Patent

Patent Examiner Blooper: The Times Group Issues a Clarification


In an earlier post, we bought to your notice a rather interesting comment allegedly made by an Indian patent office examiner. Resonating with the US sub solar approach on patentability (ushered in through Diamond vs Chakraborty), this examiner apparently stated that ““Anything and everything on this earth is patentable provided it is novel, inventive and industry applicable.”

We received a number of comments to this post, some of them very angry and quite evidently from folks that work at the patent office. There were plenty of comments (which we think were from the same 1/2 people) that categorically stated that the press report was wrong and that no such comment was ever made at that conference. We therefore contacted the reporter who wrote this news report seeking a clarification, and this is the reply we received from her boss:

“Dear Shamnad Basheer,

As a reply to your letter to us regarding your blog at http://spicyipindia.blogspot.com:80/2008/07/everything-under-indian-sun-is.html, I would like to state that we as reporters / journalists have reproduced ad verbatim, the quote printed on the press release issued by Amity University, which was the venue and the organiser for the said event.

As the media, we cannot profess to be experts in any area and can only quote experts. We witnessed during that event that one such expert from the patent office had made this statement.

Despite that person’s statement going against the law of the land, we have printed ad verbatim what was supplied to us as a press release from Amity. In case a corrigendum is to be issued, the patent office should directly write to us to my email id and we shall publish the gist or whatever is relevant.

We cannot take cognizance of the erroneous statement ourselves as a mediahouse as that would lead to the inference that we are at fault, which as we know from the law, are not. We do not want to attract libel where it is not due. As a media house, Bennett, Coleman & Co is fully aware of its legal responsibilities and rights. At the same time, please note that I am not the official spokesperson for BCCL.”

Debasish Roy
Business Editor (Supplements)
The Times Group”

SpicyIP independently verified the above with some folks that had attended the conference and it turns out, as the letter above states, that the highly erroneous statement was indeed made. However, it was not by Sweta Rajkumar, but by Omvir Singh–another examiner from the patent office who spoke at this very same conference. One of the comments to our earlier post, which appears to be the closest to the truth states as below:

“I attended the Seminar and the reported statement was definitely made. However, I think the ET reporter mixed up the names as the statement was made by Omvir rather than Sweta. Not stopping there, Omvir also surprised us all when he started discussing pending Patent applications…”

As most of our readers know, one of the key aims of SpicyIP is to increase transparency in IP institutions in India, which includes the patent office. Therefore, it was only natural that we brought this statement made by an examiner to light. Our intention is not to unduly criticise the patent office, but only to point out flaws, where we find them. We think of it as constructive criticism, that encourages our government servants to prepare better and exercise caution when they speak at public forums. Quite unlike the speech of a private practitioner, their statements bear much more weight, as representing the patent office position and the “law” of the land. We have in the past, appreciated the decisions of patent office personnel that we thought did a fine job.

Lastly, we understand and appreciate that practitioners are generally loathe to critique the patent office policy/statements –lest their next case before the patent office be jeopardised. Somebody has to do it–and we decided to fill that gap.

Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof (Dr) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He is currently the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. He is also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Professor Basheer joinedAnand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Prof Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP and the Stanford Technology Law Review. He is consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also serves on several government committees.

7 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    I read all the blog what i think everything under the sun which is novel ,inventive and industrial applicability is an invention -please read section 2{1}[j] of The Act.

    But some invention has been excluded under section 3 of the Act.Method of treatment has no industrial applicability, but for the further explanation it has been included in section 3(i) of the Patent Act.
    Another example section 3(b)-invention which are against morality have zero industrial applicability because no body want to use such invention which are against humanity.
    This is all about novel way of thinking….
    everything under the sun which is novel inventive and industrial applicability is patentable results in lots of blog.
    It shows that intellectuals should think in novel and inventive way.I think Examiner has done a good job and Patent awereness purpose has been solved.
    well done!

    Reply
  2. AvatarPatent

    The newspaper was not right in mentioning Sweta’s name instead of Omvir Singh, as it has spoilt her reputation. It is good that Spicy IP has taken up the responsibility of monitoring the Patent Office. However, it would be better if Spicy IP realizes that the Patent Office does not consist of Examiners alone and that they form the last rung of the Patent Office ladder. Also, it is no use crying hoarse over bad quality of Examiners because one can’t expect better quality in a Government Office. Most Examiners(90%) come from a non-English medium background and hence the problems of understanding the Patents Act is here to stay.

    Reply
  3. AvatarAnonymous

    Mr.Patent
    I do not know the background (profession) of Mr. Patent but I think he does not know about the required qualifications or the selection procedure of Examiner of patent & design .Just giving as a mere statement without knowing the fact, MR.Patent made a comment which is not professional or shows that he/she doesn’t have any sense on how to comment on the situation
    .

    Reply
  4. AvatarPatent

    I was an Assistant Controller in the Patent Office. Fortunately I resigned and am now in a good corporate position. So I think that should be sufficient to know about the qualifications and selection Procedure of Examiners of Patents. I am not commenting on the qualifications of Examiners, just musing on the English language skills (or lack of it) among Examiners and Asst. Controllers. There are even Ph.Ds in the patent office who can’t even write a sentence without a mistake.

    Reply
  5. AvatarAnonymous

    English language is a way of expression, not a big thing.Good English is required for a job in call center sothat foreigner can understand.In Patent office technical and legal knowledge is important.Everybody read English from Ist standard.Hindi and English are part of life.Before 1947 ,knowledge of English was big thing but after independence every body is free to use english.
    In india people on road can help me in English!
    It is inferiority complex in minds of few indian that speaking good english make them technical and legal expert.Japan china are growing without english.

    Reply
  6. AvatarAnonymous

    I read all the blog what i think everything under the sun which is novel ,inventive and industrial applicability is an invention -please read section 2{1}[j] of The Act.

    But some invention has been excluded under section 3 of the Act.Method of treatment has no industrial applicability, but for the further explanation it has been included in section 3(i) of the Patent Act.
    Another example section 3(b)-invention which are against morality have zero industrial applicability because no body want to use such invention which are against humanity.
    This is all about novel way of thinking….
    everything under the sun which is novel inventive and industrial applicability is patentable results in lots of blog.
    It shows that intellectuals should think in novel and inventive way.I think Examiner has done a good job and Patent awereness purpose has been solved.
    well done!

    Reply
  7. AvatarAnonymous

    In India population is power somany qualified english speaking person are available.No need to think about quality of examination.Highly qualified examiner are available in India.In U.S.A gRADUATION SCIENCE DEGREE IS ELIGIBILITY BUT IN INDIA DUE TO UNEMPLOYMENT HIGHY QUALIFIED PH.D. HOLDER ARE DOING THE SAME JOB.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.