India remains the fastest growing economy notwithstanding the predicted contraction due to demonitisation last November. This fact was also recognized in the recent elections in five states, where BJP was a winner in four states. The party at the centre, BJP was able to secure the mandate in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh defying all negative notions about the effect of demonitisation. BJP also won in Uttarakhand. Not only that, the BJP was able to form a coalition led government in two other states. The government took further initiatives with an aim to improve ease of doing business including amending the Trademarks rules.

Fastest growing economyIndia defied expectations today to remain the world’s fastest growing major economy, despite the notes ban and its aftershock. GDP or gross domestic product growth however fell to 7 per cent in the October-December quarter, from 7.4 in the previous quarter. “There was just a temporary impact of demonetisation, which is over now. There was an overestimation about the effect of demonetisation by some. It is satisfying to note that this was not true. We still remain a 7 per cent-plus GDP country,” said Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das. The central statistics office (CSO) has retained its growth forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2017 at 7.1 per cent. The December quarter GDP beat the estimates of economists; analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 6.4 per cent growth for the October-December period. The CSO’s forecast for the year is higher than that of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has revised its estimate down for India’s growth in the year ending March 31, 2017, to 6.6 per cent from 7.6 per cent earlier. But the IMF expects India’s economic growth to rebound to 7.2 per cent in 2017-18.

There was skepticism amongst analysts and economists. Pessimistic forecasts from analysts and economists leaned on evidence such as the sharp fall in December purchasing managers index (PMI) to less than 50, which indicates a decline in output. Also, car sales slumped and factory output contracted 0.4% in December.

The GDP estimates significantly overshoot the expected figures and that’s why I feel that the overall impact of demonetisation has still not been factored into these estimates. I expect the impact of demonetisation to linger on for at least another quarter or so, and based on that, I feel that the final GDP numbers would be significantly lower,” said Upasna Bhardwaj, senior economist at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

The GDP numbers do not adequately capture the output of the informal sector. So it (Q3 GDP growth) appears to be on the higher side. There is a strong likelihood that the numbers may be revised down later,” said Rupa Rege Nitsure, the Group Chief Economist at L&T Finance Holdings.

New Trade Marks Rules – The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Central Government has issued the Trade Marks Rules 2017 in supersession of and to replace the Trade Marks Rules, 2002. This is expected to help expedite the approval process and increase filings, both of which have shown positive trends over the past few months. New trademark rules with simplified processes, fewer forms and online filing will substantially improve the ease of doing business on this front.

The change which is foremost in improving ease of doing business is that the number of forms that an applicant had to fill out, has been reduced from a staggering 74 to a more reasonable eight. This had been a major hurdle for applicants and had come out during the government’s meeting with various stakeholders who warned that it deterred first time applicants. Further, To boost ease of doing business, the method to determinate well-known trademarks has been clarified for the first time. Also, provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trademark have been extended right up to the registration stage. It was only up to the examination stage.

The steps for service of documents from applicants to the registry and vice versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process. Also, email has been made an essential part of address for service to be provided by the applicant or any party to the proceedings so that an office communication can be emailed. To promote e-filing of applications, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10 per cent lower than that for physical filing. Overall fees have been rationalised by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.

Posted by Sourish Mohan Mitra

Sourish Mohan Mitra is an India-qualified lawyer from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and currently working as an in-house counsel with a global research firm in Delhi, India; views expressed are personal; he can be reached at sourish24x7@gmail.com; Twitter: @sourish247

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