In a significant legal development, the case of Ramya S. Moorthy v. Registrar of Trade Marks before the Hon’ble Madras High Court, has garnered attention to a crucial issue within trademark law. This case, while dealing with two writ petitions, discussed the critical question of when an applicant for trademark registration officially receives a notice of opposition, as stipulated by Section 21(2) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The dispute arose when the Petitioner’s two trademark applications in separate classes were declared abandoned due to ambiguity regarding the exact moment of receipt of the notice.
The legal counsel for the Petitioner argued that Section 21(2) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999 unambiguously specifies that the period for responding to a notice of opposition begins only when the applicant receives the notice of opposition. The Petitioner asserted that they did not receive the notice of opposition in dispute and hence could not file the Counterstatement in the prescribed time. The Petitioner also argued that the Trade Mark Registry's reliance on a document indicating the transmission of the opposition notice to the agent of the applicant on January 19, 2023, is not tenable as it did not provide sufficient evidence that the applicant received the opposition notice.
The Respondents based his contentions on Rules 17 and 18 of the Trademarks Rules, 2017.The Respondents argued that notice of opposition could be lawfully served via email to the applicant's provided address. They emphasized that, according to these rules, once an email has been sent, it qualifies as proper service.The Respondents' referenced a specific document as proof that the opposition notice was successfully transmitted to the applicant on January 19, 2023. Based on the aforementioned rules and the evidence of successful email transmission, the Respondents contended that they had effectively served the applicant/Petitioner with the notice of opposition. Hence, they argued that the deadline for responding to the opposition notice had commenced, per Section 21(2) of the Trademarks Act, 1999.
In this case, the Court emphasized the paramount significance of safeguarding an applicant's substantive rights and fairness in trademark registration proceedings. The Trademarks Act was affirmed by the Court's ruling that the period for responding to a notice of opposition begins upon the applicant's actual receipt of the notice, even if sent via e-mail. This decision reaffirms the principle that trademark registration procedures must prioritize protecting the rights of applicants, assuring equity and justice.
 Ramya S. Moorthy v. Registrar of Trade Marks and Another, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 5305.