjoys the first mover position and we do not have the need to look anywhere other than our own R&D room for new technologies. But, since a reckless allegation has been made it is our duty as management of TVS Motor to formally tell its stakeholders that the technology developed by it does not in any way infringe the patent claimed by Bajaj Auto. The new technology of TVS Motor has been developed along with globally renowned engine research institute – AVL, Austria – and it is totally different from the technology used by Bajaj Auto. The brief explanation that follows will make evident.

If the correct facts of Bajaj Auto claim of patent are captured, that will be sufficient to disprove their charge. Bajaj Auto had, at first, filed a complete final claim for patent for its "DTSi" technology on 3rd July 2003 stating that "An improved internal combustion engine for efficient burning of lean air fuel mixture used in engines working in four stroke principle, characterized in that said IC Engine comprising of…. " But this was not the invention for which the patent was granted. Had they got the patent for this, which they could not have as this was, in patent law a prior art, then they could perhaps have claimed only they could use the two spark plug technology. But what happened was something else.

Before the grant of patent, Bajaj Auto Ltd had to amend, and in fact amended, its complete final claim on 5th November 2004, wherein Bajaj Auto Ltd reduced its claim to "An improved internal combustion engine for efficient burning of lean air fuel mixture used in engines working in four stroke principle, having two valves, characterized in that said IC Engine comprising of….,". This is critical. The patent, as granted rests on the two valves as the distinct new feature, not on the two spark plugs.

Thus Bajaj Auto's final claim to patent is based on "two valve engine". In contrast, TVS Motor's Internal Combustion Engine has three valves. In addition to this fundamental differential, which makes all the difference in law, each and every element of Bajaj Auto patent claim description, including "twin spark plugs", rests purely on "prior art". On a comparison of Bajaj Auto IC Engine with TVS Motor IC Engine, and also by applying the doctrines of all 'element rules' and 'equivalence' under Patent Law, any charge of "infringement" against TVS Motors by Bajaj Auto is clearly ridiculous.

Shortly stated, the patent rights claimed by Bajaj Auto Ltd for its Internal Combustion Engine is not for 'twin spark plugs' per se. It is for the use of twin spark plugs in two valve engine. On the other hand, TVS Motor's technology is a combination of its in-house developed innovative technology by name "VTi", and use of AVL's patented "3 Valves" technology in engine.

Notwithstanding that the patent claimed by Bajaj does not impact on the technology it has developed, TVS Motor has, based on legal advice, moved an application to revoke the patent granted to Bajaj Auto Ltd on the ground that patent claimed by Bajaj Auto Ltd is a known 'prior art'.

The most surprising part of the story of the irresponsible charge is that Bajaj Auto does not even know what is the configuration of the TVS Motor's new technology "CCVTi". And yet it has taken a leap in the dark and made such a serious allegation. TVS Motor is therefore insisting on Bajaj Auto withdrawing its malicious charge. If they do it TVS Motor will leave it at that. Otherwise it will go ahead with its libel suit. Again TVS Motor will ensure, by appropriate legal means, that Bajaj Auto does not interfere with its use of its in-house VTi technology on the basis of which it has already announced new launches commencing from November.