We are very pleased to have a guest post by the law firm of Chadha & Chadha on the organization structure and inner workings of the Indian Patent Office.
The patent system in India is administered under the direction of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications (CGPDTM), appointed under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks functions under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Mr. Shri Chaitanya Prasad is the current CGPDTM of the Indian Patent Office (IPO).
The CGPDTM administers the Patents Act and Rules, along with the Designs Act, the Trade Marks Act and Geographical Indications (which was just quite recently brought under his purview). In addition, he supervises each of the 11 branch offices, which includes the 5 branch offices of the Trademarks Registry, the 4 branch offices of Patents and Designs (Design functions are only performed at the Kolkata branch), the office of the Registry for Geographical Indications and the National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM) and the Patent Information System (PIS). Each of these offices report directly to the CGPDTM through their branch heads. Thus, each branch office works as an independent unit under the supervision of the Controller General.
There are four Patent Offices in India, which are located in Kolkata (Main Office), Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. The Office of the CGPDTM is located in Mumbai.
Moving in the descending order, the CGPDTM further delegates his powers to Senior Joint Controller of Patents & Designs, Joint Controllers of Patents & Designs, Deputy Controllers of Patents & Designs and Assistant Controllers of Patents & Designs (who are involved with various procedures necessary for patent grant).
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has initiated a one year training program for newly recruited Examiners of Patents & Designs. These new Examiners will undergo three months of institutional training at NIIPM in Nagpur followed by eight months of on the job training at the various patent offices. Thereafter, they will undergo advanced training for a period of one month on Patent Law & Examination methodology at NIIPM in Nagpur.
During 2009-10, the Patent Office Procedure (POP) was published clearly demarcating the functions and responsibilities of various sections of the IPO in order to ensure an orderly and timely progression of patent applications towards grant.
A crucial step introduced in the POP to ensure the quality, uniformity and consistency in the examination and grant of patents was the formation of four groups of Examiners and Controllers having broad specialization in a variety of subject matter areas. Group 1 encompasses Chemistry and allied subjects, Group 2 encompasses Biotechnology and Microbiology, Group 3 encompasses Mechanical and allied subjects, and Group 4 encompasses Electrical, Electronics and allied subjects. These groups work under the overall supervision of the Group Leaders who have responsibility for the overall functioning of the section.
The Group Leaders hold meetings with the group members, discuss the content of each application and allocate applications to the Controllers. The Examiners to whom the files will be assigned is also decided during this meeting. The decision of which files are assigned to which Examiners is determined based on the Examiner’s experience and subject matter expertise.
After allocation of the applications, the Controller assigns the application to the appropriate Examiner and requires him or her to prepare a report to the Controller within a period of one month from the date on which the application is assigned. The allotment of patent applications in this manner rationalizes the functioning in a more professional and transparent manner.
This scientific approach undertaken by the IPO ensures rationalization in the allotment of patent applications and improves the quality of examination. Also, in order to facilitate timely grant of patents, steps have been taken and successfully implemented for the digitization of applications and secure online filing procedures, thereby considerably reducing the time involved in filing patent applications.