On March 25, 2020, we had informed that, taking notice of the COVID-19 situation, the Supreme Court of India (SC) had passed an order extending the period of limitation, whether or not condonable under law, for filing of petitions/applications/suits/appeals/all other proceedings in all courts, tribunals and authorities across the country, with effect from March 15, 2020 till further orders. At that time, the Indian Intellectual Property Office (“the IPO”) had not issued a confirmation whether the SC’s order would apply to statutory deadlines and other deadlines, though this was the popular opinion of the IP fraternity.
As you know, we have been regularly updating you of the extensions to the various deadlines owing to the Covid-19 lockdown as notified by the IPO on the last three occasions (here, here and here). The last of such notifications was issued by the IPO on May 04, 2020, when it extended all deadlines to May 18, 2020 through a Public Notice (“the Notice”).
However, in an important order passed by the Delhi High Court (“the DHC”) on May 11, 2020 in a constitutional writ filed by the Intellectual Property Attorneys Association (IPAA), the operation of the Notice has been suspended as it was contrary to the SC’s order. The Court agreed with IPAA that the short deadline of May 18, 2020 in the Notice imposed an onerous burden both on the litigants and the lawyers, given that the lockdown will remain in force till May 17, 2020. The Court also agreed that, the triggering of the period of limitation under general and special laws, whether or not condonable, is to start from March 15, 2020 as stated in the SC’s order and not March 23, 2020 as was stated in the Notice.
Accordingly, the limitation period, deadlines for completion of various acts, proceedings, filings, payment of fees, etc., in the matters pending before the IPO would stand extended till further orders from the SC. We will update you if the IPO issues any clarificatory notices in this regard.
However, please note that since the IP Office continues to function with staggered attendance of officials and fully operational electronic filing, we recommend that wherever possible, you may continue to comply with the usual deadlines in all matters. In cases where an applicant is unable to comply with a particular deadline, we can rely on the SC and the DHC Orders to seek necessary extension.