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eac pm: Manpower shortage, cumbersome compliance requirements affecting Indian patent ecosystem: EAC-PM paper

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NEW DELHI: The major cause of delay in addressing the concerns in the patenting and trademark system in India is the shortage of manpower coupled with some cumbersome compliance requirements, according to a working paper of the Economic Advisory Council to PM (EAC-PM).
The paper titled ‘Why India Needs To Urgently Invest in its Patent Ecosystem?’ pointed out that despite the fact that the number of patents filed and granted have increased in India in recent years, they are much lower when compared to the global peers like US and China.

“To address the concerns in the patenting and trademark system, the first and most important step is to hire more manpower in the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks,” the paper said.

It said only 860 people were employed in the patent office in India at the end of March 2022, including both examiners and controllers, as compared to 13,704 in China and 8,132 in US.
The average time taken for disposing of a patent application in China and US is 20- 21 months — almost one-third of the time taken in India, the paper said. Approximately 1.64 lakh applications were pending at the controller level as on March 31, 2022.

According to the paper authored by Sanjeev Sanyal and Akanksha Arora, as a rough guidance, the manpower in patent office needs to be increased from about 860 currently to 2,800 in the next two years.

The Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks is currently a subordinate office of the Ministry of Commerce and there is a need to provide more autonomy to the office by providing more financial and staffing flexibility, it added.

The paper also said there is no fixed timeline for filing an opposition against any patent application, leading to delays.

“There are some cumbersome compliance requirements like submitting information pertaining to processing of foreign patent applications which is not important now in case of PCT applications, as India is a member of WIPO Centralized Access to Search and Examination where consolidated information related to status of PCT applications in large number of jurisdictions is already available,” it said.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 193 member states.

While noting that there has been an increase in the number of patent applications, from 45,444 in 2016-17 to 66,440 in 2021-2, and the patents granted in India have also gone up from 9,847 to 30,074 during the same period, the paper said India lags behind its global peers.

“In 2020, the number of patents filed in India was 56,771, merely 4 percent of China where 14.97 lakh applications were filed and 9.5 percent of US where 5.97 lakh applications were filed in the same year.

“Similarly, the patents granted in India were 26,361 as compared to 5.3 lakh in China and 3.5 lakh in US,” it pointed out. Moreover, according to the paper, in India, it takes about 58 months on average to dispose of a patent application as compared to about 20 months in China and 23 months in the US.

The paper emphasised that an evolved intellectual property rights regime is the basic requirement for a knowledge-based economy.

Technological innovation and scientific research require a robust patenting system, it noted.

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