The disruption caused by this unprecedented pandemic has forced everyone into a new normal. In this new normal most of the activities have been taken to online platforms and trademark hearing is no exception.
When an application for registration of Trademark is made, it is thoroughly examined by registrar of trademark, who prepares an examination report stating the objection(s), if any. This report is then sent to the applicant/ applicant`s agent to submit reply to the objection(s). Trademark hearing in India basically takes place when the registrar of trademark is not satisfied with the submissions made by the applicant or authorized agent in response to the objection pointed out in the examination report. It is in response to this dissatisfaction that the registrar issues a Show-Cause notice to the applicant of trademark to state reasons how his trademark is distinct and why his design should not be refused. Burden lies on the applicant to convince the registrar about the uniqueness of the mark and why the design should be allowed. In this show cause notice, the date and time of the hearing is mentioned and the concerned person or agent/attorney has to make an appearance before the registrar on the mentioned date and time. Any failure to comply with this requirement can lead to adjournment of the hearing by the concerned officer.
This rule of physical appearance needed some relaxations in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19. For the same reason, Ministry of Commerce and Industries issued a notification dated 26/08/2020 introducing Video Conferencing as an alternative to physical appearance in case of Show-Cause hearing. The notification stated that “In view of the prevailing covid-19 situation and as provided under the TM Rules, 2017, it is decided to conduct Show-Cause Hearing through Video Conferencing.” But in order to take part in the hearing via Video Conferencing the applicant or authorized agent is required to give consent and confirmation for their participation. The same can be done by sending an email at email@example.com with the subject “consent for Show-cause Hearing through Video Conference” on or before 05/09/2020. No requests post this date will be entertained for Video Conference hearing. The notification also mentioned that in case of absence on the date of hearing, the application will be decided as per law.
The outbreak of the novel COVID-19 has been identified as a “public health emergency” of international concern by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020 . All spheres of life have been affected by the Pandemic alike and keeping the social distancing requirement in mind, this move was much needed.