At, Intellectual Property Appellate Board
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K.N. BASHA
By, CHAIRMAN & THE HONOURABLE MR. SANJEEV KUMAR CHASWAL
By, TECHNICAL MEMBER (TRADEMARKS)
For the Appearing Parties: Gladys Daniel, Aashish, Bhavana, Sukanya, P. Sanjay Gandhi, Julien George, Advocates.
ORDER (No.41 of 2015)
K.N. Basha, Chairman
The Miscellaneous Petition No.13/2014 in OA/5/2014/GI/CH is preferred by the petitioner herein seeking for the relief of impleading them as one of the respondents in this matter namely OA/5/2014/GI/CH.
2. Mr. P. Sanjay Gandhi, the learned counsel for the impleading petitioner, Ms. Gladys Daniel, learned counsel for the appellant and Ms. Juliet George, learned counsel for the first respondent are present today.
3. Mr. Sanjay Gandhi, learned counsel would submit that the proposed party to be impleaded as one of the respondents herein is a welfare society registered on 07/12/2011 and the said society aims at organizing awareness programme related to agriculture development and education. The learned counsel would submit that the Geographical Indication Registry as per the order dated 31/12/2013 allowed the opposition filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh. It is contended that the geographical area of protection is an important feature in granting Geographical Indication tag and the area has to be defined with clarity. Therefore, it is submitted that the products must include each and every cultivating areas where it grows. The learned counsel for the petitioner would also place reliance on the definition of 'Geographical Indication' as per section 2 (e) and contended that the Geographical Indication is in relation to goods originating or manufactured in the territory of country or a region or locality in that territory. The learned counsel would also place reliance on section 2 (g) relating to 'Indication' which includes any name, geographical area or figurative representation suggesting the geographical origin of goods to which it applies.
4. Mr. P.Sanjay Gandhi, learned counsel for the petitioner would also bring to the notice of this Bench relating to the objects and reasons of introduction of the Geographical Indication of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 and point out the objects and reasons contained in the introduction and as well as the statement. It is contended that in respect of the Geographical Indications, the dispute relates to inter parties. There is always the issue of public interest and as such the interest of producers by covering the entire area of production should be taken into consideration. The learned counsel would further contend that the farmers of Madhya Pradesh have been growing Basmati rice for several decades and the society came to know about the pending dispute only at the appellate stage while the present appeals have been preferred before this Bench and accordingly they have decided to implead themselves with a view to protect the interest of the farmers of the Madhya Pradesh State. The learned counsel would submit that the proposed respondent viz. petitioner herein is a just and necessary party for appropriate adjudication of this matter and no prejudice would be caused to the appellant by impleading petitioner as one of the respondents.
5. The learned counsel appearing for the first respondent has no objection for allowing impleading petition filed by the petitioner.
6. Per contra Ms. Gladys Daniel, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant would vehemently contend that the petition for impleading itself is not maintainable as there is no specific provision either under the Act or under the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (Procedure) Rules, 2003. The learned counsel would point out that there is a provision under rule 15 of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (Procedure) Rules 2003 in respect of the interference of third parties in respect of the registered trade mark. It is contended that only in a rectification proceeding the party can approach the Board for impleading themselves. Therefore, it is contended that in the absence of any specific rules or prescribed forms under the statute, the proposed respondent has no locus standi to approach this Board for impleading. It is further contended the present appeal is preferred against the order passed in the opposition proceedings initiated before the Registrar of Geographical Indications, Chennai. In support of her contention, the learned counsel would place reliance on the decisions viz., (1) Hon’ble Supreme Court Judgement -- 2012 (50) PTC 225 (SC) – Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. vs. Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd. (2) IPAB Order -- 2013(55)PTC 247(IPAB) – Shreedhar Milk Foods Pvt. Ltd. vs. Vikas Tyagi & Anr.
7. We have given our careful and anxious consideration to the rival contentions put forward by either side and also perused the Miscellaneous Petition filed for impleading and the counter.
8. At the outset it is to be stated that the first respondent in the original appeal has generously and magnanimously submitted that they have no objection for impleading the proposed petitioner viz. the petitioner herein. However, the appellant filed a counter statement strongly objecting for impleading the proposed respondent viz. the petitioner herein mainly on the ground that there is no specific provision under the statute for filing impleading petition in a matter arising out of the opposition proceedings of the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
9. Ms. Gladys Daniel, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant would contend that the impleading petition may be filed in a rectification proceeding and not in an appeal filed against the opposition proceedings initiated before the Registrar of Geographical Indications. On the other hand Mr. P. Sanjay Gandhi, learned counsel appearing for the proposed respondent would contend that the petitioner /proposed respondent is having locus standi to be impleaded as one of the respondents in these appeals as the proposed respondent is a society registered and established with the object of organizing awareness programme related to agriculture, agricultural development and education. The learned counsel would also point out that they have decided to implead in these appeals with a view to protect the interest of the farmers more particularly Basmathi growers in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
10. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant mainly placed reliance on Rule 15 of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (Procedure) Rules, 2003 in respect of intervention by third party only in respect of rectification proceedings and not in respect of proceedings arising out of an appeal filed against the opposition proceedings initiated before the Registrar of Geographical Indications. We are unable to countenance the said contention of the learned counsel for the appellant for the simple reason that the appellant having admitted that the impleading petition can be filed in a rectification proceeding, there is no reason to deny the said remedy for an interested person to a proceeding to implead in an appeal filed against the opposition proceedings. It is pertinent to note that in many matters the aggrieved party who has not initiated the opposition proceedings either before the Registrar of Trade Marks or before the Controller of Patents had a remedy to file application for rectification. There is no justification to place reliance on the provision under Rule 15 enabling an interested person to intervene only in respect of the rectification proceedings initiated against the impugned trade mark to deny the right of interested person in respect of Geographical Indications to intervene in respect of the proceedings initiated in the instant case. We are also constrained to state that Rule 15 is only in respect of a registered trade mark and the same is nothing to do with the Geographical Indications and as such the Intellectual Property Appellate Board is well within the power under section 92 of the Trade Marks Act to protect the right of the interested person by allowing such person to implead in a proceeding relating to Geographical Indications keeping in view of the principles of natural justice. It is pertinent to note that Geographical Indication as per definition under section 2(e) of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) is having wide scope in respect of the goods as originating or manufactured in the territory of country or region or a locality in the territory. The fact remains that there is no separate rule framed for Geographical Indications of Goods. It is to be reiterated that under section 92 of Trade Marks Act, the IPAB Bench can adopt and formulate its own procedure guided by the principles of natural justice. As a matter of fact a larger Bench of this Board in Order No.147 of 2013 – Mr. A.D. Padmasingh Issac, Trading Aachi Spices & Foods vs. S.D. Murali, Trading as The Achi International & Anr.-- has held that even in the absence of any specific provision in the Act, this Board is having power to review an order and such being the position, there is no justification for preventing the petitioner herein to be impleaded as one of the respondents more particularly the petitioner is a society having the object of public interest specifically in respect of agricultural growers of Basmathi Rice in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
11. The decisions relied by the learned counsel for the appellant in Hon’ble Supreme Court Judgement – 2012(50) PTC 225 (SC) – Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. Vs. Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd. is only in respect of powers of the Copyright Board for passing interim orders. The said decision is not applicable to the issue involved in the instant case. Similarly the second decision relied by the petitioner rendered by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board larger Bench in IPAB Order – 2013 (55) PTC 247 (IPAB) – Shreedhar Milk Foods Pvt. Ltd., vs. Vikas Tyagi & Anr. is also in relation to grant
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ing the interim orders by the IPAB Bench and the Bench has held that the Intellectual Property Appellate Board has the power to pass interim orders and laid down guide lines for the manner in which the said power to be exercised. 12. In view of the above said reasons we are of the considered view that the proposed respondent viz. the petitioner herein is a just and necessary party in the present proceedings more particularly in appeal No.OA/5/2014/GI/CH. Accordingly, the Miscellaneous Petition No.13/2014 is allowed and the petitioner viz. New Darpan Social Welfare Society is hereby impleaded as third respondent in OA/5/2014/GI/CH. Mr. P. Sanjay Gandhi, the learned counsel appearing for the proposed respondent undertakes to file counter in the main appeal within four weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order. The Registry is directed to include the petitioner herein as the third respondent in the cause title. The appellant shall serve the copies of the appeal and other pleadings and documents to the impleaded third respondent herein within a period of four weeks.