India Patent Office Boost International Cooperation

Today, the Indian patent office is a ‘live’ organization. It has been growing, adapting and now, socializing with its peers. Until late 90’s, the same office was a dormant and low profile organization working quietly under the Department of Commerce. But, since the dawn of this century the patent office is emerging as an active organization determined to make its mark. As a part of the efforts to improve itself, the patent office has been collaborating with various developed patent offices around the world. The most recent of these collaborations is the one with European Patent Office.

On 10th April 2007, the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Patent Office (EPO). Work Plan includes programs for Human Resource development, Automation and Data Exchange between the two offices.

Historically, India and Europe always had good economic ties. European Union (EU) is India’s biggest trading partner and accounts for about 25% of India’s exports. EU and India have many agreements on economic cooperation; Intellectual Property had been a part of many of them. EU-India Trade Development Program is one of such joint initiatives. As a part of this initiative, last year European patent experts conducted many training sessions at all four patent offices in India. The MOU of 10th April marks a new chapter in the co-operation between EPO and India patent office (IPO). As a part of this MOU, training of 10 senior Indian patent examiners will be conducted at the EPO and 3 EPO experts shall conduct trainings of about 20 to 30 Indian patent examiners in India. The program is expected to run from mid-2007 to mid-2008.

Last year, the Indian patent office was active in collaborating with a few other patent offices as well. IPO has signed a similar MOU with United States Patent Office. Staff training, capacity building and raising public awareness forms the core of such MOU as well.

Apart from EPO & USPTO, IPO also has a collaborative training program with Malaysia and a MOU for IP co-operation with France. Furthermore, India and United Kingdom have issued a joint statement for co-operation on IP matters.

In the last five years, the number of patent applications filed in India has more than doubled. There is a considerable backlog of pending cases at the IPO. Although IPO has been recruiting more patent examiners, the training of new Examiners remains a challenge. The patent practitioners in India are hoping that these collaborative training efforts will help the patent office overcome the challenge and it will improve productivity of the patent office.