Countless intangible assets arose in the twenty-first century as a result of increased research and innovation throughout India, and with the increase in innovation came intellectual property issues. Now, having more intangible assets to harness for revenue generation was fantastic for a growing nation, but the increase in conflicts put a strain on already overloaded courts. The necessity for a distinct appeal board dedicated solely to intellectual property concerns developed, prompting the establishment of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in October 2004. The goal of this appellate body was to create a simple process for rapidly disposing of the intellectual property cases. Following weeks of anticipation, the Delhi High Court finally proposed the formation of the IP division in a media statement headlined ‘Creation of Intellectual Property Division in the Delhi High Court’ in terms of addressing the mounting burden of IP matters.
The Indian government, by using the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance, 2021, abolished the appellant board on 4th April, alleging incompetence. The fundamental aim for the founding of this appellant board was to provide faster justice and to reduce reliance on the High Courts. However, the panel failed because it had multiple cases outstanding and was experiencing staffing issues. Most of the ongoing IPAB matters were then forwarded to the high courts as a result of this ordinance. The Delhi High Court suggested the construction of a new intellectual property division as a result of all this.
Objectives of the IP Division
- The major goal is to establish a section inside the Delhi High Court to accelerate the resolution of issues involving intellectual property rights.
- The Delhi High Court is working on the legislation and requirements of the newly formed IP rights appellant body.
- The Honorable Delhi High Court’s Intellectual Division Of property would have been in charge of sanctioning all the disputes relating to intellectual property rights including the following:
- Intellectual property disputes
- Writ petitions
- Revocation and cancellation of applications
- Regular First Appeals
- First Appeal from Order
- Fresh intellectual property rights filing
- Original proceedings and Appellate proceedings etc.
How will it Impact the IP Cases in India
1) The changed framework for resolving the intellectual property disputes will indeed lead to more effective and uniform IP redressal, and other high courts will gradually fall in the line. Because the IPAB’s majority of cases had been appealed before the Delhi high court, they have had the vital capacity to deal with the intellectual property conflicts. With the adaptation of similar patterns by the other high courts, specialized systems will emerge within the justice system that will have the knowledge and experience in IP rights issue, because they would perhaps create something similar to the “High Court of Delhi rules governing patent suits, 2020” that would guide them as it would do in the Delhi High Court case.
2) Judges with technical understanding and prior experience with intellectual property concerns will take a concentrated approach. As a result, the judgments will be more simplified, reliable, and foreseeable. For example, there have been occasions in the past where two judges debating the very same evidence and laws employed distinct thinking patterns or reasoning and came to different judgments on the same issue, resulting in greater uncertainty. This new method would clear up any misunderstandings and give multiple avenues for resolving intellectual property conflicts.
3) Because high courts are naturally more valuable than some other bodies, transforming the property rights appellant board into an auxiliary of the Delhi High Court will dramatically boost the value of intellectual property throughout India. The extended branch of a high court’s rulings will undoubtedly have an advantage and greater relevance as standards in the future, as well as the trustworthiness of those judgments, will improve enormously due to the technical skill of the judges.
Challenges to the IP Division
While IP cases are constantly being updated and relocated to the IPD, there is currently inadequate advice on how to handle them. There will be various problems in managing and running the IPD. The main obstacle that is expected is an increase in the backlog cases. The load is expected to soar once the relocated IPAB cases are merged with the present backlog of IP cases in the Delhi High Court. The IPAB had roughly 4000 matters outstanding, according to the news release announcing the IPD’s creation, which would now be transferred to the High Courts. Roughly 2600 civil claims are pending at the Delhi High Court, according to the most recent statistics on civil proceedings. The number of occurrences before the Delhi High Court’s Commercial Division is expected to triple if writ petitions are included. Furthermore, COVID-19 resulted in widespread deprioritization of cases, and the IPAB was abolished without any guidance on care coordination, delivery of papers, legislative deadlines, filing of pleadings, and so on. These problems must be encapsulated in the IPD Rules, as well as continuous efforts to address them.
A solution to the above-mentioned Problems
Because of the large number of appeals pending before the IPAB, several petitioners may also have stopped being interested in their cases entirely. For the first step, the petitioners can be questioned if they’ll be interested in pursuing the concerns that are now before the IPAB. For every complaint that has been outstanding at the IPAB for more than one year, a set of deadlines for completing pleadings shall be established. Likewise, postponements should be avoided, and more than one adjournment in a single subject should only be permitted in extreme circumstances. It is necessary to guarantee that the appropriate IP office or authority is represented. Judges’ terms could potentially be extended to enable them to develop subject matter competence and make consistent rulings.
There is indeed a great deal of discussion about this subject amongst professionals and IP enthusiasts, but rather than completely shutting down the quasi-judicial organization, it would’ve been wiser to relocate such matters gradually after putting in place a proper system and contacting every one of the applicants involved. That would have resulted in fewer administrative compliances because petitioners whose applications had been pending before 2018 would now have to wait months or even years for their compliances to be completed. Massive delays were a big factor in the IPAB’s demise, but now that it has been transferred to the High Court, it may result in even longer delays, defeating the aim of the current high court judgment. IP holders would face difficulties as a result of this, because there may be a scarcity of time to exercise their IP rights. There may be extra expenses associated with litigating in the High Courts.
Author(s) Name: Anuj Chhabra (Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala)
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