DELHI HIGH COURT SUSPENDS OPERATION OF THE PUBLIC NOTICE DATED 04.05.2020 ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF CONTROLLER GENERAL OF PATENTS, DESIGNS, AND TRADE MARKS – Eshwars
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DELHI HIGH COURT SUSPENDS OPERATION OF THE PUBLIC NOTICE DATED 04.05.2020 ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF CONTROLLER GENERAL OF PATENTS, DESIGNS, AND TRADE MARKS

Authored by Aanchal M. Nichani

A writ petition was filed before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court by the Intellectual Property Attorneys Association (IPAA) against the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademark (CGPDTM) with respect to the public notice dated 04.05.2020 issued by the office of the CGPDTM in the backdrop of the nation-wide lockdown enforced by the Government of India owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The said notice stated that ‘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 during the lockdown period, shall be 18th May, 2020’.

The IPAA led by Senior Advocate C.M. Lall, had placed reliance on an order dated 23.03.2020 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein the Hon’ble Court had taken suo-moto cognizance of the challenges and difficulties likely to result from the on-going COVID-19 crisis and had ordered that the period of limitation in all proceedings before courts/tribunals, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or special law whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 until further orders. The said order was passed in exercise of the powers granted under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declared that the said order shall be binding on all courts/tribunals and authorities.

The Senior Counsel on behalf of IPAA argued that the public notice dated 04.05.2020 issued by the Office of CGPDTM is contrary to the order passed by the Supreme Court as the said order is clear with respect to general and special law whether condonable or not and that the same is binding upon the Office of the CGPDTM w.e.f from 15th March 2020. Further, it was also argued that the public notice that fixes the due date towards completion of various acts/proceedings, filings, payment of fees etc. as 18th May 2020 creates an onerous burden on the litigants as well as advocates and it was also further contended that the Office of CGPDTM has not taken into account the difficulty that the litigants and advocates would be faced with in order to ensure all filings that were due between 15th March 2020 until 17th May 2020 to be done on 18th May 2020.

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court acknowledged, observed and held that the order passed by the Supreme Court is binding on all courts/tribunals under Article 144 of the Constitution of India and thus, no authority/court/tribunal can act contrary to the said order. Further, it was also held that the extension of limitation commences from 15th March 2020 and not 23rd March 2020. Further, Hon’ble Delhi High Court also agreed with the contention of IPAA that the due date of 18th May 2020 to complete all acts/filings that were initially due between 15th March 2020 and 17th May 2020 is an extremely short window and deadline.

In light of the above, the Hon’ble Court was pleased to suspend the operation of the public notice dated 04.05.2020 and also directed the Office of CGPDTM to act in accordance with the order dated 23.03.2020 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and thus, disposed the subject writ petition.

The aforesaid order of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi comes as a much-needed respite to all litigants and advocates in the IP fraternity who may be potentially affected by notice of the Office of CGPDTM wherein it would have been a herculean task to mobilise efforts, files, documentation and resources to be able to ensure all acts/filings are done by 18th May 2020.

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