Justice Prabha Sridevan, Chairperson of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (“IPAB”), was interviewed by ‘Managing Intellectual Property’ [available here]. She made quite a few pertinent remarks on the functioning of IPAB, role of litigants in the system, her post-retirement plans etc. She rightly observed in the interview that the tribunal has started drawing greater international attention.
She exhorted the lawyers to approach IPAB in a different manner viz., by putting the cap of an IP practitioner and not by wearing the civil litigation cap. While a normal civil suit entails examination and cross-examination, an appeal to IPAB is decided mostly on affidavits rather than on witness testimony.
She remarked that the appeals settled by IPAB have set the ground for the future of intellectual property law. She drew attention to the absence of adequate infrastructure for the proper functioning of IPAB. As the IPAB is based in Chennai, the team along with the staff is required to travel extensively. In this regard, she suggested certain alternatives such as setting up video courts and permanent benches in circuit cities. She, however, remarked that she is not empowered to take decisions on the aforesaid proposed changes. [We had earlier blogged on her report on infrastructure and resources made available to IPAB [available here.]]
She emphasised on the need to sensitise the craftsmen and artisans about the significance of GIs. The overall goal of IPAB is to balance the interests of rights holders and the larger society. On a lighter note, she also talked about her post-retirement plans. She expressed her desire to continue writing on social issues. [She wrote on death penalty in ‘The Hindu’ [available here]. In her article (which is well written and articulated), she inter alia drew attention to the legal errors committed in awarding death sentences.]
4 thoughts on “‘A lawyer appearing before IPAB should wear the cap of an IP Practitioner’”
I have high regards for Justice Prabha Sridevan. However, I do not agree with her when you say in your blog that “She exhorted the lawyers to approach IPAB in a different manner viz., by putting the cap of an IP practitioner and not by wearing the civil litigation cap.” A lawyer is a Lawyer and is expected to wear the dress of a lawyer. If what she says is right then the lawyers appearing in different forums would be expected to wear the caps of forums, say for example CAT, Consumer Courts, Tax Tribunals etc. etc. The function of a lawyer is not only to examine and cross examine the witnesses.
The IPAB lacks infrastructure is right and sad. The establishment of permanent benches in circuit cities is a good suggestion/alternative.
I disagree with you. I believe that a lawyer has to tune himself to the forum before which he appears. For instance, the ‘tricks of the trade’ in SC differ from that of the lower courts. The requisite approach will vary from one Court to another. Further, from a practical perspective, this statement re-affirms the Realist School of Thought.
I was slightly puzzled by one statement in your post. You say “While a normal civil suit entails examination and cross-examination, an appeal to IPAB is decided mostly on affidavits rather than on witness testimony.”
(1) Do you think general rules of evidence and procedure (not specifically as stated under the statute, but as principles of law) apply to the IPAB. If yes, then why is cross-examination of witnesses not permissible? If no, why not?
(2) Don’t you think that a specialized body such as the IPAB can vastly benefit from experts being cross examined? I am specifically referring to complex cases of patent revocation which involve a great deal of scientific intricacy.
You raised some valid points. I was only quoting Justice Prabha Sridevan here.
As you can make out from the interview, she did not rule out examinations/cross-examinations in IPAB proceedings. From what I understand, she made a general statement. Considering the significance of documents in IPAB proceedings, she wanted the lawyers to keep a tight schedule in filing them.