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Justice Manmohan Singh assumes additional charge as Chairman of Intellectual Property Appellate Board

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has finally ceased to be headless as Justice (Retd.) Manmohan Singh has been given additional charge as the Chairman of the Tribunal. He assumed the charge from 1st January, 2018 in accordance with the order dated 29th December, 2017 of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion), Government of India, New Delhi.

Justice Manmohan Singh had been an Additional Judge of High Court of Delhi as appointed on 11th April, 2008. He retired from the High Court on 21st September 2016. Initially Justice Manmohan Singh had joined Shri Anoop Singh, Advocate practicing mostly on the original side in Trade Mark, Copy Right and Patent matters for about 9 years. After the demise of his senior in 1989 he had started independent practice on the original side dealing with Civil, Trade Mark and Copyright cases independently in the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India.

In the course of his judicial career he had delivered numerous landmark judgments under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Patents Act and the Copyright Act.

He had also been the Chairman of the Public Interest Litigation Committee, Member of the Committee for Appointment of Official of High Court and Member of the Building Maintenance & Construction Committee of Rohini Court Complex, and has immensely contributed for the well being of the institution.He had further joined the Appellate Tribunal for Forfeited Property (ATFP) in 2016 as the Chairman.

The IPAB had been without a Chairman for over a year after its last Chairman, Justice (Retd.) K.N. Basha retired on May 13, 2016. Since then, it had been reduced to a one-member body (with the posts of Vice-Chairman, Technical Member (Patents) also being vacant), headed by Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal, the Technical Member (Trademark), in the capacity of the Acting Chairman. Due to these unfilled vacancies and thus the lack of quorum for hearings, IPAB had been non-functional, causing a huge number of applications and appeals (nearly 50,000) to be pending before it.

Justice Manmohan Singh’s appointment has been made under the Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017 which derives its authority from the Finance Act, 2017.

There had been a lot of controversy regarding the appointment of Justice Manmohan Singh as the chairman over the rules that prescribed the setting up of a selection committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, two Secretaries to the government of India and two experts nominated by the Central Government.

It had been alleged that this committee was packed with members of the government with the judiciary having only nominal representation on the committee and hence such a setup was in complete violation of the criteria laid down in Shamnad Basheer v. Union of India.

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) was constituted on September 15, 2003 by the Indian Government to hear and resolve the appeals against the decisions of the registrar under the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. The headquarter of the IPAB is located in Chennai. IPAB also has sittings at Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

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