Damages, as the name implies, refers to a form of compensation as a result of breach, loss or injury. Punitive damages are pecuniary compensation awarded to punish the at-fault party, particularly for any intentional, malicious or outrageous act and for harming the rights of others.
Punitive damages are granted as exemplary damages, which are awarded in addition to actual damages, to discourage any malpractice that is intended to adversely impact the rights of others. Indian statutes lack any express provision for punitive damages, however, the judicial approach in this regard has been appreciable. Judges have recognized the concept of punitive damages, and have awarded them in several cases.
With respect to intellectual property (IP), Delhi High Court granted punitive damages for the first time in addition to compensatory damages in Time Inc v Lokesh Srivastava & Anr (2005), observing that “the time has come when the Courts dealing [with] actions for infringement of trademarks, copyrights, patents etc. should not only grant compensatory damages but award punitive damages also with a view to discourage and dishearten law breakers who indulge in violations with impunity out of lust for money so that they realize that in case they are caught, they would be liable not only to reimburse the aggrieved party but would be liable to pay punitive damages also, which may spell financial disaster for them”.
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Omesh Puri is an associate partner and Abhigyan Ashok is an associate at LexOrbis.
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