Indian court orders guilty pharma firm to donate to Kerala disaster fund

Court directs firm to deposit a sum of Rupees 1.5 million towards the Kerala relief work in the aftermath of the recent floods.


The Bombay high court found pharmaceutical firm Galpha Laboratories guilty in a trademark infringement case, and has ordered it to donate Rs 1.50 million ($211,000) to the Kerala disaster fund. Ruling on the case, Justice Kathawalla said in his order ‘drugs are not sweets. Pharmaceutical companies which provide medicines for health of the consumers have a special duty of care towards them.’

Habitual infringement

The court ordered the company to deposit the funds to the Kerala chief minister's fund for flood relief work. Justice Kathawalla held that Galpha Laboratories was an ‘habitual infringer’ of various medicinal products, whose trademarks have been registered by other pharma companies. The court was hearing a suit filed by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals against Galpha Laboratories for allegedly infringing upon its medicinal cream products. According to Glenmark, the defendant companies were selling a cream 'Clodid B' with the same design and pattern as that of Glenmark's 'Candid B' cream. The court accepted the arguments and noted that there has been a systematic copy of Glenmark Pharmaceutical's products. Taking note of the fact that several other pharma companies have also filed cases against Galpha Laboratories for alleged infringement in various courts, Justice Kathawalla said, ‘there is, therefore, no doubt in my mind that the Defendant No.2 (Galpha) is a habitual offender with a set modus operandi of copying brands of other companies to make profits.’

Clouded judgement

The court initially ordered Galpha to pay the sum to Glenmark. However, Glenmark requested the court to direct Galpha Laboratories to deposit the sum in any NGO. Justice Kathawalla stated, these companies, in fact, have a greater responsibility towards the general public. However, nowadays, the corporate and financial goals of such companies cloud the decision of its executives whose decisions are incentivised by profits, more often than not, at the cost of public health. This case is a perfect example of just that.’ Justice Kathawalla added, ‘considering the catastrophe that has hit Kerala recently and the fact that Kerala flood situation is a disaster of serious nature, which has been categorised as L3 Level of disaster by the National Disaster Management Guidelines, Galpha Laboratories should pay the costs of Rs 1,50,00,000 as a donation to the Kerala Chief Minister Distress Relief Fund.’

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