The Supreme Court today admitted the petition of Force Motors (formerly Bajaj Tempo) against Bajaj Auto for opposing the change in its name and discontinuation of 'Tempo' brand from its commercial vehicles.
A bench of Justice D K Jain and Justice A K Ganguly admitted the petition of Force Motors and decided to hear its plea expeditiously.
Force Motors and Bajaj Auto have locked their horns over the brand 'Tempo' for its commercial vehicles.
Bajaj Tempo had decided to change its name to Force Auto and not use the word 'Tempo' in its commercial vehicles after global automobile giant DaimlerChrysler, which owns the Tempo brand, sold its stake in the joint venture.
However, this was opposed by Bajaj Auto, which holds 16.23% stake in the company.
Earlier on February 25 this year, the apex court issued notices to Bajaj Auto and German auto major Daimler AG in this matter, directing them to file their replies within six weeks.
Earlier in this matter, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had on February 11, 2005 held that 'Tempo' was the registered Trade Mark of Daimler and directed Force Motors to change its name as per the procedure under the Companies Act within three months.
Following this, Force Motors called an Extra Ordinary General Meeting on April 5, 2005. However, Bajaj Auto raised objection and a poll was conducted. In the poll, 69.44% of votes favored the name change and 30.56% opposed the resolution.
On May 12, 2005, the company changed its name from Bajaj Tempo to Force Motors.
This was challenged by Rahul Bajaj firm before the high court, which set aside orders of Regional Director of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) that allowed the name change.
Following this, Force Motors moved the Supreme Court.
Alleging business rivalry, Forces Motors in its petition had submitted,"although Bajaj Auto filed the petition claiming it to be a shareholder, it was in substance and reality a mala-fide action to harm and prejudice the petitioner. Bajaj Auto is Force Motor's business rival and the parties have a long history of litigation," said Force Motors.
"Bajaj Auto has thus used the High Court's jurisdiction for its private agenda to harm Force Motors while professing to enforce its rights as shareholder of the Petitioner," it submitted before the apex court.