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.”
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.