Delhi High Court has suspended the operation of the May 18 order of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, which had directed litigants and advocates to complete various acts/proceedings, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etcetera in the matter of any intellectual property applications/actions by 01.06.2020.
Justice Jyoti Singh noted that the order of the Supreme Court, wherein the limitation period for filing documents was extended, is binding as much binding on the Controller as it is on any other court or tribunal.
The disputed order of the CGPDT had stipulated the following:
'Considering the fact that all the IP offices in India are located in Red Zones (Hotspots), the due dates, with respect to timelines/periods prescribed under the IP Acts and Rules administered by the O/o CGPDTM towards completion of various acts/proceedings, filing of any reply/document, payment of fees, etc. in the matters of any IP applications filed with the offices under the administrative control of O/o CGPDTM, falling due between the above said lockdown period shall be 01 June, 2020.'
Challenging the said order, Senior Advocate Chander M Lall submitted that the said order is contrary to the order passed by the Supreme Court in a suo moto matter titled RE: COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION, as much as protection against triggering of the period of limitation both under general and special laws.
Mr Lall also argued that as per the Controller's Order, deadlines falling between 15.03.2020 and 17.05.2020 have been extended to 01.06.2020, while timelines from 18.05.2020 and onwards have not been extended. This essentially implies that failure to meet the timelines would result in valuable rights of the stakeholders, being adversely affected.
By not extending the timelines expiring on 18.05.2020 and thereafter, Mr Lall contended, has put the Litigants and the Attorneys in a jeopardy by forcing them to move out of their houses and file oppositions/counter statements/evidences etc. at the IP Offices in order to avoid the applications, oppositions, rectifications being abandoned.
'Even the extension of limitation between 15.03.2020 and 17.05.2020 to an outer timeline of 01.06.2020 is placing enormous burden on the stakeholders, as the window is too narrow', Mr Lall stated.
While taking these arguments into consideration, the court highlighted that no Court, Tribunal or any authority can act contrary to the order of the Supreme Court dated 23.03.2020 as the same has been passed by the apex court while exercising its powers under Articles 141 and 142 of the Constitution.
Therefore, while suspending the operation of the Controller's order, the court directed CGPDTM to file an affidavit within a period of two weeks, in response to the present application.
The court observed that:
'It is not understood what prompted Respondent No.1 to issue the impugned Public Notice in the backdrop of the order dated 23.03.2020 as also order dated 11.05.2020 passed by this Court suspending the operation of its earlier Notice dated 04.05.2020, issued on similar lines.'