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India- The IPAB signs off, as the President signs on The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021

On 4th April 2021, the Honourable President of India announced The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 (the ‘Ordinance’). Pursuant to the Ordinance, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (‘IPAB’) would be abolished. Before the Ordinance comes into effect, the Ordinance had to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament for consideration, within six weeks of the commencement of the next Parliamentary session. During the said session, the Parliament can either approve or decline the said Ordinance.

Therefore, on 2nd August 2021, the Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman introduced The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 (the ‘Bill’) in the Lok Sabha (i.e. the Lower House of Parliament). The said Bill was identical to the aforementioned Ordinance. The Bill passed through the scrutiny of the Lok Sabha on 3rd August 2021, and by the Rajya Sabha (i.e. the Upper House of Parliament) on 9th August 2021, and consequently was enacted as The Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021 (the ‘Act’). The Act received the Honourable President’s assent on 13th August 2021. As a result of this enactment, the IPAB is now abolished.

Going forward, all appeals against the decisions of the Registrar of Trade Marks, the Controller of Patents, and the Registrar of Geographical Indications, will need to be filed before the High Courts instead of the now-defunct IPAB. Likewise, all appeals against the decisions of the Registrar of Copyright, will need to be filed before the Commercial Courts or the High Courts exercising jurisdiction. Further, all appeals, applications and proceedings which are currently pending before the IPAB, shall be transferred to the said Courts, respectively.

With the abolishment of the IPAB, the Honourable High Court of Delhi has now created an Intellectual Property Division (the “ÏP Division”). The IP Division will handle all matters related to intellectual property rights filed before the High Court, including, but not limited to, original and appellate proceedings, IPR suits, revocation and cancellation actions, as well as any appeals from the Office of the Registrar of Trade Marks as well as the Controller of Patents. The IP Division will be governed by special Rules framed for the said purpose. In addition, the original proceedings will also be governed by the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (as amended) as well as the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (as amended), inter alia.