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Twin spark plug ignited controversy

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TVS Motor’s Flame had ‘controlled combustion variable timing intelligent’ (CCVTi) engine

Our Bureau

Chennai, Feb. 16 At the heart of the TVS-Bajaj patent dispute is the motorcycle engine with two spark plugs, which ignite in quick succession, within milliseconds of each other.

This enables fuller burning of fuel and, hence, enhances power and fuel efficiency.

This Digital Twin Spark ignition (DTSi) was first invented by Honda, for which the Japanese major got a patent in 1985.

The patent was valid for 20 years.

In 2005, Bajaj received a patent for an adapted version of the DTSi engine.

The adaptation essentially applied the technology for engines of smaller capacities (lower cc), which normally use only one such plug. Normally, engines of smaller cc use only one spark plug.

Last year, TVS Motor launched the Flame motorcycle with what it called ‘controlled combustion variable timing intelligent’ (CCVTi) engine.

This, again, used two spark plugs, but with three valves instead of two.

Bajaj felt that this was no different than its DTSi and, hence, an infringement of its patent.

The TVS contention was that the third valve, which acts as a secondary inlet valve, made a significant difference in performance and fuel economy.

Bajaj felt the third valve was a “cosmetic change” intended to beat its patent.

In the court, TVS argued that the DTSi technology used by Bajaj was in the first place not worthy of patent because of “lack of novelty, inventiveness, obviousness and being a part of priori art (or, already existing).”

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 17, 2008)
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