26 Sep 2014

1,000 backlog beaters for Indian patent office

The backlog of patent applications in India will be cleared within 18 months, the Government has vowed.

India is looking to clear its patent applications backlog Banana Republic

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also promised a revamped IP rights policy – full details of which will be announced by New Year, when public comment will be invited - and the introduction of a think-tank on global IP issues. As part of the overhaul, a further 1,000 officials are being hired for India’s patent offices, to shift a backlog which is said to involve nearly 200,000 cases. The country’s patent administration has judged on only one-third of the applications brought before it in the last seven years. Counterfeiting has been rampant – the International Chamber of Commerce estimates that the sale of copied goods in the country had resulted in losses of $12 billion to rights holders in 2013.

Cautious welcome

Patent lawyers in the country have given the news a cautious welcome. Rahul Dev, Partner and Patent Attorney at Tech Corp Legal, says he would like to see a time-bound execution plan, as a previous push to increase the strength of the patent office was so prolonged that it had little impact, due to the huge number of patent applications that were filed during the same duration.

Strategic move

Mr Dev believes this is a strategic move ahead of Mr Modi’s scheduled visit to the United States.  "Earlier this year, for the second consecutive time, India was ranked at the bottom of 25 countries in terms of protection and enforcement of intellectual property practices, in a report published by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the US Chamber of Commerce” he says. American business groups have called for India to be subject to economic sanctions. Washington declined, but has indicated that it will be scrutinising the new Modi administration closely on this issue.