[Added Later: I forgot to hyperlink earlier to this post by Shamnad on whether a delay in the filing of a Power of Attorney prejudices patent/trademark applications or not. There’s a fascinating discussion between commentators in this regard, some of which may have to be re-assessed in view of this newest circular that has been issued.]
This tiny but crucial procedural circular relating to the submission of Power of Attorney documents issued way back in June appears to have missed the attention of the IPO website manager. It is the only office circular that is not be seen on the home page of the IPO website. My first question, of course, is why this is so? – Is it a deliberate strategic oversight? Or is it an inadvertent uploading/CMS error?
According to the circular, “Patent and Trademark applications may be accepted if the forwarding letter contains a request for filing the power of attorney within a period of one month.”
If you’re wondering, like some of my friends were, as to where this circular is hidden, I invite you to wander around the IPO website, and reach the Office Circulars page (Home Page >> Resources (left frame) >> Notice Board >> Officer Circulars), where you chance upon Circular No. 12, issued on 26 June, available as a download here.
The circular appears to have been prompted by the great deal “of doubt and confusion on the question of power of attorney to be attached to Patent and Trademark applications.” The IPO awaits a “clear cut” circular issued by the Controller General on the matter, until when the procedure mentioned here shall be followed.
There appears to be some concern over the stipulation of the one-month period for filing PoAs. In part, it imposes procedural limitations where none appear to exist, as neither the Acts nor the Rules (for patents and trademarks) explicitly specify time durations within which such documents have to be filed. Procedural practice appears to be that the documents are filed once they are received from clients.
A secondary concern appears to be the pressure such a regulation is going to create on applications filed on behalf, particularly, of international clients. Balancing the demands of establishing international standards in prosecution with the vagaries of traditional modes of communication is a tough act. Could the IPO have done better had it kept in mind such extrinsic challenges?
I say this not in criticism of the regulation, which I believe is a good thing, but in sympathy for applicants (and representatives of applicants), who may have to deal with circumstances beyond their control in submitting such documents, for whom some leniency may be appropriate.
Meanwhile, my concerns about the “Interactive Guidance” offered by the IPO for Patents and Trademarks appear to have gone unanswered. If the notes of the anonymous commentator on my previous post on this issue are to be believed, like so many others, I await to see if the CG will issue a circular on this too, soon.