The government has amended patent rules to offer a ‘Tatkal’ option for speedy clearance of applications by start-ups or those that choose India as the destination for first filing of patent.
In an ambitious move, India is also planning to reduce the time frame for the grant of patents to two-and-a-half years immediately and one-and-a-half years by March 2018, from the current 5-7 years, as it attempts to be recognised as a serious player globally in protecting intellectual property rights.
Entities can now opt for expeditious clearance route to obtaining patent by paying additional fees if they choose India as the International Search Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authorities and file their applications in India first, said Rajiv Aggarwal, joint secretary with the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP).
“The move is aimed at popularising India as a patent filing hub so that more companies file applications in India,” Aggarwal added.
However, the only new applicants will be eligible for the benefits of the amended rules. Already, 2.37 lakh patent applications are pending with the government.
For speedy clearances, application fees for individuals and start-ups have been kept at Rs 8,000 while for companies, it could be as much as Rs 60,000. However, under normal circumstances, initial patent filing cost ranges between Rs 1,600 and Rs 8,800.
The amended rules suggest refund of fees in the case of withdrawal of an application. They provide for full refund of patent application fees and refund of 90% of the fee paid for ‘request for examination (RQ)’.
Usually, the RQ fees range between Rs 4,000 and Rs 60,000 and may rise, depending on the number of pages.
“The application fees have been waived and that will help unclog the queue as there are a lot of applicants who are not withdrawing despite knowing that the application is not commercially viable,” Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal said about 10% of the pending applications could be withdrawn because of this modification. He said the DIPP is in the process of completing the process between RQ and the first examination within 18 months and subsequently, within 12 months, the patents would be granted. Applicants will be asked to give their responses within six months after the first examination is completed so that the government will have some time to decide on it and grant the patent, Aggarwal said.
Last week, the government unveiled the national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy to focuss on issues like expediting approval processes involving patents or trademarks and consolidating institutional mechanisms to create a robust IPR eco-system.