Innovation usually starts with a patent—a right granted to anyone who invents a new, useful and non-obvious process. The government is taking a hard look at revamping the country’s patent office. That’s all the more important for driving the Make-in-India initiative. But for that it has to ensure that our patent laws are in sync with that of the US. All along, India has been arguing that its patent protection laws are in keeping with WTO norms and are aimed at preventing ever-greening of patents that MNC pharma firms indulge in. While that could be work in progress, according to a report in The Indian Express, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is all set to reduce the time for approving a patent application from the current 5-6 years to 15 months, and for trademark applications from 13 months to just one month.
To achieve that, the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks (CGPDT) has hired 459 additional patent examiners. That’s important as there were 2,26,339 patent applications pending as of July 31 this year. On an average, around 43,000 patent applications are filed annually. After accounting for those that are withdrawn, around 38,000 patent applications need to be examined. With the additional staff, CGPDT will be in a position to handle 60,000 applications soon and close to 1 lakh applications in the next 2-3 years. To ease the process, the patent office also plans to do away with the charge levied for withdrawing a patent application. With around 15% of the applications getting withdrawn, that too will ease the processing of patents. Once that happens, the stage is well set for local entrepreneurs to get their own patents quickly.