En Masse Abandonment of Trade Mark Applications by the Indian Trade Mark Office
It has been brought to the notice of SiNApSE Team that numerous trade mark applications have been abandoned by the Indian Trade Mark Office in one shot. One person estimates the number to be more than 1.5 lakh applications. The reason as stated by one source is that the trade mark applications are showing as abandoned because examination responses were not filed on time.
One lawyer reports that the Trade Mark officials are claiming that all examination reports, which have been uploaded online, for which responses have not been filed have been abandoned because of non-compliance. As per Section 18(4) of Trade Marks Act, 1999 and Rule 38 of the Trade Mark Rules the Trade Mark Office is required to communicate the examination reports to the applicant or his attorney in writing. As a standard practice, the Trade Mark Office sends examination reports by mail or email. The Trade Mark Office now seems to be claiming that online publication amounts to such communication in writing. But, the Trade Mark Office’s website disclaimer indicates that the information on its website may not be accurate. Even assuming that all information is accurate, it would be a stretch to argue that publication on a portal amounts to communication in writing as required under the law.
SiNApSE Team performed a review on the portal and noticed that several applications are displayed as abandoned. Many of them do not have orders associated with the status. On its face, the reason for the abandonment seems to be a technical or system error, rather than a conscious measure. It seems that a machine has abandoned several applications in one shot. Some applications infact went from objected to abandoned within minutes.
Trade mark attorneys are disappointed with Trade Mark Office’s seemingly arbitrary and wrongful action. They are contemplating on appropriate legal actions ranging from PILs and writs to petitions and RTIs, to address the issue. The mass abandonment has surely caused a stir among trade mark attorneys. If this is an error, it surely is a grave error, and will reflect very badly on the IP Office’s capabilities. As such issues prop up, one cannot help but wonder if our IP Office is going through a very rough phase at the moment.