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Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

After Delhi High Court, the Chennai High Court has now become the second Court in the country with a dedicated Intellectual Property Division (IPD), which will exclusively deal with intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes. The IPD will replace the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) which played a key role in adjudication of IPR appeals and cases. The Chennai-headquartered IPAB, which was the appellate board for the IPR related disputes in the country, was abolished in 2021 following the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021. Now, with the creation of IPD, all these cases will be dealt with by the IPD which include all original proceedings, appellate and other proceedings related to IPR including revocation applications, cancellation applications, other original proceedings, appeals and petitions from the various Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs) and all other proceedings which were so far maintainable before the IPAB. The scope of IPD is very broad because it is applicable to a wide range of IPRs and it will be able to deal with the matters related to IPR protection, disputes, data exclusivity, privacy, etc.  The creation of IPD is significant as, according to World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021, among the large middle-income countries between 2017 and 2019, applicants residing in India filed 17.8% of total patent applications in pharmaceuticals. Several pharma companies have received patents for their products and innovations.

The creation of IPD in High Courts is a significant step which is in line with global practices in this regard. Such IP Divisions or IP Courts, which exclusively deal with IPR matters, already exist in UK, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and China and the creation of IPD with comprehensive rules governing IPR matters, is a right step taken towards efficient disposal of all cases pertaining to patents in the country. The creation of IPDs in the High Courts will prove to be a good move by the government as the overall scrapping of IPAB, which efficiently had been dealing with proceedings involving complex IPR issues, had created a void in appellate resolution of cases leading to their shift to High Courts thereby increasing pendency of cases. Of course, the creation of IPD at High Courts will bring in consistency in precedents set by the Courts in the area of IP law. It is of much significance as there has been a gradual rise in patent litigation in the pharmaceutical sector over the years. The surge in pharma patent litigation in the country is attributed to the amendment introduced to the Patents Act, to bring it in line with Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In 2005 India introduced product patents for pharmaceuticals due to its commitment under TRIPS. The Indian Patent Office started issuing product patents in 2009. As a result, the innovator foreign drug companies started filing infringement suits against domestic pharmaceutical companies, which led to a rise in patent litigation in the pharmaceutical sector. In such a background, the creation of IPD augurs well for the pharmaceutical industry as it is an encouraging step taken towards efficient disposal of patent litigations. The government should now encourage other High Courts in the country, especially the High Courts of Kolkata and Mumbai, to set up IPDs for effective and timely resolution of IP cases.


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