Mumbai: The new controller general of India’s patents, designs and trademarks office, P.H. Kurian, has transferred at least 22 officers in its four regional offices. It is the first time in at least a decade that transfers have taken place on this scale.
Kurian, the first Indian Administrative Service officer to head the patents office, said on Tuesday that the transfers were aimed at a more equitable distribution of skilled officers and group leaders at the right places.
According to his office, at least eight senior officials in the trademarks cell and 14 from the patents cell have been transferred to different locations. While the trademarks transfers are with immediate effect, an official list of patents officials, which include assistant controllers and patent examiners, is yet to be made public.
Last year, three senior trademarks officials were caught accepting bribes, two in Chennai by the anti-corruption bureau, and one in Kolkata by the Central Bureau of Investigation. A November Mint investigation had pointed at a nexus between companies, law firms representing corporate applicants and patents officials.
However, the transfers have drawn criticism from within the office on the grounds that some of the officials are wrong targets. “This will demoralize people who are diligent and were never involved in corrupt practices,” an examiner in the Mumbai patents cell said on condition of anonymity.
Among the more senior names on the list in the trademarks cell are Amar Prakash and D.S. Bansod, both deputy registrars of trademarks; G.L. Verma, assistant registrar of trademarks; V. Natarajan, assistant registrar of geographical indications; and R.A. Tiwari, senior examiner of trademarks. All of them report directly to Kurian.
The patents, designs and trademarks office, established in 1980, gained prominence after India joined the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights regime under the World Trade Organization in 2005. In that year, it granted at least 4,320 patents, which went up to 15,262 in 2008, driven largely by drug, food and agrochemical products.