Engine war – Bajaj vs TVS
Bajaj to sue TVS
Bajaj DTSi (vs) TVS CC-VTi
Bajaj Auto Ltd is planning to sue its rival TVS Motor Co for “infringing” upon intellectual property rights(IPR) of its patented digital twin spark ignition (DTSi) technology. Bajaj Auto’s move to sue TVS comes two days after TVS unveiled its latest 125 cc bike ‘Flame’ with Controlled Combustion Variable Timing Intelligent (CC-VTi) technology. TVS had claimed that its 125cc ‘Flame’ is powered by an engine with CC-VTi technology, which features two different intake ports called swirl port and power port. TVS earlier used VTi(Variable Timing Ignition) engine for its economic bike ‘centra’. Bajaj Auto claims that the TVS has used its digital twin spark ignition technology (DTSi) in recent TVS models including the 125 cc bike, Flame.
“This is a case of IPR infringement issue. Prima facie we have a strong case. While we have had Chinese companies infringing our patented technology, this is the first time a fellow Indian company is doing it to us,” Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) CEO (Two-Wheelers) S Sridhar said. He also said, “We are shocked to see TVS using our patented technology for its 125cc Flame motorcycle.”
He said the company was convinced that there was a clear case of IPR violation by TVS on three counts and the company’s legal department was preparing to go to court at the earliest. “The first is the purpose for which they are doing it (use of twin spark ignition for enhanced performance and better mileage). Secondly, the size (of engine) is same and third, construction of engine is also the same,” Sridhar added. Mr Nandi Bajaj auto Marketing manager said that the new bike’s spark plugs were similar to those present in Bajaj’s DTSi bikes (two spark plugs located at opposite ends of the combustion chamber). Bajaj contends that TVS Motor’s 125 cc motor cycle also has spark plugs located at opposite ends of the compression chamber. Since location is the key to fuel efficiency and emission control, the design of TVS Motor’s vehicle infringes on their proprietary know-how.
Sridhar said the company’s lawyers were looking into the matter and would decide on the next course of action. “We will not let the bike (Flame) go under production with that engine”, he added.
This would be the second time in a year that Bajaj Auto would be taking legal action over infringement of its trademark rights. Early in February, Bajaj auto major took legal action against Chinese bike makers Taian Chiran Machinery Company, which had cloned its flagship Pulsar bike.
Although the twin spark plug system is not the first in the world, as bike makers such as Ducati had been using the same technology (twin spark plugs) on bigger engine capacity bikes (800cc-1000cc), Bajaj claims to be the first company to have used the same technology on smaller engine capacity bikes (150cc-220cc).
Bajaj holds the Indian patent for its DTSi(Digital Twin Spark ignition engine) which it uses for the pulsar’s, discover’s and scotter kristal. Recently, Bajaj unveiled its new engine DTS-Si(Digital Twin Spark Swirl Induction) and plans a new bike called eXceed for this engine. TVS 125 cc motor cycle ‘Flame’ is in direct competition with Bajaj’s Discover motorcycle and the upcoming new Exceed model.
TVS has not made any statement on this issue.
update 1: TVS replied to the charges
TVS Motors denied the charge. “TVS has not infringed on anyone’s technology. It’s our own technology developed by years of research at our Hosur facility,” said TVS Motors spokesperson Cecil K Dewars.
Senior executives of TVS Motors said that the company has been spending about 3% of its total sales, or about Rs 50 crore, on R&D, which ”resulted in the development of the new engine.”
“A substantial investment on R&D in the past three to four years has led to the creation of the 3-valve engine,” said an executive, adding that “the Controlled Combustion Variable Timing Intelligent technology (CC-VTi), has also been introduced in our new 125-cc bike Flame. It has been developed in collaboration with AVL Austria and there is no question of any imitation.”
Prasad Narsimhan, senior vice-president (marketing), TVS Motors, said, “A bike can have two spark plugs… it’s nothing unusual. We have also incorporated three valves on the same engine, which is the first of its kind in India. Bajaj Auto is free to do what it wants.”
Mr Venu Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, TVS Motor Company, said that TVS was a “principled company” and would not do anything unethical. “We believe we have not violated anybody’s property,” he said, adding that the company could defend itself in the courts, if necessary.
update 2: TVS hits back
TVS Motor Company plans to counter the Bajaj Auto by filing a suit against the Bajaj Auto if the latter does not withdraw its allegations that TVS infringed on Bajaj’s proprietary know-how. “We have been advised to initiate action for libel against Bajaj Auto Ltd and we in turn have advised our lawyers to put Bajaj Auto Ltd on notice that unless the malicious allegations are withdrawn and regrets expressed, TVS would file a suit for damages in a sum of Rs 250 crore,” says a company release.
“The allegation of Bajaj Auto is ridiculous and can be established by their own admission that the invention in issue – the application of twin spark plug is a known technology used extensively all over the world for decades and therefore, in patent law, it is a known prior art,” it says.