Mumbai: India’s department of industrial policy and promotions (DIPP) has, after three years, invited fresh applications to fill posts of patent examiners at the country’s intellectual property (IP) office in a move that could improve the efficiency of the office—in terms of both quality and quantity.
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The move came after criticism by companies, analysts and the media that the IP office is overloaded with work and that the combination of a small team of examiners and too much work often leads to compromises on the quality of patents granted.
“The new recruitment process was actually expedited by the department in the wake of growing criticism and news reports highlighting the severe people crunch and the possible impact on the quality of work,” said a senior official at DIPP who did not wish to be identified.
On Monday, the department, part of the commerce ministry, invited applications from science graduates in different disciplines to fill up 257 posts of patent examiners on the basis of a competitive examination that will be conducted as early as January.
The process will be managed by the human resource development arm of the country’s premier scientific institution, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), through a special agreement between CSIR and the office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.
Until now, such recruitements were handled by Education Consultants of India Ltd, a state-owned enterprise .
The proposal to recruit more patent examiners isn’t new; it was first made after India moved to an intellectual property rights regime in 2005, a move that saw a rise in the number of patent applications, especially from multinational companies.
It soon ran into bureaucratic hurdles.
Meanwhile the increase in applications meant more work for existing patent examiners. Quality suffered, say some analysts, and some examiners even left.
Based on a comparative analysis of international patent offices, Mint reported earlier this month that India’s patent examiners have the highest workload: They examined at least 20 patent applications a month since 2008 compared with less than 10 by their counterparts in other countries.
In 2008, 47 examiners were promoted to the post of controllers. And their replacements weren’t hired.
Currently, around 70 patent examiners are on the rolls of the Indian patent office. Current controller general P.H. Kurian tried to get the controllers to examine patents, but he had to abandon the move after they protested.
“We expect the competitive examination results to be out by February and the first batch of the new recruits to be at work by July after their training,” said Kurian.
The recruits will be trained at the newly created National Institute for Intellectual Property Management in Nagpur.