New Delhi: The Union government is ramping up its intellectual property (IP) infrastructure by setting up a new research institute that will play the role of a policy think tank, increasing its IP personnel fivefold, and putting all their regulatory processes online.
India’s patent offices and registries for trademarks, designs and geographical indications (GIs) have seen a huge surge in applications as companies and individuals start filing for IP protection more aggressively than ever before.
A switch in the patent regime since 1 January 2005 from process patents to one that awards patents to products has futher spurred the rush.
“We are setting up a National Institute of Intellectual Property Management in Nagpur that will not only train our patent and trademark officials and conduct courses for attorneys, but be the first-of-its-kind IP research body in India. The think tank will also provide policy inputs to the government, something that nobody does right now,” said a senior official in the government’s department of industrial policy and promotion. He did not want to be identified.
Modelled on the Max Planck Institute of Intellectual Property in Munich, the Nagpur centre will need roughly Rs100 crore as investment and will come up next year. The details of the proposal are still being worked on.
Patent applications alone have increased by almost three times in the last decade to 24,505 in 2005-06. This represented a 40% increase from the previous year. The bulk of the applications were for trademarks, up 8.5% over the previous years. The other two segments—designs and GIs—are also catching up.
“Applications are going up and that is exerting a lot of pressure on the current structure. Besides investing in physical infrastructure and large-scale computerization, we will be ramping up the workforce by five times,” added the official, who declined to attach a timeframe for such massive recruitment.
Beefing up the IP infrastructure will also help usher in transparency. “I can track all my cases in Canada, Australia, the US, the EU and can view every detail of the case, its status and clarifications sought by examiners, unlike in India,” says Pratibha Singh, a patent attorney who finds the Indian systems pretty opaque.
Computerization and putting all the operations online are high on the government’s agenda and likely to be done this year.
“All the four verticals of IP will go completely online this year. The trials are going on right now,” said the official. A sum of Rs150 crore has been spent over the last five years on this project.
Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have a patent office each. The design administration is being done from Kolkata’s patent office and the GI registry is in Chennai. The five trademark registries are present in all the four big cities and in Ahmedabad.