Impact Of Covid-19 On Intellectual Property Matters In India

COVID-19 has created a critical situation for the global economy and business. India is also not an exception to the crisis, which is arising from economic, health, and business crises. In order to minimize the spread of novel Coronavirus, the Government of India, various State Governments Bodies, and Judicial Authorities are stepping in and are recommending important regulatory guidelines/ measures.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced COVID-19 as a pandemic, issued advisories, and many notices in order to control the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and thereafter, many government organizations and bodies have also dispatched advisories and notices in an order to control spread the virus. The different Constitutional Courts and statutory bodies linked to Intellectual Property laws in India have declared many relief measures for the stakeholders. In this direction, the Controller General of Patent, Design, and Trademarks has also taken many important steps. The Indian Patent Office (IPO) and trademark registry have issued many important public notices in light of the COVID 19. Many public notices have been launched by the Intellectual property organization, Indian patent office, trademark registry, and Copyright office over the last few days in relation to adjournment, cancellation of all hearings, and extension of due dates. These public notices are as under:

Public Notice dispatched by Trade Marks Registry

1) March 16th: Hearings Adjourned till April 15, 2020

Based on the advisory issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, the Indian trademark registry has issued a public notice on March 16, 2020 regarding adjournment of hearing falling between March 17, 2020, to April 15, 2020, related to all trademark matters. All these hearing would be rescheduled after April 15, 2020. However, all other trademark hearing after 15, 2020 will remain on time.

2) March 23rd: Filing of documents at Trademark Registry:

The Controller General of Patent & Trademarks has issued a public notice on March 23, 2020, which relates to filing/ submission of documents at the Indian trademark registry. The public notice reveals that:

  1. As per Section 131 of trademark act and trademark rules 109 & 110, the Applicant can file a request for extension regarding submission of all documents once the situation becomes normal
  2. Such a request relating to the extension of time will be only considered by the trademark Registrar as per the trademark act.

Public Notice issued by the Copyright office

The Registrar of Copyrights has declared that all hearings related to Copyright matters falling between March 17th, 2020, and March 31st, 2020, would be adjourned and will be rescheduled later.

Public Notice dispatched by the Patent Office

1) March 19th: Patent Hearings

  1. As per advisory launched by the Ministry of health, all the patent hearing (in person) related to Patents and Designs matters would be converted to Video Conferencing (VC) mode which was scheduled on or before April 15, 2020. Further, in the case where the applicant would be not able to attend the VC hearing, the hearing may be adjourned for a date later than April 15, 2020. It also discloses clearly that, hearings scheduled post-April 15, 2020 shall remain unchanged.
  2. The Indian patent office further declares that any delay in transmitting or resubmitting documents would be condoned under the Patents Act, 1970 or the timeline would be extended only on applying by a petition for such condonation of delay or extension. Such extension of time should not be later than one month from the date when the COVID19 outbreak ceased to exist as per sub-rule (6) of rule 6 of the patent rules.
  3. Such necessary directions issued by CGTDM has been circulated to all branch offices related to all patent matters

2)  March 25th: Updated notice for Patent matters

The IPO has issued public notice on 25th march, 2020 which reveals that:

All Video Conference hearings falling between 23rd March 2020 and 14th April 2020 stands cancelled as per advisory issued by ministry of health and lockdown situation prevailing in the country. Later on, the next dates of rescheduled hearings will be communicated.

3) 25thMarch: Updated notice for IP matters issued by CGPDTM

Extension of Timelines related to Patent, Designs, Trademark, and Geographical Indication matter. All the patent Offices, design offices, trademark registry, copyright office, and GI offices along with all branch offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chennai which are under the administrative control of Office of CGPDTM, i.e. will remain shut down for 21 days i.e. effective from March 25, 2020, i.e. until April 14, 2020.

All the due dates, timelines/periods related to all IP matters administered by the Office of CGPDTM in regards to completion of various acts/activities, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etc. shall be the date on which the Office will resume functional.

4) May 4th: Updated notice for IP matters issued by CGPDTM

Considering the fact that all the IP offices in India are located in Red Zones (Hotspots), the due dates, with respect to timelines/periods prescribed under the IP Acts and Rules administered by the O/o CGPDTM towards completion of various acts/proceedings, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etc. in the matters of any IP applications filed with the offices under the administrative control of O/o CGPDTM, falling due between the above said lockdown period, shall be 18th May, 2020.

Extension in Physical Filings:

The Sue Motu Cognizance of difficulties because of COVID-19 was taken by the Supreme Court of India on March 23, 2020.The Court issued a notice that the lawyers/litigants do not need to come physically to file such documents:

The Hon’ble Court declared that the duration in filing petitions, applications, suits, appeals, and all other proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not, will be extended effective from March 15, 2020.

This order would be binding on all Courts, Tribunals and statuary bodies/ authorities

Extension of Stay Orders:

Under the effect of Suo Moto cognizance because of COVID-19 outbreak, the Delhi High Court passed an order dated March 25, 2020, stating that

  1. In all pending matters in front of before Delhi High Court as well as subordinate courts, wherein interim orders were subsisting as on March 16, 2020, and expired or will expire thereafter, would be now extended till May 15, 2020, depending on next order.
  2. The party would be at freedom to seek appropriate relief in case the above-mentioned extension to the interim order causes any hardship of an extreme nature to any party.

 

The Article Contributed by Mr. Amit Goel Director of Effectual Services Advisory firm that offers IP support solutions to Fortune 500 companies

Mr. Amit Goel

The Article Contributed by Mr. Amit Goel, Director of Effectual Services- Advisory firm that offers IP support solutions to Fortune 500 companies.

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