As you may recall, the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 was promulgated by the President of India and notified on April 4, 2021. It amended several acts relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), effectively abolished various Boards/Tribunals including the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, and vested the power to deal with pending and fresh matters which were originally the jurisdiction of such Boards/Tribunals in the appropriate High Courts instead.

Further, in order to streamline the process of dealing with IPR disputes, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice D.N.Patel constituted a two-member committee. Based on the recommendations provided for in the report of the committee, the Delhi High Court via a press release on July 7, 2021, created an Intellectual Property Division (IPD) in the said High Court to deal with all matters related to Intellectual Property Rights. This is the first such Division to be created by a competent High Court. It is therefore likely that the other competent High Courts would create their own such Divisions in due course of time.

As per the said press note, the IPD would be governed by comprehensive rules which are in the process of being framed by the Delhi High Court. It also added that apart from dealing with the original proceedings, the IPD shall also deal with the Writ Petitions (Civil), CMM, RFA, FAO relating to IPR disputes, except those cases which are to be dealt by the Division Bench of the Hon’ble Court (under the Commercial Courts Act). The press note also stated that the IPD benches shall be notified from time to time by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and that exclusive IPD benches may also be created for dealing with certain matters effectively. In furtherance of the same, an Office Order was accordingly issued by the Delhi High Court listing the above directions along with an annexure containing the nomenclatures of filing different cases before the IPD and the respective court fees payable.

This move was made with an object to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and to reduce the possibility of conflicting decisions with respect to the same trademarks, patents, etc. [although the possibility of conflicting judgments issued by different High Courts must be considered]. Considering that the IPAB has been [for various reasons] pretty much dysfunctional for the last few years, shutting down the same and transferring the cases to the High Court is likely to be a step in the right direction.  While navigating their way through this is going to be an uphill task for the Delhi High Court since the concept of an IPD is new to India, it is nevertheless a significant and crucial step taken towards efficient and speedy disposal of IPR matters in the country, especially in view of the rather shoddy [in our opinion] functioning of the Trade Mark Registry especially in terms of examination and prosecution of trademark applications. The legal fraternity hopes that other High Courts will also follow suit and establish respective IPDs to usher in an overall change in the mechanism of dealing with IPR disputes.