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Delhi HC directs Trademark Registry to devise proper mechanism for holding hearings

April 12, 2022

By Ananyaa Banerjee and Bhanu Dhingra

In a recent intrinsic order passed by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Pawandeep Singh vs The Registrar Of Trademarks & Anr.[1], the High Court held that the application of the Petitioner in the case had been wrongly refused as refusal of a trade mark without even affording an opportunity of hearing would be contrary to the fundamental tenets of natural justice.

Brief facts of the case

The Petitioner approached the Delhi High Court aggrieved from the refusal of registration of his trademark “SWISS” in Class-17. The Petitioner alleged that he was not provided with an opportunity to be heard as he was given two hearings wherein, the official concerned did not login at both instances and hence he was denied the opportunity of being heard. The Petitioner also contended that his counsel also sent notices to the Registrar of Trademarks, however no response was received and instead a refusal order dated January 25, 2022 was issued against his trademark.

The impugned order passed by the Registrar of Trademarks stated that the petitioner was heard and thereafter the application for registration was rejected. However, it was duly admitted by the Respondent’s counsel that the Petitioner was not heard and the order was contrary to the actual facts.

Court’s order and observation

In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court held that the application of the petitioner had been wrongly refused as refusal of a trade mark without even affording an opportunity of hearing would be contrary to the fundamental tenets of natural justice.

It was further noted by the Court that the permission of only three people at a time in a virtual conference was grossly insufficient and an outdated mode of conducting hearings. Further, it was held that there existed a requirement to alter the current mode by bringing in more transparency.

Delhi HC directs devising of a proper mechanism for holding hearings

Considering the gravity of the nature of the present case and the importance of following the principles of natural justice while adjudicating a case, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court directed the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) to devise a proper mechanism for holding hearings by including the following features:

  • Publication of daily cause list with serial numbers of the applications, preferably with morning and afternoon slots, as per requirement.
  • Utilisation of a platform with open link so that more people can join hearings.
  • Matters to be called serial number wise so that applicants do not face inconvenience by waiting in the waiting room.
  • Removal of templates from order which vary from case to case (for instance, “hearing took place before me”).
  • Putting extra space in the Order for Senior Examiners to record reasons for allowing or refusing an application.

The Court ordered for the placement of the proposal featuring the above point on record within two weeks and also allowed for the consultancy of the IP fraternity inclusive of but not limited to Associations like the Intellectual Property Attorney’s Association (IPAA), and the Asian Patent Attorney Association (APAA), International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), International Trademark Mark Association (INTA), or any other stakeholders, as per requirement.

The Court also set aside the impugned order dated January 25, 2022 and remanded the matter to the Trade Marks Registrar and also directed that a proper hearing has to be given to the Petitioner and orders shall be passed accordingly.

[1] W.P.(C)-IPD 7/2022 & CM 30/2022

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