Update on Madras High Court’s Intellectual Property Division

Chapter 19 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970, prescribed that all appeals against the decisions of the Controller of the Indian Patent Office should be heard by the Intellectual Property Appeal Board (IPAB). Due to the Board’s poor functioning, the Government of India abolished the IPAB under the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, on April 4, 2021, and directed that all appeals pending and forthcoming shall now be dealt with by the High Courts in India.

In response, the Delhi High Court created its Intellectual Property Division (IPD) to handle original and appellate proceedings, including writ petitions, on July 7, 2021. On October 1, 2021, the IPD released The Delhi High Court Intellectual Property Division Rules, 2021 (DHC-IPD Rules, 2021). Although the Tribunal Reforms Act prescribes the creation of IP Divisions within the High Courts of a jurisdiction, other than the Delhi High Court, no other High Court has formulated its IP Division as of this date.

Recently, M/s. Galatea Limited filed a collection of writs of mandamus [W.P.Nos.4122, 4124 and 4129 of 2023] in the Madras High Court, directing the State Government to frame and implement appropriate rules to transfer pending cases from the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board, Chennai to the Madras High Court.

The Madras High Court had not only constituted an Intellectual Property Committee but also framed draft Madras High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, which were approved by the Full Court on July 7, 2022. Accordingly, the Registry addressed the State Government for issuing a notification on 26.10.2022. The first respondent, Registrar General of Madras High Court responded that the Registry is awaiting notification from the State Government and that the Registry is prepared to inaugurate the Intellectual Property Division within a week from the date of such notification by the Government.

The Court observed that the delay in issuing notification by the State Government is leaving the aggrieved persons in a lurch. Despite the availability of a remedy before the Madras High Court, they are unable to pursue their remedy in the absence of the notification. The Court stated that it does not find any justification on the part of the State Government for not issuing such notification expeditiously. Therefore, the Court granted a week’s time to the State Government to issue notification for the inauguration of the Intellectual Property Division.

The matter is directed to be listed on 22.02.2023, for reporting compliance. The creation of an IP Division in High Courts besides Delhi has been long-awaited, not only by the aggrieved parties but also by patent attorneys in India. Given the strong observations and equally stringent directions by the Madras High Court to the State Government, it is expected that a notification regarding the IP Division of Madras High Court shall be issued soon, possibly accompanied by Rules for the IP Division.

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