On 4th March, 2022 the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks (O/o CGPDTM) issued Guidelines for Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities to facilitate accessibility and reasonable accommodations for Persons with Disabilities practicing and interacting with IP Offices under O/o CGPDTM with an endeavor to take all possible steps to make its website, facilities, documents, services, systems and processes accessible to every person.
The O/o CGPDTM has appointed a nodal officer (disability) to address needs of attorneys, agents and others with disabilities in respect of accessibility and reasonable accommodations. While acknowledging that several aspects of ICT, the website, online systems, services and facilities may not be fully accessible to all person with disabilities the O/o CGPDTM assured to the take the following steps towards accessibility and reasonable accommodations. They shall,
- Install screen readers, audio speakers and braille printers at appropriate locations that can be accessed on request;
- Take necessary steps to coordinate with the concerned Controller/Registrar/Examiner on receipt of an email by any person with disability outlining the accessibility issue and seeking assistance by clearly mentioning the name of the Controller/Registrar/Examiner before whom the said person is representing his/her matter;
- Ensure that the documents required with respect to a particular file/application or proceedings before the IP Offices are accessible to Patent and Trademark Agents with disabilities through screen readers, audio speakers and braille printers;
- Allow the disability certificate to be incorporated in the Patent and Trademark Agent Registers of Persons with Disabilities which will enable the presiding officers to get a prior intimation about the persons appearing before them and make necessary arrangements accordingly;
- Provide requisite reasonable accommodation in consultation with the concerned Controller/Registrar/Examiner on receipt of a request for accommodation in advance;
- Discuss the specific requirement with the person with disability and also with the concerned Controller/Registrar/Examiner before arriving at a conclusion on the most appropriate accommodation, as different persons with disability may require different accommodations. If the accommodation cannot be provided the nodal officer (disability) shall inform the person with disability alongwith reasons within 10 working days;
- Provide sufficient time to a person with disability, on request, to convert documents into accessible formats;
- Provide adjournments and extension of time for a maximum up to 14 days wherever necessary in consultation with the concerned Controller/Registrar/Examiner; and
- Not reject any request for reasonable accommodations, and if any accommodation is denied, the officer shall provide reasons for such denial. If any grievance is not resolved by the nodal officer (disability) within 10 working days the person with disability may send the grievance to O/o CGPDTM.
We appreciate the O/o CGPDTM for taking these long awaited steps, within few months of the Delhi High Court incorporating rules regarding accessibility and reasonable accommodations in the IPD Rules. Persons with disabilities can now practice before the IP Office and the IPD by getting all necessary and reasonable accommodations if the Indian IP Office implements them in letter and spirit.
We thank the Indian IP Office for this much needed initiative to facilitate and enable practice of IP Laws by Persons with Disabilities.
You may read the guidelines and find the contact details of the nodal officer (disability) here.
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