The Government of India notified Trade Mark Rules, 2017 with effect from 6th March 2017 with a view to simplify and speed up the entire process of trade mark administration. With a strong thrust towards digitalizing the entire administration incentives have been provided for digital filing and electronic communication.
One welcome change brought about by the Rules was the allowance of video conferencing for hearings. The provision for attending the hearing via video conferencing is provided under Rule 115 (2017), and the relevant part of the said provision reads as follows:
"Provide that the hearing may also be held through video-conferencing or through any other audio-visual communication devices and in such cases the hearing shall be deemed to have taken place at the appropriate office."
The video conferencing would enable the applicants/agents to defend their cases without physically being present at Trade Marks Registry.
In this regard, the Registry has recently introduced the option for the Applicants to select an appropriate mode of attending the hearing, i.e. either through video conferencing, or by attending the same in person at the Trade Marks Registry.
The Registry now provides a link in the hearing notice (sent to the Applicant via e-mail) for requesting the video conference, and the said request is to be filed within 14 days of the receipt of the hearing notice by the Applicant.
Further, with respect to the applications wherein a reply to the examination report is to be filed, at the stage of filing of e-filing the reply on the Registry's website, the Applicant is now required to select an appropriate mode of attending the hearing, i.e. either through video conferencing, or by attending the same in person at the trade Marks Registry.
This move has been carried out in order facilitate an expedient process of prosecuting trademark applications. This comes as a boon for outstation Applicants who would otherwise have to travel to the appropriate offices from different cities / states to attend their hearings.
The provision for attending hearings through video conferencing or other communication devices has been provided under the Trade Marks Rules to encourage the digital drive undertaken by the Government and positively expedite the process of registration. This is a very positive step in increasing efficiency.
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