Petition for More Patent Information: Please Lend Your Support and Signatures

Our petition calling for greater transparency and the publication of more patent information has now been posted for signatures at i-petitions.

Please click here to access this petition and sign. Please also include your name and designation–as this will lend greater impact to the campaign. Since there is no specific column for your designation and the institution that you represent, can you please include this in brackets after your name?

Your support will ensure that we have greater access to this much needed information. And such access will go a long way towards promoting more transparency and accountability.

Since i-petitions does not accept petitions over 1000 words, I’ve posted the full length petition on our blog itself. I apologise for the extremely long petition–but wanted to claim as much as possible at one shot (the art of good claim drafting, some might say..). I will post the annexure (laying down the legal position in terms of what can be published) soon.

I want to specifically thank all our readers (particularly IAC) who gave us terrific inputs on an earlier draft petition that we had posted on this blog.

I’m reproducing the shorter version of our petition (as posted on i-petitions) below:

Mr P.H. Kurian
Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks
Indian Patent Office

Dear Mr Kurian,

On behalf of several intellectual property stakeholders that are signatories to this letter, let me begin by wishing you a very happy World Intellectual Property Day.

I include all members of the public in this group of stakeholders, as the public are not only interested in technological progress and higher rates of innovation in India, but also keen to ensure that they do not pay monopoly prices for undeserved patents.

We chose this momentous occasion to express our gratitude for the wonderful initiatives you have undertaken, since you took office three months ago. Your initiatives have helped inject a fresh lease of life into an ailing institution and will no doubt go a long way towards making this office more transparent and more efficient.

We also chose this occasion to begin engaging with you as a community of IP stakeholders (including members of the public) that are interested in bettering the current Indian patent regime.

May we therefore please put forward some recommendations relating to increasing transparency at the Indian patent office by providing greater public access to more patent information?

A detailed list of our recommendations is available at SpicyIP (blog post titled “A Petition Pleading for Greater Transparency and More Access to Patent Information” dated April 28, 2009).

A summary is provided below:

As you may know, we made a similar petition to the government in 2007, which elicited a favourable response.

Pursuant to this letter and our intervention at the Patent Stakeholder’s meeting in Kolkata in November 2008, the government assured us that the database (with easy to access and searchable patent information such as patent specifications and patent office decisions) would be available by March 2009. Unfortunately, the database is yet to be complete. If possible, would you please indicate a rough time line for the completion?

We also urge you to consider making more patent related information available to the public, including the below:

i) All correspondence between patent applicant and the patent office (prosecution history)

ii) Patent office circulars that impact patentability

iii) Working statements meant to be filed by the patentee with the Indian patent office. The Patents Act states that if a patent is not worked for more than 3 years, a compulsory license can be applied for and therefore this information is crucial.

iv) Claim amendments made by patentees/applicants from time to time to address issues raised during prosecution by the office or by opponents who challenge the patent.

v) Section 8 information (on corresponding patent applications elsewhere)

vi) Information pertaining to compulsory licenses and terms of such licenses

vii) Information pertaining to patent licenses that have to be registered under the Indian patents act.

May we also please request that the government be technology neutral whilst implementing the database and providing this information. As of now, it is near impossible to get any information out of the Indian patent office database, without using Internet Explorer.

May we also urge the government to build public private partnerships with the IT sector in India to build a better e-filing system and other innovative IT tools that would help considerably in the administration of the Indian patent office and would make it world class. Perhaps you might consider organising a workshop to brainstorm and get the best ideas and to identify good partners in this regard.

May we also suggest that the government opt for open source IT tools, wherever possible.

As you will appreciate, proper disclosure norms require that patent titles and patent abstract information be very clear and reflective of the inventive concept–and that patent applicants that deliberately obfuscate such information be taken to task.

We thank you for your consideration and are hopeful that you will be open to public input of this sort, aimed at helping improve the functioning of the Indian patent system.

Thanking you very much, we remain,

Most sincerely yours,

Shamnad Basheer
Ministry of HRD Professor of IP Law
NUJS, Kolkata

And other signatories (please see attached list)

Cc: Dr Manmohan Singh, Honourable Prime Minister of India
Shri Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry
Mr NN Prasad, Joint Secretary, DIPP

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