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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Design infringement litigation in Indonesia

Design cases are always worth looking at to see how the court deals with the various complexities. Infringement cases help understand damages awards. So IP Komodo was curious about the story of one inventor's battle against a national champion.

M Rimba Aritonang filed a design for a Pipe Joint with features which protect natural gas pipe joints from catching fire due to presence of flames or through the sun. In November 2012 he filed a lawsuit at the Commercial Court of Central Jakarta against PNG, the Indonesian national gas company.  He alleged that PGN has been producing and using an apparatus using his design since 2006 without his authorization. Alleging breach of the Designs law he demanded compensation of IDR 132 billion (132 million USD).

PGN defended on the basis that the design registration should have not been granted by the Directorate of Industrial Designs (IPO) as it has absolutely no uniqueness or distinctiveness over prior disclosures, thus lacked novelty.
 
However the court found in April 2013 that PGN infringed the design and the judges decided that PGN must pay Rp.180 million (USD18,000) as compensation. 
 
The courts do struggle with novelty challenges and seem to generally presume that the IPO's examination must have been correct so few cases are rejected thus. The energy industry is prolific at patenting in Indonesia and there are many small inventors in this area who know how to leverage IP against the big boys. At least the damages award seems relatively sensible.

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