Centre to escalate the process of clearing patent backlogs

In yet another spate of reforms towards expediting patent applications pending with the Patent Office, the government plans to reduce the time taken to examine patent applications. This was welcome news received from the Secretary of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). DIPP is the nodal agency for most Intellectual Property issues including patents.

Currently, it takes somewhere between 5-7 years for the issuance of a First Examination Report (FER) in any patent application. As per Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, (DIPP), the government is aiming to slash this time period down to 18 months. He was quoted saying that the target timeline to effect said change has been observed to be March 2018.

As per Abhishek, the Government is committed to setting a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and an annual benchmark to bring down the backlog.

The initiative has already picked up momentum in an attempt towards streamlining the process and to reduce the pendency at the Patent Offices. Mr. Abhishek attributed the pendency to the shortage of manpower and hence to remedy this, the Government, in addition to the existing strength of 130 Examiners for Patents and Designs, has recently hired 458 new Examiners. Another 263 Examiners are soon to be recruited on a contract basis. There has also begun an automatic allotment and electronic dispatch of the FERs.

He also articulated that a panel has been constituted to give a report on patentability of computer-related inventions after April 30 and that the Patent rules are being amended for a fast-track examination for patents by start-ups. The government has also appointed a panel of around 80 lawyers to ensure free consultation to start-ups.

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IPO RATIONALIZES FER ALLOTMENT AND DISPATCH SYSTEM

The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDM) has issued a notification on 31st March, 2016 which does away with the issuance of a physical copy of a First Examination Reports (FERs). The FERs shall now be sent electronically only and shall be available on the IPO website against the concerned application number.

The notification also enforced an auto-allotment of patent applications among the Indian Examiners across the four patent Offices (Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai) which has come into effect from April 1, 2016.