SpicyIP Tidbit: Indian Patent Office Comes Up with Revisions Fixing Durations of Adjournments Among Other Things

The pendency of oppositions and applications before the Indian Patent Office is an issue about which we have written extensively in the past (see here, here and here). Unclear timelines to adjudicate on, multiple adjournments by the parties contribute immensely in the soaring number of pending patent applications. (indicatively see here for Namratha’s post on DHC order repudiating a party for seeking repeated adjournments and not filing the written statements timely.) In order to improve the situation, the Indian Patent Office has come up with a set of public notices which aim to bring reform in patent application processing. These 3 notices concern- ensuring that only authentic representatives represent the parties (notice 1); And reforming the liberty to seek adjournment against hearings (notice no. (s) 2 and 3). 

On adjournments, the relevant notice no. 2 restricts the number of adjournments of the hearing to 2 and has advised that each adjournment should be limited to 10 days, despite Rule 129A prescribing for an upper limit of 30 days. Apart from this, notice no. 3 highlights that many times, the parties do not mention the ‘reasonable cause’ for seeking an adjournment, which is prescribed under Rule 129A, and to counter this situation, it that “….requests for adjournment under rule 129A of the Patents Rules, whereby the ‘reasonable cause’ for seeking extension is not mentioned, will not be entertained.” 

Apart from fixing the number of permissible adjournments of hearings, notice no.2  also curb the gap between the notice of hearing and the actual hearing to 10 days instead of the practice of giving 4 weeks. The concerned notice specifically mentions that this was done “keeping in view the public interest involved in timely disposal of long pending applications/matters and also the benefits of Patent rights conferred upon the applicants…” 

While these notices are surely a whiff of fresh breeze and will assist in expeditiously processing the pending applications, it is interesting to note that these reforms and clarifications were already a part of the concerned rules. For eg. scheduling the hearing within 10 days after the intimidation notice was already a part of Rule 129 (this is remarked in the notice too). Regardless, better late than never, hopefully, this time these strict clarifications/ instructions will be paid heed to. What do you think will the impact of these directives be? Do let us know in the comments. 

The relevant notices can be accessed here (notice no.1); here (notice no. 2); and here (notice no. 3). 

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