Author: Former Intern - Harsh Agrawal
The 161st Parliamentary Report on “Review of the Intellectual Property Right Regime in India” recommended curtailing the time period of advertisement of a trademark application from 4 to 2 months. The author believes that a shorter advertisement period will facilitate more trademark filings.
Being a nation with a significant working population and its current standing among many countries to file a large number of trademark applications annually, India might have to ensure quick and prompt prosecution of applications through to registration. While theoretically, an application can, in the absence of objections and oppositions, attain registration within a timeframe of 7-10 months, this timeframe practically often serves as the minimum period for an application to proceed to publication in the Trade Marks Journal.
Contentious proceedings (such as oppositions) are lengthy and take a minimum of 18-24 months for their final disposal, adding another point for delay in prosecution and the subsequent issuance of a registration certificate. The entire proceeding entails the stages of submission of pleadings, evidence and scheduling of hearings before the TM Office. Delay in service of pleadings, evidence and hearing notices contributes to further delay in the proceedings and consequently, registration of the application.
While each stage in trademark prosecution is important to ensure proper scrutiny, transparency, and justice to the parties, reducing the timeline for advertisement could serve as the first step in expedited prosecution of an application. It could also encourage proprietors to secure formal protection of their brands on the guarantee that the process will be time-bound. Start-ups would also be encouraged to protect their trademarks at their inception without worrying about the long timeframes and non-routine costs associated with requesting expedited processing. The author believes that the resultant increase in trademark filings would also have the added benefit of increased revenue for the TM Office.
Given the TM Office’s current schedule of publishing Trade Marks Journals on a weekly basis, interested parties can conduct their due diligence and monitor potentially conflicting marks within the 2 months and pursue an opposition against such concerning applications. In this regard, a 2-month period would also suffice as opposed to the current 4-month period which adds a degree of laxity to the process. The 2-month model has proved successful in several jurisdictions including in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Japan, among others, and the author believes it could also be fruitful in India.
Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.
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