In order to streamline the patent regime, the government has modified rules by offering an option of ‘Tatkal’ for expeditious clearance of applications by start-ups or those entities that opt for India as a place for first filing of patent.
The government also plans to significantly cut down the time period for grant of patents to two and a half years immediately and one and a half years by March 2018, from the existing 5-7 years.
As per the modified patent rules, entities can choose the fast clearance route for obtaining patent by paying additional fees if they select India as International Search Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authorities and file their applications in India first.
“The move is aimed at popularising India as a patent filing hub so that more companies file applications in India,” said Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, DIPP. He said benefits of modified rules will be available only to new applicants.
Also start-ups which meet the prescribed criteria can use the Tatkal route for getting faster clearance of their patent applications.
The fees for start-ups will be same as individuals and not as companies, Aggarwal clarified.
Under the faster clearance route, 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.
Under normal circumstances, initial patent filing cost ranges between Rs 1,600 and Rs 8,800.
To clear the backlog of patent applications, the revised rules provide for refund of fees in the case of withdrawal of an application. As many as 2.37 lakh patent applications are pending with the government.
The rules provide for full refund of patent application fees and refund of 90 per cent of the fee paid for ‘request for examination (RQ)’. The RQ fees in general range between Rs 4,000 to Rs 60,000 and could go up 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.
Citing Japan where the patent withdrawal rate is about 15 per cent, he said about 10 per cent of the pending applications could be withdrawn because of this modification.
The department is also working towards completing within 18 months the process between RQ and the first examination. Thereafter, within 12 months, the patent would be granted.
“We are asking the applicant to give their responses within 6 months after the first examination is completed. This will leave us some time to decide on it and grant the patent,” Aggarwal said.
The government last week announced a comprehensive National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy, in a move to incentivise entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and curb manufacturing and sale of counterfeits.