Missing of trademark registration file from TMR office
In the course of ongoing legal battle between Haldiram (India) Pvt. Ltd of Delhi and a Kolkata based company “Haldiram Bhujiwala”, a sensational information was revealed. The petitioner Haldiram (India) Pvt. Ltd, requested “Trade Mark Registration Office” (TMR Office) to provide them two sets of certified copies related to registration of trademark no. 285062 from. The registrar of the office informed the petitioner that the said files were not traceable. The petitioner filed a case in Delhi court against “TMR” alleging that the files were deliberately misplaced, destroyed or hidden with the help of some dishonest “TMR” officials.
Justice S Muralidhar directed the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry to lodge an F.I.R and take an immediate step to find out the missing files. He also mentioned that the situation is alarming. TMR office filed an affidavit stating that 44,000 files (relating to the registration of trademarks) were lost from its five branches in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Chennai and the officials were not aware about the fact since 2006. TMR officials said that these files were missing at the time of moving it from Mumbai to other centers. It was embarrassing to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The missing of enormous files created a shockwave throughout the country. The TMR officials and the concerned ministry could not avoid their responsibilities just filing an affidavit. Various legal organizations and the trademark owners demanded stern action against the culprits.
Under the pressure of various circles, Ministry of Commerce and Industry asked the concerned department to take stern action against the officials who are responsible for the negligence. DIPP constituted an investigation committee headed by Ms. Chandni Raina, Director of the DIPP. Ms Raina started an internal investigation to trace out the missing files and fix the responsibilities for negligence. Within few weeks, the office of the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks issued a notice claiming that the number of missing files are only 8183 that is only about 1% of total files related to registration.
DIPP informed Prashant Reddy, an eminent advocate on Intellectual Property Rights, in response to his queries under “Rights to Information Act, 2005”, no administrative or criminal action was taken against any staff of TMR was taken. Nobody was identified as responsible for missing files. However, DIPP assured the court that they would file FIR if they found any irregularities in the registration process of trademark. The investigation committee did not find anyone who was guilty in this matter. DIPP filed a FIR against unknown person for the missing files. It is another example of saving the corrupt officers by the ministry.
They also submitted a comprehensive action plan of record keeping. The following steps were taken by TMR to implement scientific record keeping.
• Preparation a list of all the live trademark files and keep the files serial and date wise to get easy access of the specific file.
• Preparation of branch wise missing files.
• Quarterly audit of all the trade mark registrations in all the trademark registry offices.
• Online registration of trademark will be mandatory from a specific cut-off date.
The positive side of the incident is that Trademark office has reconstructed most of the missing files within a short period.
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