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HC Calls for Regulation of Trademark Agents

Taking note of the mushrooming of websites, rampant solicitation and misleading advertisements by trademark and patent agents, the Delhi High Court has directed the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademark to frame a draft code of conduct to regulate them and publish it on its website within two months for stakeholder consultation.

The Code of Conduct thereafter is notified within a period of six months from now i.e. by December 31, the HC directed the government.

Taking a look at the recent trend of misleading promotions by companies and other entities, including intellectual property professionals, Justice Pratibha M Singh noted the statement of members of the Intellectual Property Attorneys’ Association about the mushrooming of websites to apply for and prosecute trademarks, many of which are making misleading representations.

“The controller general ought to be able to curb such misleading and misrepresentative advertising in the larger interests of the profession and the applicants,” it said.

The HC that while it may not be illegal for such agents to have a website giving their contact and other service details, the pamphlets promising registrations in a day or giving ‘special offers’, have a larger bearing on clients and applicants who may be availing of their services.

Further, the HC noted that considering the duties and functions of patent agents, any carelessness, professional negligence, or misconduct, unless accidental or inadvertent, needs to be dealt with strictly. It also noted that currently there are no rules of conduct for these agents.

A framework also has to be put in place to deal with complaints against these agents, the HC said, adding if any complaint is filed in the meantime with the patent office, the same should be decided by an ad-hoc committee.

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