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Placement of Order on Website by Registrar of Trademark Does Not Constitute Communication of order

In the realm of intellectual property law, the proper communication of decisions by authorities is crucial to ensure due process and fair treatment of applicants. The recent case involving the petitioner seeking the setting aside of impugned orders dated 25th November 2021 and 18th May 2022 in Application No. IRDI-4998621 highlights the significance of adhering to procedural requirements in the communication of decisions. This case underscores the principle that merely placing an order on a website does not constitute effective communication to the affected party, as mandated by the applicable rules and legal precedents.

Background of the Case:
The petitioner's trademark application was provisionally refused by the respondent on 10th June 2021, on the grounds of non-distinctiveness under Section 9(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. Following this provisional refusal, the petitioner sought a review of the order on 24th December 2021. This review application was summarily dismissed by the Senior Examiner through a non-speaking order dated 18th May 2022.

Issue of Communication:
A critical issue arose when the review order dated 18th May 2022 was merely uploaded on the Registrar’s website without being communicated directly to the petitioner as required under Rule 111 of the Trademarks Rules, 2017. The petitioner argued that they only became aware of the review order on 18th January 2024 and subsequently filed the petition expeditiously on 24th January 2024, thus there was no delay in filing.

Court’s Observations:
The court allowed the petition, observing that there was no delay in filing, particularly considering Rule 111 of the Trademarks Rules, 2017. This rule expressly mandates the communication of the decision by the Registrar to the affected party. The court referenced the Division Bench decision in the case of "Institute of Cost Accountants of India vs. Registrar of Trade Marks and Anr., 2013 (3) Mh.L.J. 418", which held that mere placement of a notice on the website does not satisfy the requirement of communication under the Rules.

Legal Precedents and Rules:
In the Institute of Cost Accountants case, the court held that the Registrar of Trademarks had failed to indicate any obligation for the petitioner to inspect the website daily. There was no rule or practice that legally bound the petitioner to take notice of postings on the Registrar’s website. Thus, the petitioner could not be imputed with the knowledge of the decision simply because it was posted online.

Similarly, in the present case, the respondent did not follow the required procedure to directly communicate the decision to the petitioner. This failure to comply with Rule 111 of the Trademarks Rules, 2017, rendered the mere online posting of the order insufficient for legal purposes.

Implications of Non-Communication:
The failure to communicate decisions properly has significant implications. It deprives the affected party of the opportunity to respond or take appropriate legal action within the stipulated time. This procedural lapse can lead to the setting aside of decisions, as seen in the present case, where the court found no delay in filing the petition due to the lack of proper communication.

Author’s Ending Note:
This case reinforces the necessity for authorities to adhere strictly to procedural rules when communicating decisions. The principle that merely placing an order on a website does not constitute effective communication protects applicants from procedural unfairness and ensures that they are duly informed of decisions affecting their rights. It is a reminder that proper and direct communication is a fundamental aspect of administrative fairness and legal compliance in intellectual property law.

The court’s decision to allow the petition highlights the importance of following established procedures for communication. This ensures that all parties are fairly treated and have the opportunity to respond appropriately to decisions that impact their legal rights. The adherence to Rule 111 of the Trademarks Rules, 2017, and similar provisions is essential for maintaining the integrity and fairness of the legal process in trademark registration and other administrative proceedings.

Case Citation: Seiwa Kasei Co. Ltd Vs Registrar Of Trade Marks: 14.06.2024: Civil Misc.Petition 6676 of 2024:2024:BHC:-OS-8730:Bombay High Court: R.I.Chagla. H.J.

The information shared here is intended to serve the public interest by offering insights and perspectives. However, readers are advised to exercise their own discretion when interpreting and applying this information. The content herein is subjective and may contain errors in perception, interpretation, and presentation.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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