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The row between Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor over the recently-launched TVS Flame 125cc motorcycle has landed in the Supreme Court. Bajaj has moved the apex court alleging that the sale of TVS Flame motorcycle impinges upon its patent rights.

A bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan has refused to pass any interim order and posted the matter for hearing on January 18.

Bajaj's counsels CA Sundram and Mahesh Agrawal said that the TVS product infringes upon the patent rights of Bajaj Auto. The company holds the Indian rights in respect of a patent titled "an improved internal combustion engine working on four stroke principle" with a priority date of July 16, 2002. This invention relates to the use of twin spark plugs for efficient combustion of lean air-fuel mixture in small bore (bore diameter ranging from 45 mm to 70 mm) internal combustion engine working on four stroke principle, the company submitted in its petition.

TVS counsels Mukul Rohatgi and Vipin Nair opposed the plea. Mr Nair said that TVS Motor's motorbike in question is protected by a licence granted by a registered patent holder of multinational company AVL. TVS Flame 125 cc motorbike is a new version based on an innovation and does not relate to any motor bike produced by Bajaj, said Nair.

TVS Flame 125 cc bike was launched in December and Bajaj had approached the Chennai High Court. On December 19, a single-judge bench of the high court ordered status quo which was superseded by a division bench. Then, Bajaj approached the apex court.

Sources say the earlier talks between the two companies has now stopped entirely. TVS, which has launched the Flame in six cities, sold 'just a few hundred' so far. It will launch the bike nationwide this month and hopes to clock around 7,000-8,000 units.

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