Patent office struggling to clear over one lakh pending applications

With the Indian Patent Office finding it difficult to retain patent examiners on Government pay-scales, a move is underway to increase remuneration by introducing an incentive scheme.

The Indian Patent Office, with less than 100 patent examiners, is struggling to clear a backlog of over one lakh pending applications.

“Of the 250 candidates that were chosen in the last recruitment process, only 150 joined as patent examiners. Of these, about 30 have already quit for greener pastures and more may follow,” a DIPP official told Business Line. The wide difference between the salary offered by the Government and that offered by the private sector, that includes legal firms handling patent cases, is the main reason for examiners quitting.

To retain examiners, the DIPP has suggested that the Flexible Complementing Scheme be extended to patent examiners, an incentive mechanism applied to scientific staff in the Union Government.

Under this scheme, fast promotions are given to meritorious employees making them eligible for higher pay scales without waiting for vacancies. However, there is a problem with the proposal as the scheme is only applicable for scientists.

“After several rounds of talks with the Ministry of Science and Technology, we have finally managed to get its consent,” the official said.

However, for the move to be implemented, a final nod has to come from the Department of Revenue, which holds the purse-strings.

“We hope the Finance Ministry would agree to our proposal as the Patent Office is really struggling to deal with the pile of pending patent applications,” the official said.

While training is underway for 150 examiners, most of them holding a master’s degree in engineering or the sciences, the Patent Office needs many more. Chaitanya Prasad, Controller General of Patents and Trademarks, in an earlier interaction with the media, said that his office hopes to recruit 500 patent examiners over the next four-five years.

The patent office currently takes three to five years to clear applications which can come down to one year once the required number of examiners are in place, he added.

India received 43,000 patent applications, 8,300 applications for design innovation and 1,94,000 trademark applications in 2012-13.

(This article was published on May 11, 2014)
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