INDIA: PATENT OFFICE REISSUES PUBLIC NOTICES FOR HEARING ADJOURNMENTS
With a view to expedite disposal of pending patent applications, the Indian Patent Office (hereinafter referred to as ‘IPO’) has issued fresh notices dated January 16, 2023 for adjournment of patent hearings. These notices supersede the earlier notices issued (linked here) by the IPO dated December 26, 2022, wherein certain directives were effectuated for expeditious disposal of pending patent applications. The fresh notice retains the earlier issued directive on the requirement of a ‘reasonable cause’ to be accompanied by adjournment requests. However, the requirement of documentary evidence (if any) has been done away with. As per the notice, the IPO has affirmed that it will henceforth not entertain requests for an adjournment under Rule 129A of the Patents Rules if the ‘reasonable cause’ for seeking an extension is not mentioned.
However, with respect to the timelines for adjournments, the IPO has overturned its earlier directives which stated that no party shall be given more than two adjournments, with each adjournment not exceeding more than 10 (ten) days. The freshly issued notices affirm that a combined reading of Rule 129 of the Patent Rules with the proviso to Rule 129A, allows at least ten working days as the inner limit and thirty days as the outer limit vis-à-vis hearings and adjournments. Accordingly, in matters where minor procedural issues are involved, the IPO will endeavor to offer a shorter time period for adjournments, while in substantive matters related to the analysis of prior arts, claim construction etc., a longer period would be offered in accordance with the Patents Act and Rules. The IPO has clarified that in accordance with the principles of natural justice, a fair opportunity to defend would be given to the parties, and adverse action would not be taken solely on the basis of the issued Public Notice.