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India working towards disposing pending patent applications in the next two years

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Minister for Commerce and Industry, under which the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) functions, has been taking several initiatives for substantive improvement of IP environment in India. The recent initiatives include comprehensive National IPR policy, relocation of Copyright Office to DIPP, merger of the Copyright Board with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), establishment of Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) and launch of Start-up Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) scheme, among others.

Adding to the above initiatives, the office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM) is making efforts to clear the backlog of about 2.3 lakh pending patent applications. DIPP has hired substantial number of examiners and is likely to dispose these pending applications in next two years. The introduction of expedited examination and the recruitment of around 450 patent examiners to add to the pool of existing 130 examiners at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is witness to such efforts of the DIPP. This recruitment has increased the speedy disposal of pending patent applications. In the year 2016-17, about 9,847 patents were granted by the IPO, as against 6,326 in the previous year. IPO has improved its count in issuance of examination reports, which has increased to 6,000 patent applications a month from the earlier 1,500 applications.

Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Commerce and Industry, while addressing the Leadership Summit on Anti-Counterfeiting and Brand Protection at New Delhi last month, highlighted the efforts and initiatives of DIPP and IPO to dispose off the pending applications at the earliest. He announced that the Ministry is working to come up with an effective plan by which patent applications will be disposed in the least possible time. These initiatives are expected to bring down the pendency of patent applications and targeted at final disposal of patent applications from the present 5-7 years to less than 18 months.

We welcome the initiatives and efforts of the ministry in establishing a strong IP regime, and more importantly a time bound one, which is likely to boost innovation in the country.

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How soon after filing a patent application in India, will it be examined?

It has been a common misconception that, a patent application is queued for examination after it is filed at the Indian Patent Office (IPO). In India, filing a patent application does not essentially mean that an Applicant for the patent is requesting the IPO to examine his patent application. In fact, the Applicant can refrain from filing a request for examining his application up to 48 months from the filing date of the Indian patent application. It shall be noted that, if the Indian patent application is claiming priority from a corresponding patent application filed in a convention country or a PCT application, then the 48 month duration is calculated from the priority date of the Indian patent application.

In light of the above discussion, it is certain that, unless a request for examination is filed, the patent application will not be queued for examination. Having said that, by no means are we saying that just because an examination request has been filed, the patent application will be queued for examination. A second criterion has to be satisfied as well for the application to be queued for examination, and the second criterion is publication of the patent application. The patent application is published after 18 months from the date of filing the Indian patent application, unless an early publication request is filed. In case an early publication request is filed, then the patent application is normally published within 1 month from the date of filing such a request.
We can summarize the above content by mentioning that, a patent application will be queued for examination after both the below listed criteria are satisfied:
  • A request for examination of the patent application has been made
  • The patent application has been published
In case the Indian patent application is a national phase application, than the Indian patent application will be queued for examination after all the three below listed criteria are satisfied:
  • A request for examination of the patent application has been made
  • The patent application has been published
  • 31 months has passed from the priority date of the Indian patent application, unless “express” request for examination is filed       
The Indian patent office has introduced a expedited examination of patent applications, which is applicable if certain criteria is met. You can read more about this in our article.
 
The above mentioned are the criteria for the patent application to be queued for examination. Once queued, it can take a considerable amount of time, at least 2 years, to receive an examination report from the IPO. The current lot of patent applications, as per the year it was queued for examination, which are being issued examination reports, can be found here 
 
In order to expedite the patenting process in India, it is advisable to satisfy the above listed criteria as soon as possible.
 
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Team InvnTree

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