On February 10, 2021, during the recent budget session, the Central Government introduced “The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021” (“the Bill”) in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament).
The Bill aims to abolish certain Tribunals and authorities and provide a mechanism for filing appeals directly before the High Courts. The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) is one of the four Tribunals which is proposed to be abolished.
While abolishing the IPAB, the Bill proposes to amend the Trade Marks Act, 1999, The Copyright Act, 1957, The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, The Patents Act, 1970 and The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. The key amendments, as proposed, are as follows:
• All cases pending before such Tribunals will be transferred to the concerned High Court. With regard to certain matters pertaining to the Copyright Act, like disputes over validity of assignment, compulsory licensing, etc., the Bill proposes transfer of these matters to a Commercial Court;
• All appeals from the orders of the Registrar / Controller (of Trade Marks, Geographical Indications, Copyright, Patents and Plant Varieties) will lie directly before the concerned High Court; and
• All rectifications and cancellation proceedings vis-a-vis Trade Marks, Geographical Indications, Patents and Plant Varieties can be filed before either the Registrar of Trademarks/ GIs or Controller of Patents as the case may be or before the concerned High Court. Rectification and cancellation proceedings pertaining to Copyright can be filed before the concerned High Court.
The Bill is likely to be passed by both the houses of the Parliament, namely the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament), once the Parliament reconvenes after recess on March 08, 2021.
IP associations in India and other stake holders are discussing the ramifications of the Bill. We are closely monitoring these developments and will keep you updated.