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CGPDTM to hire 250 contractual opposition hearing officers to address pendency

Gireesh Babu, New Delhi
Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In a latest to the ongoing litigation between companies including Dr Reddy's Laboratories, Terrace Pharmaceuticals and others against the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM) related to trade mark opposition filings, the Controller has informed the Delhi High Court that it is in the process of hiring 250 contractual opposition hearing officers exclusively to address the opposition pendency in its office.

A fresh status report filed by the CGPDTM with the High Court said that the number of officials for hearing trade mark opposition matters has already been increased, with a marginal decrease in the pendency of opposition matters in the last three months.

The status report shows that the number of hearing officers started hearing oppositions was 47 compared to the 41 reported in a status report filed on October 20, 2022.

The number of oppositions that have been taken up for hearing during the three months from October to December, 2022 was 14,634 and the number of cases settled or disposed of during the period was 13,367 cases. On an average, the Ahmedabad office of the CGPDTM takes around 55-65 opposition matters on a daily basis, while Chennai office hears around 70 matters, Delhi office around 110-115 matters, Kolkata office around 35-40 matters and Mumbai office around 70-80 matters, informed the CGPDTM.

It added that the cumulative filing for all the branches in the last three months was 11,129 applications and the branches had cumulatively disposed of 13,467 files during the period.

However, the number of trade mark applications with third party opposition pending with the CGPDTM has gone up from 2,27,203 in May, 2022, to around 2,38,951 as on December 31, 2022. The highest number of cases are pending with the Delhi office of the CGPDTM, with around 89,775 opposition matters pending. Mumbai has 59,735 cases pending, while Chennai has 37,425 cases, Ahmedabad has 35,009 cases and Kolkata has 17,009 cases pending at the end of the year 2022.

The CGPDTM, in its status report to the High Court submitted, "In order to reduce the opposition pendency, the Office of CGPDTM is in the process of hiring 250 contractual opposition hearing officers exclusively to address the opposition pendency."

Justice Prathiba M Singh taking the report into consideration, noted, "Considering the data submitted above, it appears that some progress has been made in increasing hearing in the opposition matters. Further, it has also been stated in the said status report that the CGPDTM is intending to hire 250 contractual opposition hearing officers."

"In view of the above, let the status of the engagement of hearing officers be placed on record by the next date of hearing along with the latest data in respect of pendency of the opposition matters," added the Order issued on January 5, 2023. The matter is now listed for hearing on April 21, 2023.

The issue related to the pendency of trade mark opposition with the CGPDTM came up with four petitions filed against the CGPDTM in the year 2022, alleging that the office has disallowed them from filing oppositions to the trade mark applications, which they wish to oppose. These oppositions were not entertained by the Trade Mark Office on the ground that they were proposed to be filed beyond the time period of four months, as prescribed under Section 21 of the Trademarks Act, 1999.

Among this, Dr Reddy’s wanted to file opposition against the Trade Mark application for Razomax, filed by Florem Pharmaceuticals, while Terrace Pharmaceuticals wanted to oppose a trade mark application for Sanjivani Mantra. The petitioners argued that while the Supreme Court in an order passed on the Cognizance of Extension of Limitation has made it clear that the period from March 15, 2020 to February 28, 2022 has to be fully excluded for the purpose of calculation of limitation under all enactments and statutes, both before judicial and quasi judicial bodies, the benefit was given selectively to some and not to all.

In an order on March 21, 2022 the Court directed the Trade Mark Registry to allow time till May 30, 2022, for those who want to file opposition on trade marks advertised during the period of Covid-19 pandemic, in line with the earlier orders of the Supreme Court. An affidavit filed by the CGPDTM following this, on May 10, 2022, stated that there are around 2,27,203 oppositions pending across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad offices of the Trade Mark Registry and almost 1,13,052 oppositions were filed between January 2016 and December 2020, while 27,542 were filed from January 2021 and March 2022.

The CGPDTM has also been asked to file the status report of pending opposition matters and the steps it has taken to reduce the pendency. The CGPDTM has been filing periodic updates with quarterly data on the actions it has taken to reduce the pendency and the data including the total number of cases pending during the time of filing status report.

The Court had earlier imposed Rs 1 lakh as cost to two senior officials of the CGPDTM for communicating incorrect facts to the Court. Considering a review petition filed by the officials, the Court later observed that the impression it gets from various affidavits is that there has been a clear lack of communication between the various officers and conflicting notices were issued in respect of acceptance of oppositions. The Court then observed that the lapse, attributed to the officials personally, shall be treated as an overall lapse of the office of CGPDTM and the Controller can decide on whether the cost imposed shall be deposited by the office as a whole or by any of the officers individually.


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