Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can Patent Office Issue Reminders in Opposition Proceedings?

During the course of research on a related issue, I ended up asking myself this question- Can the Patent Office issue reminders to applicants/patentees in pre-grant and post-grant oppositions before the prescribed period ends, in situations where no counter-statement has been filed by the applicant/patentee after having received the notice of opposition?

My answer would be that although there does not appear to be a specific provision on this point (I could be wrong here), it would be inappropriate and impermissible under the law for the Patent Office to send reminders to the applicant/patentee if he hasn’t filed his reply despite having received the notice of opposition.

The reason for this is that once the notice of opposition has been received by the applicant/patentee, it is for him to evince interest in the proceedings by filing a reply along with his evidence. In the event he fails to do so, an inference of abandonment could be legitimately drawn against the applicant/patentee.

After all, if the Patents Act clearly envisages a specific consequence of abandonment, which has benefits for third parties/competitors and public interest, the Patent Office ought not to issue reminders to the applicant/patentee urging him to file a reply. Issuing reminders to either party would amount to clear transgression of powers and violation of the intention of the Act. 

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