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Courts in India take a tougher stance on software copyright infringement

A local court in Ahmedabad, India, recently passed an encouraging judgement in favour of Trimble Solutions Corporation. The decision reaffirms Indian judiciary's changing outlook on dealing with intellectual property infringement matters. Trimble is to receive USD 84,000 due to illegal use of Tekla Structures software.

Trimble Solutions Corporation filed a civil case along with its subsidiary Trimble Solutions India Pvt. Ltd. for infringement of copyright against an Ahmedabad based engineering and design company that used the Tekla Structures [former X-Steel] software for its engineering projects and other commercial activities without appropriate licences. The District and Sessions Court of Mirzapur in Ahmedabad passed a judgment against the defendants and awarded Rs. 58,75,000 [ca. USD 84,000] to Trimble, comprising of both legal costs and compensation for the loss of revenue on account of illegal versions.

“IT protection and respect for others’ intellectual property has been an unknown phenomenon for the majority globally,” says Harsh Pareek, Regional Sales Director of Trimble Solutions India. “There is a mass of misinformation in the end-user software piracy space, especially when it comes to enforcement of copyright. Combatting the prevailing notion requires a paradigm shift, and this court decision is a promising start for IP owners, especially in software.”

The case concerns infringement of copyright in the software and the interpretation of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. Trimble requested a permanent injunction restraining the defendants and their representatives, such as principal officers, directors, agents, franchisees and servants from directly or indirectly copying, reproducing, storing, installing and/or using counterfeit or unlicensed versions of Trimble software products.

“Such high damages have been rarely granted by the lower district courts, especially those located outside the periphery of IPR's dominant jurisdictions,” Harsh continues. “It is very common for the defendants in such cases to delay or avoid appearance altogether, which generally hinders the court proceedings. However, as a breath of fresh air, the District Court of Ahmedabad moved swiftly to reach a verdict without undue delays awarding exemplary damages.”

“Software companies expend large amounts of resources and time in research, development and innovation to create products that make their clients’ work and lives more convenient. Lack of deterrent directions from courts usually confirms the layman’s comprehension of intellectual property rights, thereby fuelling activities which are not only averse to the interest of the IP owner, but in violation of law. This judgment leaves no room for clemency and deters the end-users from blatant violation of intellectual property rights vested in the software owner,” Harsh concludes.