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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  RTI: Delhi high court admits PIL over patent office’s disclosure policy

Mumbai: The Delhi high court on Wednesday admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) that wants India’s patents office to follow the over-arching Right to Information (RTI) Act in order to make its information disclosure system more transparent and easily accessible to the public.

“It is an important issue and deserves consideration," said chief justice G. Rohini about the petition that claims the disclosure policy followed by the patents office flouts the RTI Act.

The PIL, filed by a group of lawyers, argued that the Office of Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks, which deals with crucial market monopoly decisions, often denies vital information of relevance to the public by invoking provisions in the Patents Act.

The court sent a notice to the Union government asking it to respond by 29 August, when the case will be next heard.

The petition alleged that the patents office has been following rules laid out in the Patents Act in order to block key information related to the working of patents. The department, exploiting provisions in the intellectual property (IP) law, also ignores the time frame stipulated by the RTI Act for disseminating information and charges a much higher fee for disclosures, it alleged.

This is despite the fact that the RTI Act trumps all other information dispensation mechanisms under other specific legislation, including the Patents Act, the PIL claimed. ​

The lawyers group led by Shamnad Basheer, former IP chair at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata and founder of intellectual property blog Spicy IP, was represented by Salman Khurshid, senior advocate and former minister for law and justice.

“A patent is a 20-year monopoly and this monopoly is granted on the promise that the public would benefit through the patent information submitted by the patentee. Transparency and disclosure of patent information therefore lie at the heart of the patent regime," said Basheer. ​

Patent information is vital and it should be made available in an easy and affordable manner to the public, he added.

The patents office argued that it has its own specific legislation governing the dissemination of information to the public, and therefore the RTI Act does not apply.

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Updated: 07 Aug 2014, 12:50 AM IST
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