India: The Intellectual Property Appellate Board

Last Updated: 7 September 2004
Article by Manisha Singh Nair

The establishment of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) marks the beginning of a new era in Intellectual Property Rights administration system in India. On September 15, 2003 the Trade Marks Act, 1999 was notified and the IPAB established. However, the IPAB became functional only in December, 2003 with the IPAB Rules being notified in the Gazette.

The primary purpose for the establishment of the IPAB is to provide an appellate forum to expeditiously adjudicate upon appeals from the orders or decisions passed by the Registrar of Trade Marks and Geographical Indications as well as the Controller of Patents. The IPAB has also been conferred original jurisdiction in regard to rectification proceedings under the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The Geographical Indications Act also empowers the IPAB to decide rectification applications in its original jurisdiction. As of now the IPAB has been hearing appeals from the orders passed by Registrar of Trade Marks only. Applications and appeals from the orders, decision or directions of the Controller of Patents are not yet heard by the IPAB as the required notification under the Patents Act is awaited.

The orders subject to appeal before the IPAB are those passed by the Registrar of Trade Marks during rectification or opposition proceedings. Earlier such appeals were made to the High Courts. However, it is to be noted that appeals from infringement proceedings are solely under the High Court’s jurisdiction and that the IPAB has no statutory power to try infringement proceedings.

The following are some of the salient features of the IPAB:

Composition of an IPAB Bench

Every Bench of the IPAB comprises a Judicial Member and a Technical Member. The Trade Marks Act and the Patents Act provide the particulars of the qualifications for appointment as a technical member of the IPAB.

Appeals to IPAB

An impugned order may be appealed against before the IPAB within a period of three months from the date of such order. However, the law also allows for condonation of delay subject to the satisfaction of the IPAB

Exclusive Jurisdiction

The IPAB has been conferred exclusive jurisdiction to hear appeals from the orders of the Registrar of Trade Marks, the Controller of Patents and Designs as well as the Registrar of Geographical Indications in respect of matters specified in the respective legislations.

Procedures – Non Applicability of Civil Procedure Code

The Code of Civil Procedure is not applicable to the proceedings before the IPAB. Earlier when the appeals were heard by the High Courts, procedural compliance used to consume much time and result in delayed disposal of the appeals. The simplified rules and freedom from CPC ensure faster disposal of matters before the IPAB.

Rules for Conduct of Proceedings

The IPAB has been vested with the powers to make its own rules for conduct of proceedings. A notification was passed on December 5, 2003, which laid out the Rules governing the proceedings before the IPAB i.e. IPAB (Procedure) Rules, 2003. The independence allowed to the Board is intended to aid in the faster disposal of cases and the convenience of the litigants.

Transfer of Cases

The Chairman has the power to transfer cases from one Bench to another either on an application by a party to the hearing or on its own. This discretionary power will ensure fixing the place of hearing taking into consideration the convenience of the parties.

No Ex-Parte Injunctions

No ex-parte injunction is possible in proceedings before IPAB. The emphasis is on adjudication on merits.

Power of Review

The Board has been conferred the power to review its own orders. The time limits prescribed for filing of counterstatements and reply in appeals/applications also apply to review proceedings before the IPAB. The Chairman has been given the authority to post the review proceeding before a Bench determined by him.

Appeals from IPAB

Orders passed by the IPAB are subject to appeal before the High Court.


The number of appeals and applications that have been heard and disposed of stands testimony to the promptness and optimism ushered in after the commencement of proceedings before the IPAB. The tabulated data respecting cases transferred to and decided by the IPAB is hereunder:

Sl. No.




Appeals/Applications Transferred to the IPAB from High Courts of Mumbai, Delhi, Madras and Calcutta



New Appeals/Applications filed



Number of Cases decided by the IPAB


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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