In a welcome first, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board has published its Annual Report on its website on April 26th which is recognized as World IP day. It also gives us an important wrap-up of the milestones in the last year. I don’t think the IPAB has ever come out with such a report in the past. The report can be accessed over here. (Image: Logo of the IPAB) Some of the important milestones, as extracted from the report, are as follows:
Intellectual Property Appellate Board has been witnessing a steady increase in the number of cases before it. The year 2011 was no exception. 353 new cases – both Trademark and Patent included – were filed during 2011. The winds of change saw several new appointments being made at different levels. Smt. Justice Prabha Sridevan was appointed as the Hon’ble Chairman of the Board on 09/05/2011. Smt. Justice Prabha Sridevan served as the Judge of High Court of Madras for more than ten years from March, 2000 to August, 2010 prior to assuming charge in IPAB. Mr. D.P.S. Parmar, formerly Deputy Controller of Patents, assumed charge as Technical Member (Patents) in IPAB on 04/05/2011. The Head of the Registry of the Board is headed by the Deputy Registrar. Mr. N. Anbazhagan, Assistant Registrar of Madras High Court, took over the reins of the Registry on 05/12/2011 after Mr. G.Vijayaraghavan, the erstwhile Deputy Registrar, demitted office on 01/08/2011. Mr.V.Ravi, formerly Senior Joint Registrar of Trade Marks was appointed as Technical Member (Trade Marks) on 13.12.2011 (He assumed charge on 2.1.2012).
The term speedy disposal – an avowed purpose for creation of the Board – acquired a distinctive meaning as the number of disposed cases catapulted from 166 for the year 2010 to 274 during the year 2011. The achievement will be better appreciated keeping in mind that the Trademark and Patent Benches could not be constituted for four months and five months respectively due to absence of incumbents. Hence, the disposal figure of 274 is the output of just about 7 to 8 months. Further, it is pertinent to mention here that the speedy disposal has been achieved despite the problems ranging from poor inadequate infrastructure to paucity of manpower.
In 2011, Circuit Bench Sittings became more frequent, resulting in the increase in disposal of cases.
Important orders such as, Yahoo Case, Infosys case, Anandabhavan case, Brooke Bond Tea case, etc. were among the orders pronounced during 2011 and other orders pertaining to procedural aspects regarding leave of court under Section 124, granting of time under IPAB Rules, were also passed.
The problems that continue to afflict the Board were highlighted before the Hon’ble First Bench of the High Court of Madras in a PIL filed by a professor in Intellectual Property Rights, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (W.P.No.1256 of 2011). The Hon’ble High Court has, by way of interim order, directed the Central Government to make available good infrastructure to the Board to ensure proper functioning. The Central Government has indicated its willingness to allow IPAB to hire a bigger accommodation till a regular infrastructure is available. The Board is in the process of finalizing a suitable accommodation. The PIL is still pending.