Saturday, January 03, 2009

Indian Patent Examiners Inching at Par with Global Counterparts

Beginning 2009 I completed four years in patent practice after completing post-graduation specialization in patent laws from National Law University Jodhpur. It was an exciting journey so far, full of challenges, great learning and some personal achievements. I still clearly remember my first experience visiting Mumbai Patent Office, feeling both nervous and excited. Being a patent practitioner and knowing the gravity and depth of this complex profession I always had a great respect and regard for Patent Examiners. Believe me role of a Patent Examiner is no joke and require unparallel level of commitment and scientific temperament. Unfortunately, my initial visits to the Patent Office were not very impressive as I can easily sense poor resources and dearth of continuous training provided to Patent Examiners. Though my initial discussions with Patent Examiners disclosed their unfamiliarity with some of technical jargons used and needed to understand the invention but what was encouragingly positive that with every visit Examiners showed considerable improvement in their understanding of technical know-how and great zeal to learn. Today when I compared my initial days with recent times, I feel that Indian Patent Examiners are inching at par with US and European counterparts. It is commendable how Indian Patent Examiners have improved in past couple of years and that also with limited resources and support from the Central Government.

In past there had been constant allegations about the functioning of Indian Patent Office but in my personal opinion that is prominently due to bureaucratic policies not primarily because of Patent Examiners. Government has not only failed to keep Patent Office out its bureaucratic incompetence but also failed to provide clear guidelines about some of the complex provisions of patent law, particularly section 3(d). In fact, some of the Patent Examiners are of the opinion that the Government should clarify what qualify as “enhanced efficacy” under section 3(d) so that it can help them in uniform and consistent examination process of patent applications falling under section 3(d). Interestingly, even many of the global pharmaceutical companies are of same opinion of defining “enhanced efficacy” for clear picture of patentability but unfortunately there seems to be a strong lobby of domestic generic companies preferring to keep section 3 (d) surrounded by chaos for their own business interest. In absence of such guidelines, patent applicants and opponents all have their own way of looking into “enhanced efficacy” which eventually put Patent Examiners in dilemma that what exactly constitute “enhanced efficacy”. I personally feel very sorry about the Indian Patent Examiners who are accused of overlooking section 3 (d) which is in fact government lack of willingness to clear ‘avoidable’ confusion.

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