The government plans to reduce by half the timeframe for publishing the first examination report (FER)-a crucial document detailing the objections and requirements after an application for a patent is filed with the authorities. Failure to respond to it within the stipulated timeframe leads to the abandonment of the patent application.
"Our patent laws have changed but our technology and workforce has not kept pace with the changing requirements," the official said, adding that Indian authorities have started work to bring the system on a par with those in developed nations like the US, Japan and the EU.
According to data provided by the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the Indian Patent Office takes 24-48 months to issue an FER in areas such as chemistry, biotechnology, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. In comparison, the patent offices in the US and Japan take about 25 months while that of the EU takes 22 months. South Korea is among the quickest with a timeframe of 10 months.
A reduction in the time taken for issuing an FER will in turn cut the time taken for granting patents, which in India is between three and five years. Patent lawyers say that trained patent examiners are the key to a well-oiled patent clearing mechanism. Every year, Indian authorities scrutinise about 40,000 patent applications, which is growing at about 11%.
Before the hiring, the patent office had about 90 examiners. As per industry estimates, the country needs at least three times the current workforce to clear the backlog of about 80,000 filings.
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