In order to cope up with the Covid-19 situation, the Trademark registry of India had put a halt on accepting the Trademark registration applications since March.
The pandemic has hit the world indeed very hard, and in the light of the prevailing situation, the world has turned digital to tackle the ongoing pandemic.The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks has issued a Public Notice dated August 26, 2020, which stated that due to Pandemic and interpreting provisions given under Trademark Rules, 2017, Trademark hearings through video conferencing will be allowed.
Introduction of Trademark Hearings through Video Conferencing
The same goes for the Intellectual property sector, and the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks office in India had announced the show cause hearings to be held through video conferencing.
However, a condition has been imposed, and it is provided that only those matters (Pending for acceptance) will take place in which the consent of the applicants or their authorised agents has been obtained and they have approved of their candidature in trademark hearings through video conferencing to the Intellectual property office before 5th of September, 2020 to an Email address provided by the IP office for the specific purpose.
To confirm their consent for the virtual hearing, the participant or their attorney is required to submit his request on a specific Email Address with the subject “Consent for show-cause hearing through video conferencing”.
Official Notification by Trademark Registry
An official notice regarding
the same was posted on 26th of August, 2020.
It is mentioned in the notice published by the Intellectual Property office, India that the authorities will attempt to prepare a chart scheduling all the pre-accepted applications in accordance with the time slots available.
However, considering the number of pending applications that has been scheduled on a single day it is advised to reduce the number of the applications to be heard on a single day, as the high number of hearing on a single day may lead to unsatisfactory results.
A fair and sound hearing requires a reasonable amount of time. Meanwhile, the matters in which the consent have not been obtained, it is directed by the IP office to be kept in a state of temporary suspension till an appropriate period of time and to be taken into consideration as and when the situation improves and the physical hearings can be scheduled.
It is a much-appreciated effort that will assist in faster approval and rejection of the pre-accepted cases which was being anticipated since a long time.
Provisions of Trademark Hearing
The provisions of the trademark hearings through video conferencing has already been provided in the Trademark Rules, 2017, back when it was amended. A few matters concerning the trade marks were held over video conference in the past years. However, for some incomprehensible reason, the method of trademark hearings through video conferencing did not gain the deserving attention.
Considering the comfort level of the applicants, their attorneys as well as the judicial officers, physical hearing has always been preferred over the trademark hearings through video conferencing, but the situation has been drastically changed after the impact of the Covid-19.
In response to the Covid-19 situation, the trademark hearings and even several other issues concerning the intellectual properties are being addressed through video conferencing by the courts, Patent office and the intellectual property appellate board as the physical hearings are no longer advised.
In today’s world, it is necessary to function remotely, and the same is expected from the Trade Mark Registry, to work virtually so as to ease the operations and reducing the risk of infection. The virtual mode of functioning will facilitate seamless working and is being widely accepted all over the world.
Change in the Mind-set
A radical change has been witnessed in the mind-set of the Intellectual officers and the stakeholders who were resisting the Trademark hearings through Video conferencing six months ago. However it is now completely acceptable and the same people are getting habitual to the new life and embracing the technology.
Limitation of the Trademark Hearings through Video Conferencing
As each coin has two faces, same is applicable on the trademark hearings through Video conferencing. Hence, the trademark hearings through video conferencing also has certain limitations which act as a hindrance in its smooth functioning. The limitations are follows-
Slow Internet Connectivity Hinders the Video Conferencing
On one hand, the virtual hearings allow an applicant, their attorneys or the judicial officer to attend the hearings remotely. One can avoid the expense of travelling, and maintain their cool which is generally lost while waiting for the physical hearings. On the other, in order to offer smooth trademark hearings through video conferencing, the platform made for the purpose of the hearing must be well- designed to avoid the interruptions during the meetings. The internet connectivity plays a major role in the smooth conduct of virtual hearings.
Limit in the Size of Documents for Supporting Evidence
Another concern is, during a physical hearing, an attorney is always eligible to support their cause using additional documents in a hard copy format. However, in trademark hearings through video conferencing, the Trademark Registry has put a limit of 10 MB for the purpose of uploading documents.
With limitation in the size of uploading the documents the attorneys fall short of the space for uploading the evidence in majority of the cases. The size limit acts as a challenge to add supporting evidence. In regard to this limitation, it is advisable to the hearing platforms to have a feature of live – sharing the additional documents with the Hearing Officer to support their cause.
It has been said by the Indian Intellectual property office, that the authority has been attempting its level best to deploy technologically advanced features to improve its functioning.
With the outbreak of novel Corona Virus, the world has been turned upside down. The deadly virus compelled the world to go through some drastic changes. The adverse impact of corona virus has also been inflicted upon the judicial system of India and the authorities have come up with virtual hearings to tackle the situation.
The decision of the Controller general of Patents Designs and Trademarks office in India to conduct trademark hearings through video conferencing is a much appreciated and a welcoming step. The virtual hearings are expected to boost up and reduce the number of pending applications in the court.
Read our article: Everything you need to know about Trademark Search in India