Backhoe loaders: Competition panel orders probe against JCB India

R Yegya Narayanan Coimbatore | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on March 16, 2014

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a probe into a complaint by a Coimbatore-based company against JCB India and another of seeking to stifle competition by denying market access to its backhoe loaders.

It is of the view that ‘predation through abuse of judicial processes’ presented an increasing threat to competition because of its ‘relatively low anti-trust visibility’.

It was brought before the commission by Bull Machines Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore, that JCB India and JC Bamford Excavators had served an ex-parte interim injunction order issued by the High Court of Delhi at the Èxcon 2011 Exhibition in Bangalore against it during the launch of ‘Bull Smart’, a light construction equipment (backhoe loader) alleging infringement of design registration/copyright of JCB. They also caused stoppage of production of the backhoe loader ‘Bull Smart’ and all moulds and components were seized.

The court order also barred the dealers from displaying any promotional material at dealerships.

The Commission directed the Director General to hold an investigation into the matter and complete it within 60 days from the receipt of the order.

Bull Machines, seeking vacation of the ex-parte interim stay, filed a petition before the High Court claiming that there was no similarity in the design of the backhoe loader developed by it and the designs registered by JCB.

It further alleged that JCB `misrepresented the images and design registration numbers/documents’ and `misled’ the Delhi High Court to secure an ad-interim ex-parte injunction in its favour.

The company also adduced evidence before the Controller of Designs ‘to show that the design registrations obtained by JCB were fraudulently obtained’.

Nearly 10 months after filing the suit, JCB, much to the surprise of the petitioner, ‘voluntarily withdrew its application for ex-parte interim injunction without submitting any inspection report or reply’.

Because of this, the Delhi High Court dismissed the case as withdrawn. Though the ex-parte interim order was vacated, the petitioner alleged that `huge irreparable damages had been already caused’ to the Coimbatore company and ‘JCB’s objectives achieved’.

The petitioner pleaded to the Commission to direct JCB to ‘cease and desist’ from misusing or abusing judicial process to exclude competitors, including the petitioner and penalise JCB for its anti-competitive practices in contravention of the provisions of the law.

Published on March 16, 2014
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