Practitioners have long wished for a separate IP division in High Courts. With the abolishment of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in 2021, cases previously filed with or pending before the IPAB have been transferred to the High Courts. It then became imperative to establish a separate IP division in the High Courts.

Following this objective, the High Court of Madras established an Intellectual Property committee to devise the necessary procedures. Subsequently, based on the committee’s recommendations, the Madras High Court established an Intellectual Property Division (IPD) to handle cases involving Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The rules (Madras High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2022) pertaining to the practice and procedure of the Madras High Court Intellectual Property Rights Division for exercising its ordinary original, appellate, criminal, and writ jurisdiction have been published in the Gazette dated April 5, 2023. These rules are applicable to all matters listed before the IP Division.

Proceedings of the following Intellectual Property Disputes of civil nature would be governed by these rules.

  1. Cases pertaining to Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Geographical Indications, Plant Varieties, Designs, Semiconductor integrated circuit layout designs, Traditional Knowledge, and all rights under common law, if any, associated therewith;
  2. Cases relating to passing off, acts of unfair competition, disparagement, comparative advertising, etc.;
  3. Cases relating to the protection of trade secrets, confidential information, and related cases or proceedings;
  4. Cases including tortious actions related to privacy and publicity rights involving intellectual property issues;
  5. Issues of data exclusivity, domain names, and other matters relating to data protection involving intellectual property issues, as also those arising under the Acts as defined in Rule 2(1) including appeals arising out of Sec. 62 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 including cases pertaining to the Information Technology Act, 2000 dealing with the rights and liabilities of intermediaries, online marketplaces, e-commerce platforms involving issues relating to any of the aforementioned rights including internet violations and any other proceeding pertaining, relating, incidental, ancillary to any of the subject matters under clauses (i) through (v) above.
  6. any challenge to the order passed under Sec. 11 of the Customs Act,1962, and related notifications.

It is important to mention that these rules are not applicable to criminal proceedings that arise from the penal provisions under the aforementioned Acts.

Last, but not the least, my colleagues at the bar, the Intellectual Property Association of South India (IPASI) deserve commendation for their tireless efforts in leading the initiative to establish an Intellectual Property Division in the Madras High Court. Their unwavering commitment to the cause of promoting and protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has resulted in the creation of a specialized forum for resolving IP disputes in the High Court. The establishment of the IP Division will not only streamline the resolution of IP disputes but also enhance the quality of justice being delivered in this specialized area. IPASI’s role in this accomplishment highlights their dedication to fostering a conducive environment for IPR in India and their leadership will continue to inspire the legal fraternity in India to strive for excellence in the field of Intellectual Property.