Trademark Applicants and IP attorneys in India are showing increasing concerns due to emerging news regarding massive abandonments of Trademark applications by the Indian Trademarks Registry – mostly, at least according to the applicants, without cause.
More than 160,000 trademark applications deemed abandoned
For several years now, the Indian Trademarks Registry has been trying to clear up the backlog caused by increasing amounts of trademark applications and a system that failed to keep up with it. For this purpose, among other things, the Registry has been uploading to its website the examination reports of thousands of applications as well as sending the corresponding notification to the applicants or their representatives. Once they have received the reports, those same applicants or representatives have to file a response within 30 days, or the application will be deemed abandoned. So far, the system had seemed to be working.
However, in January 2016, the Registry uploaded to its website thousands of examination reports, for which the response had to be filed before the end of March at the latest, depending on the date of receipt of the notification.
Starting March 31st 2016, however, trademark applicants started receiving notice that their trademark had been abandoned – to their considerable surprise, since most of them profess never to have received notifications from the Registry in the first place. Similarly, others had received the notification and duly responded within the imparted timeframe – and yet their applications were still deemed abandoned.
The news might seem of little significance, if not for the staggering amount of applications concerned – upwards of 160,000 trademarks deemed abandoned in one month.
Is your trademark application in India safe?
Initially, a formal direction was issued by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks of India giving a chance to applicants to contest the abandonment before a deadline of April 30, 2016. However, a Delhi based association of IP professionals, considering that in view of the fact that most applicants had not even been notified of the abandonment the measure was clearly insufficient, appealed to the Delhi high court. This court, after an urgent hearing on April 5, 2016, issued a stay on those abandonment orders issued in March. A further hearing is planned in May.
Although the abandonment orders have now been suspended by order of the Delhi high court, if you have a pending trademark application in India, we strongly recommend that you check its status as soon as possible – better safe than sorry.
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Author: Victoire Bauvin Trademark Consultant @ iGERENT