New bill proposes the abolition of India’s troubled IPAB


Alex Baldwin

New bill proposes the abolition of India’s troubled IPAB

Source: Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB)

A new draft bill from India’s Union Finance Minister proposes the closure of the country's Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).

As first reported by SpicyIP, The Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill 2021, proposed by Nirmala Sitharaman and printed on February 12, suggests the abolition of the board and the transfer of its responsibilities to the commercial and high courts.

“With a view to streamline tribunals, the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 is proposed to be enacted to abolish certain tribunals and authorities and to provide a mechanism for filing appeals directly to the commercial court or the High Court, as the case may be,” the bill reads.

The reasons for the abolition of IPAB include the board having “not led to a faster justice delivery … at a considerable expense to the exchequer,” and to hopefully “reduce the burden on the public exchequer, but also address the issue of shortage of supporting staff of tribunals and infrastructure.”

The draft bill also seeks the closure of the Appellate Tribunal, Airport Appellate Tribunal, the Plant Varieties Appellate Tribunal and the Authority for Advance Rulings.

“The chairman and members of such tribunals shall cease to hold office and they shall be entitled to claim compensation not exceeding three months' pay and allowances for the premature termination of term of their office or of any contract of service,” according to the bill.

Missed deadlines

This notice came just a few hours after the Supreme Court dismissed an application seeking a further extension to seeking a new IPAB chairperson, according to SpicyIP.

A prior extension to the deadline had been granted in 2017, giving the board until September 2019 to appoint another chairperson.

The application for a further extension was filed by the International Association for Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI)

“In view of the above conclusions, this court holds that the applicant cannot be granted any relief. The application is accordingly dismissed; there shall, however, be no order on costs,” the judgement concluded.

Trouble at the IPAB

This could mark the end for the troubled board. Since it was established in 2003, it has yet to appoint key members resulting in more than 4,000 pending cases.

“Unfortunately, from its inception, the board had to struggle to create the necessary infrastructure and appoint a technical member and chairman in its 15-plus years of existence. As a result, cases continue to pile up,” RNA founder and managing partner Ranjan Narula wrote in an article for WIPR.

In August last year, a petition was approved by the India controller general office to abolish IPAB.

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India, IPAB, Nirmala Sitharaman, Intellectual Property