Timelines for Hearings and Adjournments in Patent Proceedings
18 Jan 2023

The Indian Patent Office (IPO) recently issued a series of public notices informing stakeholders about a few procedural changes to streamline the oral hearing proceedings in patent cases with an intent to facilitate the expeditious disposal of long-pending applications. 

The Public Notice (the Notice) dated 17th January 2023, provides clarity on Rule 129 of the Indian Patents Act, which governs timelines for oral hearings and adjournments. The Notice clarifies that the IPO will provide a minimum of 10 ‘working’ days to a maximum of 30 ‘working’ days as a notice period for any oral hearing. The Notice further clarifies that only two adjournments, of no more than 30 days each, will be allowed. While considering a hearing adjournment request, the Controller can adjourn a hearing by a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of outstanding objections.
The Notice also clarifies that parties will be given a fair opportunity to defend in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and no adverse action would be taken solely on the basis of the Notice.

Another public notice, dated 16th January 2023, stresses the requirement of specifying a reasonable cause by an Applicant/Agent on behalf of the Applicant while filing a hearing adjournment request.
The Notice is issued as a clarification and rectification based on stakeholder inputs, following public notices in December 2022, that stated that all Controllers of Patents would follow the practice of giving only 10 days' notice before the date of hearing and that adjournments could be declined if reasonable cause is not duly supported by evidence.  
With the latest Notice, long pending applications are now likely to be disposed of faster given the staggered approach taken by the IPO to avoid further delay in proceedings in such matters.