The Immaculate Trade Mark Office and the mystery of the abandoned TM applications
In a follow up to the mass abandonment of trade mark applications the Sinapse Team was informed by a source that a group of lawyers in Mumbai had approached the Controller General of Patents Trademarks and Designs today, to convey their grievances regarding the mass abandonment of applications. However, the group was informed that the Controller was not available/accessible to discuss this (pressing) issue. Secondly, the lawyers were also instructed to nominate a representative from amongst them, who could speak to the Controller on their behalf.
Taking into consideration this extensive abandonment of applications and the circumstances surrounding it, it appears to us that the Trade Mark Office has resorted to such actions in order to meet certain internal targets and deadlines (this however remains unverified). And what better way to dispose of close to five lakh application (by one estimate) in one shot.
However, the Trade Mark Office is singing to a different tune. According to them, the applicants or the agents of such applicants were sufficiently notified as all examination reports for the abandoned marks were uploaded on the website and were dispatched to the applicants or their respective agents. To counter the first claim, in Paras Natural Spring Water Private Ltd v. Registrar of Trade Marks Delhi and Ors. the Court referring to publication/uploading of the Examination Report/letter on the website by the Trademarks Office stated that “Placing the notice of the website does not constitute compliance with that Rule 38(4) of the said Rules. The respondents have not indicated anything that obliged the petitioner to inspect the website on a daily basis. Nor did they indicate any rule or practice by which the petitioner was bound legally to take notice of anything that is posted on the respondents’ website. Rule 38(4) by itself does not require an applicant for registration to inspect the respondents’ website. The petitioner therefore cannot be imputed with the knowledge of the said letter dated 19.09.2011. The mere posting of the letter on the website does not constitute communication of the objection or proposal in writing as required by rule 38(4).”
On the second point, the only way the Trade Mark Office can convince the applicant/agents that all examination reports were actually sent out is by corroborating the claim with substantial evidence. It will be interesting to see what evidence will be produced by them as proof of dispatch, considering it is still unknown as to where these dispatched letter/examination reports have landed.
Furthermore, what puzzles us is how a government department, which has cried lack of man power time and again, was able to review, write and upload close to 5 lakh abandonment orders in a matter of days? Right before the close of the financial year to be specific. Adding this all uploaded abandonment orders are system generated, which can be interpreted to mean that they were not man made.