London High Court awards damages against an Indian law firm for professional negligence in patent prosecution

In a recent development, first reported by Kian Ganz of Legally India, the London High Court has reportedly entered a default judgment of £100,000 against Fox Mandal in a lawsuit filed by one of its former clients, Lawrence Karat, alleging professional negligence in a patent prosecution being handled by the law firm. The Legally India story can be read over here
According to the Legally India report: 
Karat claimed that Fox could not retrieve his case files and a power of attorney was misplaced. A new power of attorney was executed by Karat but was allegedly notarised by Fox in India without Karat physically present, which in his view was illegal.

Furthermore, a “proof of right” deadline was missed in the Mumbai patent office, which could lead to a dismissal of the patent, according to Karat. 
Apparently Fox Mandal did not put in an appearance before the London court, as a result of which the court entered a default judgement. 
It doesn’t give us any pleasure in having to carry this news on the blog but the truth of the matter is that we’ve heard of several cases of missed deadlines in other patent prosecutions and unless IP law firms adopt better docket management techniques we will be hearing of more such law suits.
The case also raises the issue of professional standards and a regulatory body for patent agents in India. Currently there is no procedure to complain against patent agents for possible malpractice. Perhaps the government should propose a mechanism to regulate patent agents. 

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5 thoughts on “London High Court awards damages against an Indian law firm for professional negligence in patent prosecution”

  1. Late filing of Proof of right shouldnot be lethal to the Patent. If more details are produced, such order of the patent office can be reviewed and in the interest of natural justice, delay may be condoned. But if all facts are bring into light, all collectively can approach the IPO.

  2. Why late when you are being paid? And paid handsomely!
    This should be introduced in normal Civil legal proceedings in India also. Why clients should suffer because of delays on part of their advocates? These are most of the times money minting tactics by the lawyers. I have due respect for the profession, but the system is kaput at the lower levels.

  3. This simply looks like business gone wrong.
    Why is a Hong Kong based company with a London based owner seeking services of an Indian law firm, suing the law firm in London?
    It is easy to preach about docket management techniques and really difficult to practice in real scenarios. Agreed that a lapse is dangerous. However, proof of right delay will not kill the patent!

    The patent application in question seems to be: 1033/MUMNP/2007
    The applicant has switched between 3 different agents over 6 years. Is this suspicious?
    Generally applicants are reluctant to shift to a different agent as transfer of context and case history is tricky and difficult. Why 3 agents here?

  4. Zia Mody is a cardinal legal consultant and also an important member of Bahai Faith in India. She is refer as to control over securities law and corporate merger.

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