Mumbai: India’s patents authority is set to launch a Rs320 crore, five-year plan to improve staffing and the quality of patent examinations at the country’s four patent and trademark offices, said a senior official of the department of industrial policy and promotion, or DIPP.
To tackle the flight of trained personnel to private institutions, the authority may introduce a flexible, appraisal-based career plan for patent examiners, linking promotions and salary increases to performance, said the official, who did not want to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media.
The plan includes establishing an academic institution to groom experts in intellectual property rights and serve as a think tank for the patent department. The National Institute of Intellectual Property Management will be set up in Nagpur.
The plan would also seek to enhance access to global patent databases, the same official added.
N.N. Prasad, joint secretary at DIPP, told an industry forum recently that the cabinet had approved a second modernization plan that would be launched soon. DIPP oversees matters related to Indian intellectual property protection and related services.
In the first phase of modernization, which was launched in 2000, infrastructure and technology at the four patent and trademarks offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai were upgraded. An information technology network connecting the four patent offices was anticipated in the first phase, but it is yet to be completed.
“The flexi-career scheme looks like a step towards better treatment of skilled people, but we don’t think it will help arrest the talent exodus as the government can never match salaries paid by the private sector,” said an official with one of the four patent offices, also seeking anonymity.
Mint had reported in July that the already understaffed patent offices had lost 25-30% of their examiners over the past four years as private companies, looking to strengthen their intellectual property capabilities, enticed them with the promise of better work environment and higher salaries.
The department of patents and designs has lost 35 people in the past four years. It now has 120 patent examiners and 70 vacancies.
Meanwhile, the number of patent applications filed in the four offices has increased 300% since 2004 and patent grants have risen 150%.