T. Murrali

Chennai, May 19 Despite the Madras High Court giving the go ahead to TVS Motor Company for manufacturing and marketing the 125-cc Flame, whose use of the “twin spark plug” technology resulted in a court battle with Bajaj, the company is not keen on manufacturing the model.

Passing orders on Monday, a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Mr Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla observed that the facts disclose a mass of difference between the two types (Flame and XCD 125) of vehicles manufactured by TVS and Bajaj. These two models are distinctly identifiable and there was absolutely no scope for injunction.

Indications from Bajaj Auto are that the company will go for an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Mr H.S. Goindi, President (Marketing), TVS Motor Company, told Business Line that in spite of the company winning the infringement case, it would not revive and introduce Flame with two spark plugs in the near future.

However, TVS Motor plans to launch a new variant of Flame – likely to be named Flame Plus – next month. This will be an improvised version of the existing model with minor changes. The company will launch the Apache 180 RTR soon, he said.

TVS unveiled the 125-cc Flame in August 2007, but soon after that Bajaj Auto stated that it would sue TVS Motor for patent breach over the use of twin spark plugs in Flame, a technology that Bajaj claimed was its own. The very next day TVS said it would slap a Rs 250-crore libel suit against Bajaj Auto if the company did not withdraw the allegation and apologise. The following day Bajaj threatened TVS with maximum damage.

TVS refuted Bajaj’s claims, stating that its controlled combustion variable timing intelligent technology was different from Bajaj’s DTSi (Digital Twin Spark Ignition), and launched Flame in December 2007. Later the Madras High Court restrained TVS from booking, distributing or selling Flame.

Based on the injunction issued by the Madras High Court against the use of the twin spark plug engine, TVS Motor began selling Flame with a single spark plug engine.

Though company officials declined to put a number to the total sales of Flame since launch, sources among TVS Motors vendors say the company could have sold around 50,000 units. Most the dealers said they sold few hundreds between March and August 2008 and the numbers dropped to single digit later.

Related Stories:
Order staying TVS’ Flame sale suspended
‘Bajaj will defend intellectual property rights’
TVS plans suit against Bajaj
TVS infringing on proprietary know-how: Bajaj Auto

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 20, 2009)
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