Monday 14 August 2017

India and an Independent trademark system

Tomorrow 15th August, India will be celebrating 70 years of Independence from the United Kingdom. Have a great party.  

For rather less long (since 2013) India has been a party to the Madrid Protocol. Since national applications are subject to such prolonged delays and Madrid permits only 18 months for national offices to report refusals, designating India under the Madrid protocol has been a popular route.

From my perspective, it seems that India has notified refusals in respect of every (?) designation made. When a provisional refusal is notified by the International Bureau to the applicant, only a one month term for response is allowed. Apparently extensions can be obtained but they are discretionary and subject to fees or at least fees from your attorney.

Notifications received by WIPO from the Indian IPO seem to be added to the Madrid monitor and Romarin databases on receipt even though they have not been notified to the applicant formally. If you have a Madrid designation of India, I would strongly recommend you to keep an eye on the real-time status. You can download the refusal as issued by the Indian IPO using Romarin. I'm not sure why it's not possible to see it via the Madrid monitor interface but that seems to be the way it is.

India allocates its own serial number to the application. Using that or the international registration number, you can see what submissions have been made using the Indian IPO trademark search system. This is useful for checking what has been filed and confirming the details of any marks cited in your office action. It frequently seems to turn out that they are expired or are significantly different from the black-and-white representation included in the office action.

You will also need a power of attorney. Simple signatures are acceptable and if you scan the original in colour maybe you won't need to invest in sending the original by courier.

Representatives views seem to differ as to whether as an amendment to the specification to overcome a  citation can be filed with directly with the Indian patent office or must be filed centrally by WIPO using the Form MM6 and paying the associated fee. 

I have also been informed that:

Submissions in respect of IRs designating India have to be made electronically in the dedicated on-line portal of the Indian Trademark Office, after digitally signing documents. However, due to lack of stability of the Trademark Office's on-line system, and regular technical problems, multiple attempts may be required before a successful submission can be made

Since India is likely to be an increasingly important trading partner for the UK after Brexit, good luck in protecting your brands there. If any readers have further suggestions or tips, please comment