COVID 19 and the IPR World in India

Our Associate and Manager (Trade Mark Prosecution and Oppositions), Ajaya Kumar V, discusses on “COVID 19 and the IPR World in India”

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, India has been under a lockdown since March 25, 2020. Although the lockdown is slated to end on April 14, 2020, it appears that the lockdown may be extended further. In addition, there are several administrative steps being taken to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, such sealing of areas identified as hotspots.

The Trade Marks Registry and all other IP Offices in the country are closed until further notice. The Registry, in a public notice, dated March 25, 2020, announced that all the deadlines that fall until April 14, 2020 will be extended and the new deadline shall be the date on which the Registry re-opens for business.

Since most documents at the Trade Marks Registry can be filed online, and the online filing portal of the Registry continues to function well, filings continue to happen. We, at Sujata Chaudhri IP Attorneys, have been working from home for about 4 weeks now and have been using the online filing portal extensively to meet clients’ deadlines. For instance, we are seeing that most clients are extending deadlines to file evidence owing to difficulties in notarization. However, the Registry’s portal is not accepting requests to extend deadlines to oppose. Nonetheless, opposition deadlines have been moved forward until the Registry re-opens.

The Registry has also witnessed filings for “COVID-19 related” trade mark applications. It remains to be seen how the Registry will examine these applications, in particular, whether they run afoul of any provisions of the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

It is also a high possibility that the infringement and passing off activities may rise in the field of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, health related goods, ventilators, diagnostics kits, etc. To successfully overcome this situation, the manufacturing facilities of the IPR right holders of these industries should be given more priority. There should be more vigilance needed for the quality of the goods that were used in the health care industry. Additionally, a lot of research works are also going on for the possible vaccine for COVID 19 virus in almost all the countries. It is now interesting to see the battle among the companies to protect the IPR rights on such vaccines for and naming of such vaccines. All in all, in the coming days, names of COVID 19 and CORONA will be the talk of the IPR industry.