As a result of the nationwide lockdown (until April 14, 2020) announced by the Government of India, several institutions across the country have suspended operations at least till this date.
On March 23, the Supreme Court of India took suo motu cognizance of challenges faced by the country due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including the difficulties that legal practitioners and litigants may face. To obviate such difficulties and also to limit physical presence, the Supreme Court invoked its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to extend the period of limitation in all proceedings with effect from March 15 till further orders.
The High Court of Delhi and the IP Offices have also announced measures that will affect IP proceedings. Below we answer some of the common questions concerning scheduled hearings.
Yes. The High Court of Delhi has ordered that its functioning shall stand suspended till April 15 2020.
Hearings have been officially suspended by the High Court of Delhi since March 23. However, from March 16 itself, the High Court had restricted hearings only to matters requiring urgent intervention of the court. In all other cases where the situation wasn’t dire or urgent, the High Court had adjourned them to designated dates.
Thereafter, the High Court has officially suspended hearings from March 17 till April 15.
The hearings between March 23 and April 15 have been re-notified to the following dates:
The period of limitation to file any necessary pleadings, appeals, or application, shall remain suspended between March 23 and April 4. The Delhi High Court and all courts subordinate to it have been ordered to be considered as “closed” from the point of view of section 4 of the Limitation Act 1963.
In other words, if the period of limitation to file any pleading, appeal, lawsuit, or application is expiring for any party between March 23 and April 4, then the party shall not be considered to be in default. Instead, all such parties can proceed with their filings after April 13, when the court was scheduled to reopen after a short vacation.
However, there is no reason to worry as far as the issue of limitation is concerned because the Supreme Court has extended the period of limitation for filing petitions, appeals and lawsuits before all courts and tribunals in India until further orders.
Yes. One can ask the court to take up hearings in cases where urgent issues are required to be addressed.
The High Court of Delhi has announced a two-pronged process to take up urgent hearings:
(i) Establish a case of urgency – Until April 4, one can contact designated officers of the High Court of Delhi by telephone to request the court to consider hearing the case. Telephone calls can be made between 10:30 am and 12 noon only. On this telephone call, one is required to satisfy the court that the dispute is truly one of urgency. The designated officers of the High Court for this task hold the position of Registrar or Joint Registrar.
(ii) Hearings through video conference – If the Joint Registrar concerned is satisfied that the matter requires an urgent hearing, the case shall be listed at 11:30 AM on the next date. The hearings shall accordingly take place through video conferencing.
For further details on how to contact the High Court of Delhi, please see the court’s notice here.
All interim orders in cases before the High Court of Delhi and subordinate courts shall continue to be in operation till May 15, except for those cases where orders have been passed by the Supreme Court.
Any aggrieved party may approach the court and file the necessary application to limit or modify the operation of such interim orders. If a party wishes to approach the court during the period of suspension then it may do so in accordance with the steps listed above.
All in-person and video conferencing hearings between March 23 and April 14 have been suspended. Dates on which these hearings shall be rescheduled shall be communicated by the Patent Office.
What is the status of hearings scheduled after April 15?
All such hearings shall be taken up as per normal practice and procedure of the Patent Office.
Are there any extensions being provided by the Patent Office for submissions with a specific deadline?
All filings, including payment of fees, filing of documents and responses, which are due in the period between March 25 and April 14 shall remain suspended during this period. The time for such filings shall become effective from the date on which the Patent Office resumes operations.
In a notice published in March, the Patent Office advised applicants and parties to use the provisions of Rule 6 (6) of the Patents Rules 2003 to request an extension of time or condone delay in filing documents and other responses. However, one must bear in mind that the Supreme Court’s directions to extend limitation periods for all courts, tribunals will be applicable to these proceedings as well.
All hearings between March 17 and April 15 have been suspended. Dates on which these hearings shall be rescheduled shall be communicated by the Trade Mark Office.
What is the status of hearings scheduled after April 15?
All such hearings shall be taken up as per normal practice and procedure.
Are there any extensions being provided for submissions with a specific deadline?
All filings, including payment of fees, filing of documents and responses, which are due in the period between March 25 and April 14 shall remain suspended during this period. The time for such filings shall become effective from the date on which the Trade Mark Office resumes operations.
In a notice published in March, the Trade Marks Office advised applicants and parties to be aware of the provisions of section 131 of the Trade Marks Act 1999 and Rules 109 and 110 of the Trade Marks Rules 2017 which concern applications for an extension of time. Such applications can also be filed after the pandemic situation normalizes and they shall be decided by the Registrar in accordance with law. These proceedings are also bound by the Supreme Court’s order on extension of limitation period.
Yes. All hearings between March 17 and March 31 were suspended before the nationwide lockdown came into force. Furthermore, the operations of all tribunals have been suspended for 21 days with effect from March 25.
What about extensions for filing documents, responses and applications during the period of the lockdown?
All filings such as payment of fee, filing of documents, responses etc. which are due in the period between March 25, 2020 and April 14, 2020 shall remain suspended in this period. The time for such filings shall become effective from the date on which the concerned Office resumes operations. The Supreme Court’s directions to extend limitation periods for all courts and tribunals shall be applicable to these proceedings as well.
Yes. All hearings before Assistant Controller of Patents & Designs, Dr S K Barik, which were scheduled for March 27 have been rescheduled for April 22.
Besides, all hearings before Assistant Controller of Patents & Designs, Mr Arup Guru, which were scheduled between March 18 and April 3 have been rescheduled for dates between April 16 and April 28.
All filings, including payment of fees, filing of documents and responses, which are due in the period between March 25 and April 14 shall remain suspended during this period. The time for such filings shall become effective from the date on which the concerned Office resumes operations. The resumed operation shall be in accordance with the Supreme Court order on the extension of the limitation period.
With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to an unprecedented halt, we at Anand and Anand are working to ensure that the interests of our clients and colleagues are protected.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, any other of its practitioners, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact the author(s) if you have any questions about this article.
Vaishali Mittal is a litigation partner and strategist at Anand and Anand with over 17 years’ experience in IP litigation, prosecution, and advisory work.
Siddhant Chamola is a managing associate at Anand and Anand with over five years of experience in IP litigation. He works closely with Mr Pravin Anand, Ms Vaishali Mittal and has been part of a team which has secured many landmark decisions such as the first judgment on standard essential patents in India (Philips case).
To supplement our coverage of the announcements made by IP Offices, we invited firms from different jurisdictions to provide an expert analysis of the legal and procedural measures brought in to deal with the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Please contact the editor, Kingsley Egbuonu (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you would like to write about your jurisdiction.