Mumbai: Faced with criticism for a slow and not-so-efficient mechanism for recruiting patent examiners, India’s patent office is engaging the country’s largest public sector scientific research organization to step up the hiring. It plans to use the expertise of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, to recruit 260 patent examiners.
They will scrutinize applications filed by scientists, industrial houses and companies claiming new discoveries and inventions and seeking to maintain exclusive commercial rights for a maximum of 20 years. Since such rights effectively permit the monopoly of a product or service in the market, the skilful scrutiny of such scientific claims is essential.
India’s controller general of patents, designs and trade marks P.H. Kurian said in an interview last week that the department will soon sign a agreement with CSIR in this regard. “This is the first time in the history of the Indian patent office that it has decided to engage such a scientifically competent agency to recruit patent examiners,” he said.
CSIR will charge around Rs4 crore for the assignment.
The Office of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, which functions under the department of industrial policy and promotions of the commerce ministry, had thus far been depending on Central agencies such as the Union Public Service Commission and Educational Consultants India Ltd for recruitment.
CSIR has a dedicated recruitment assessment board to conduct evaluation tests and processes to select candidates for scientific posts.
Samir Brahmachari, director general, CSIR, said on Monday that his organization has agreed to take up the project. “The patent office had written to us a while ago seeking our expertise in this area, and our recruitment assessment board has already accepted the proposal,” he said.
“It’s a revolutionary step that the patent office has taken to find quality people for a key section of a department that actually needs high scientific expertise and analytical skill,” said an executive who heads the patent cell of a Mumbai-based multinational drug firm.
The country’s patent offices had to handle a flood of applications in the last four years as India introduced product patent regimes in food, agriculture and drugs—three sectors known for filing the most patents—in 2005. As there was a shortage of examiners, the offices were overloaded with work and the quality of patent examinations was also affected. Currently, there are only 70 patent examiners for the four patent offices in Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, against an estimated minimum requirement of 400.
“Engaging CSIR for the recruitment is a positive decision, and will hopefully fill the gap to a large extent with quality people in at least one year,” an assistant controller of patents based in New Delhi said over the phone on Monday.