Analysis of Summary Judgement of Skechers USA, Inc & Ors v. Pure Play Case

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The Delhi High Court imposed a whopping fine of Rs. 87lacs on Pure Play in the case of Skechers USA, Inc and Ors v. Pure Play sports for violating the Intellectual Property Rights of Skechers by manufacturing and distributing rip-offs of a Skechers’ GoWalk3 series shoe range. Skechers filed a case against Pure Play for which it was permitted interim injunction in May 2016. The order for the fine was decided by the Joint Registrar Raj Kumar Tripathi, according to Chapter 23 of the Delhi High Court Rules, 2018. After the order in 2015, the High Court again passed the summary judgement, even when there was no application filed for such a judgment.

Overview

Skechers filed a case against Pure Play proclaiming that Pure Play was imitating the distinctive and unique features of their footwear that were sold under the GoWalk3 series brand. They also claimed that Pure Play was trying to deceive and confuse the customers and the members of the trade with regard to the footwear’s origin and to establish a false association with the Skechers to sell their product under the name of Skechers.

Skechers not only claimed their exclusive trademark ownership but also showed GoWalk 3 series has unique elements which also included their trade dress. They provide many evidences to the court to prove the similarity and showed the deliberate attempts made by Pure Play to use their product. On the other side, Pure Play tried to prove the difference in both the company’s marks and logos, to vindicate their stand that both the products are not identical, and should not be confused as one. The defendant argued that customers tend to prefer high-ranged products by considering the price factor. They also averred that the plaintiffs haven’t registered their trade dress and designs.

Judgment

The Court passed the judgment in favor of the Skechers by granting the interim injunction. The court also stressed upon the ignorance on the part of the customer while purchasing any product. The court accepted that the GoWalk 3 series has a trade dress and unique elements, which acted as a source identifier. An injunction was granted by the court to avoid any kind of prejudice to the Skechers’ products.

Analysis

This is one of the few Intellectual Property Right cases, wherein the court passed the summary judgment. As per grounds lay in Rule 3, any party can seek for summary judgment at any time by serving the summons to the defendant. As per the Order 13A, summary judgement is passed to avoid lengthy court trials in the following case:

  1. When a claim pertaining to commercial disputes is decided without the recording of the oral evidence.
  2. When both the parties have no prospects of succeeding and the Court doesn’t find any reasons for not disposing of the case.

Order 13A was the latest addition to the Commercial Court Act, approved by the Cabinet, and the President on October 23, 2015. The most fascinating part of the case was that none of the parties filed an application for the summary judgement. However, Skechers wanted to file the application for the summary judgement under the Order 13A of the Code of Civil Procedure but were unable to do so because of the absence of its signatory. However, the court decided to go forward and passed the decree

This summary judgment on Skechers USA, Inc & Ors v. Pure Play overruled the previous judgement passed by the same Delhi High Court in the Bright Enterprise Private Ltd. & Anr. v. MJBizcraft LLP & Anr., passed on 4 January 2017.

It was the first case related to the proceeding of summary judgement, trademark infringement and goodwill dilutions. The court stated that “From the provisions laid out in Order XIIIA, it is evident that the proceedings before the court are adversarial in nature and not inquisitorial. It follows, therefore, that summary judgment under Order XIIIA cannot be rendered in the absence of an adversary and merely upon the inquisition by the Court. The Court is never an adversary in a dispute between parties”. The court also addressed how the summary judgement proceeding cannot happen without the filing of the trademark application under CPC, Rule 4  of Order 13 and the importance of the accused replied. The court also stressed upon that “a court may feel that the case of a Plaintiff is weak, but that is no ground whatsoever for throwing out the suit log, stock and barrel without giving the Plaintiff an opportunity of proving and establishing its case”.

Conclusion

This case was a watershed moment in the history of the summary judgement passed under Order 13A  for two reasons, first, the defendants weren’t given the chance to prove his side, and secondly, no applications were filed by the either of the plaintiffs. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com/

 

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