The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021
The Bill was introduced in the House of People on 13th February 2021 and was proposed to amend the Cinematography Act, 1952, the Customs Act 1962, the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, the Trademarks Act, 1999, and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 and certain other Acts. Since the bill did not receive Parliamentary acceptance as the Parliament was not in session, an ordinance was issued by the President of India. In this IP Update, the focal point shall revolve around the aspects which are relevant for Intellectual Property Litigation as per the amendments made via Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill 2021.
The Cinematograph Act, 1952: As per the amendment made any person applying for a certificate in respect of a film, who is aggrieved by any order of the Board of Film Certification shall now appeal before the High Court within 30 days from the date of the order instead of the tribunal. The Appeal shall lie for (i) refusing to grant a certificate; (ii) granting only an ‘A’ certificate; (iii) granting only ‘S’ certificate; or (iv) granting only a ‘UA’ certificate; or (v) directing the applicant to carry out any excisions or modifications. The appellate functions of the tribunal shall be taken over by the Hon’ble High Court.
The Copyright Act, 1957: The amendment brings new changes, wherein the definition of ‘Commercial Court’ is introduced under clause ‘fa’ and replaces the Appellate Tribunal. Additionally, the definition of ‘prescribed’ now includes the law for proceeding to be taken up in the High Court. The issues of (i) whether a work has been published or as to the date on which a work was published for Purpose of Terms of Copyright, or (ii) whether the terms of copyright for any work are shorter in any other country than that provided in respect of that work, shall now be heard and addressed before the Commercial Court. The High Court shall be the authority before which Rectification Proceeding under Section 50 shall take place, and the Commercial Court of the High Court shall be the authority before which a legitimate person may apply in accordance with law for fixing the resale share rights in the original copies of a painting, sculpture or drawing, or of the original manuscript of a literary or dramatic work or musical work. The Appeals against the order of the Registrar of Copyrights shall lie before the single Judge of the High Court. And the Appeal from the Single Judge can further be appealed before the Bench of the High Court if preferred within 3 months. The Single Judge at any time can also refer the appeal before the Bench of the High Court if deemed required. The Act has been amended to streamline the hierarchy of the proceeding before the High Court for effective functioning.
The Patent Act, 1970: The definition of Appellate Board has been deleted in the definition clause of Section 2 of the Act. It is interesting to note that the Proceeding to grant Patent to true and first Inventor in case of wrongfully obtained shall now be heard before the Commercial Court of the High Court or the District Court of each district instead of IPAB. Whether every District Court gets the Technical Member/Scientific Advisors for the proceeding is yet to be seen. The Revocation and Invalidation Proceeding along with proceeding carrying out of amending of the specification in revocation proceeding shall be heard and addressed before High Court, and Supplementary provision of amendment after grant shall be before Controller of Patent or the High Court. The Proceeding for rectification of the register shall be taken before High Court. High Court can certify the validity of claims and any person relying upon the certificate in subsequent suits for infringement of that claim can obtain the final order or judgment in his favor.
The Trademark Act, 1999: The definition of Appellate Board, Bench, Chairperson, Judicial Member, Member, Tribunal, and Vice-Chairperson are deleted in furtherance of the amendment. The definition of ‘prescribed’ now includes the law for proceeding to be taken up in the High Court. The Appellate Board (IPAB) was constituted via Section 83 of the Trademark Act, 1999, and under the Copyright Act, 1957. Section 83 which sets the law for establishing the IPAB was inserted in the Trademark Act via Act 7 of 2017, S.161 (b). The abolishment of IPAB via amendment allows the Registrar of the High Court to separately perform the functions of IPAB.
The Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999: The definition of the Appellate Board and Tribunal are deleted in furtherance of the amendment. The amendment allows the Registrar of the High Court to separately perform the functions of IPAB. Any person aggrieved by Registrar’s Order can approach High Court for the redressal.
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001: The definition of the Chairman of the Tribunal, Judicial Member, Member, Tribunal, and Technical Member are deleted in furtherance of the amendment. The definition of ‘prescribed’ now includes the law for proceeding to be taken up in the High Court. The Provision regarding Tribunal and composition of Tribunal are omitted. The amendment allows the High Court to take up appeal regarding (i) Order or decision of Registrar/Authority relating to registration of a variety, (ii) Order or decision of the Registrar relating to registration as an agent or licensee of a variety; (iii) Order or decision of the Authority relating to claim for benefit sharing, or (iv) Order or decision of the Authority relating to compulsory license or modification of compulsory license; or (v) Order or decision of the Authority regarding payment of compensation, made under this Act or the rules made thereunder.
The amendments are made to organize the system regarding the protection and effective implementation of Intellectual Property Rights in the Country.