Patent Process to Speeden up

The Central government has proposed a set of modifications in the existing patent rules, seeking to expedite the lengthy process of granting of patents in India.

The draft patent amendment rules, 2015, prepared by the Union Commerce Ministry will not only reduce the granting time by six years, but can also cut down on frivolous objections that delay the grant, according to an analysis by a patent lawyer.

The timeline given for public comments on the draft rules is set to expire next week,
India’s intellectual property rights (IPR) issues remain a contentious subject at the international level as several nations raised objections to the provisions in Indian patent laws that take away exclusive IPR rights of the manufacturer, under certain conditions specified in the law.

While the Supreme Court is examining the Indian patent regime that came into existence 10 years ago, the Commerce Ministry is in the process of formulating a new IPR policy. One of the contentious issues in the new IPR policy is the protection of incremental innovation.

Meanwhile, as the patent office statistics show a gradual drop in the number of applications and grants in the last five years, a set of new rules has been prepared to accelerate the process by reducing the time needed in three separate steps — request for examination, first examination report and acceptance.

“Once adopted, the rules will prevent forum-shopping (multiple objections filed by rivals in different forum). The government should prevent frivolous objections,” said Archana Shankar, senior partner and head of patents and design at Delhi-based law firm Anand and Anand.

“The innovation engine needs a strong incentive in the form of IPR protection,” said Suja Subramanian, senior director and head of patents at Roche Sequencing. Both were among the speakers at a conference here on India’s IPR policy, organised by the Switzerland Embassy.

With companies like ABB, Nestle, Roche and Novartis that eye India as a huge emerging market, Switzerland is one of the key European nations hugely interested in India’s patent policies. The government is also under pressure from the US administration to modify the existing IPR regime, though the activists cry foul over suggested modifications.

“Our intention is to look at the Indian context, its priorities, challenges and prospects,” said Swiss Ambassador Linus von Castelmur. Currently none of the top-10 patent filers from India are from the pharmaceutical industry.

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