A truly comprehensive e-filing system by Indian Trademarks Office
Following my earlier posts on this topic (see here and here) and after yesterday’s upgrade by the Indian Trademarks Office, the e-filing system (“system”) now has all the forms prescribed by the Trademarks Rules.
This upgrade consists of requests relating to recordal, cancellation and other changes of a registered user (a licensee), requests for refusing or invalidating a trademark consists of a Geographical Indication, trademark agent-related requests, a few forms for extension of time for specific purposes and other miscellaneous forms.
Now this is the exciting part. Among other things, the Trademarks Office now lets us file an RTI (right to information) application online using its system. Prior to this launch, we were required to submit the RTI application on paper. This is quite helpful for lawyers who file a large number of RTI applications to know the status of their client’s marks or simply to analyse the Trademarks Office’s trends and workings.
Interestingly, there are symbols like “*”, “#”, “$” beside the particulars that are to be specified in the form. People generally familiar with online registration forms would presume that “*” pertains to a mandatory input field. I am however not sure about “#” and “$”.
We can also choose to receive the response to our RTI application through post or in person. If response through post is chosen, we might have to pay for it additionally. This is a bit strange considering the fact that the RTI law does not specify any fee in respect of postal responses. However, I presume these postal charges would apply only if there is a huge stack of information to be provided
- by paper which would require the Trademarks Office to pay the post office by weight; or
- in electronic format, say CD.
Charging the RTI applicant in such cases is understandable although legally there is no provision for it.
If the applicant is a person below poverty line, it could be specified that by ticking the appropriate box. I wonder how this claim of below poverty line would be verified though and the whole point of such a provision in the Trademarks Office. I believe that this provision has been made since the RTI law requires that no fee be charged from a person below poverty line.
After all the updates, it would be interesting to see the system being maintained and used. The Trademarks Office also released its annual report for the financial year of 2012-2013, yesterday. The annual report shows the revenue generated by the Trademarks Office for the was to the tune of INR 110 crores (which is approximately USD 18 million) and its expenses were around INR 9 crores (approximately USD 1.5 million). This therefore means that the revenue surplus for the financial year 2012-2013 was INR 101 crores (approximately USD 16.5 million). With so much revenue surplus in one financial year just through trademarks, we are hoping that the Trademarks Office would invest sufficient funds in additional security features, hiring and training more staff for speedy disposal of applications and oppositions.
For now, as always, I look forward to comments from our readers about the e-filing system.