Mumbai: India’s patents office is changing the process of examining applications, a move aimed at resolving issues of favouritism, an official said.
Currently, controllers in charge of Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai regional offices can assign specific applications to examiners of their choice. The new process would do away with this.
“All the four offices of the department will now onwards work in coordination with the controller general’s office as far as the job allocation in regard to patent examination and granting process are concerned,” said the official at the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. He declined to be named as an order is yet to be released.
A Mint article of 7 October reported—without pointing to any specific wrongdoing in patents being granted—that activists seeking transparency in the process and a report by an Austrian government entity point to a nexus between officials and private law firms. That may indicate conflict of interest and favouritism in the process.
The official said there have been instances where an applicant requested that a preferred patent examiner be assigned to verify the application’s claims. A centralized monitoring system will end such practices, he said.
The patents office has established an integrated IT platform that connects all its offices. “But this IT infrastructure, which offers a completely transparent and error-free patent granting system, is not fully explored in the department at present.”
Examination reports and recommendations on applications are not made publicly available. A patent gives its inventor a 15-20 year monopoly to recover investments and protect commercial interests.
The official said entry of unauthorized people would also be restricted. In a 17 March circular, the newly-appointed controller general P.H. Kurianhas said only authorized patent agents with photo ID cards would be allowed limited access.